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Posted at 2:38 PM ET, 02/24/2011

General Assembly passes restrictions on alcohol ads on billboards

By Anita Kumar
Anita Kumar

Virginia lawmakers have passed a bill to restrict alcohol ads on billboards in certain places following a settlement last month with billboard company Lamar that resulted in the commonwealth lifting a long-standing ban on the ads across the state.

The House of Delegates voted 97-0 Wednesday for an emergency bill that would allow liquor billboards in industrial and commercial areas, but bans them within 500 feet (equal to about six houses) from schools, houses, places of worship or parks. The Senate unanimously passed the bill Thursday.

A spokesman for Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said he would review the bill before deciding whether to sign it. If he signs it, it would go into effect immediately.

Legislators have been working around the clock for a week to come up with a deal with more than three dozen lobbyists who represents alcohol, advertising and other interests.

Representatives for Lamar and the Virginia Outdoor Advertising Agency Association signed off on the bill that passed the General Assembly this week.

"We don't have issues with restrictions,'' said John S. West, an attorney for Troutman Sanders who represents Lamar, which operates hundreds of billboards in Virginia. "From Lamar's standpoint it will still protect its constitutional right to advertise product."

The bill closely matches the settlement but no longer allows alcohol ads on billboards in residential areas.

"What the billboard industry wants to do is tastefully implement the law,'' said John G. "Chip" Dicks, a former legislator who represents the advertising association. "They're not looking to put alcohol ads in residential areas.''

By Anita Kumar  | February 24, 2011; 2:38 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar, General Assembly 2011, House of Delegates, State Senate  
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