The season of political signs may be getting a little bit longer soon.
Although it wouldn’t be enacted in time to effect the 2020 elections, Arizona District 16 Representative John Fillmore has introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that would double the amount of time campaign signs are allowed to be displayed in the right of way. HB 2028 would increase the time allowed under Section 16-1019 from 60 days to 120 days.
“Citizens in Lake Havasu City aren’t particularly favorable of campaign signs, so a longer window I think most of our citizens would be opposed to,” said Lake Havasu City Mayor Cal Sheehy. “The 60 days that is allowed now, in my opinion, is sufficient to allow candidates to get in front of citizens. But it still protects the integrity of our neighborhoods without polluting the street corners with signage for extended periods of time.”
Fillmore said the main goal of the bill is to create uniform regulations throughout the state, especially for citizen initiatives and candidates for statewide office.
“It’s a nightmare for them because you can put signs up in June in one place, but you can’t put them up until July or August somewhere else,” Fillmore said.
Sheehy said Lake Havasu City code already reflects the 60 days written in current state law. If the proposed bill passes as written, he said the City Council would have to amend city code to extend the window for campaign signs.
Before the bill goes to a vote, however, Sheehy said city officials will work with local legislators to see if changes could be made to make the bill more flexible for cities to decide what is right for their community.
“In Lake Havasu City, from what I hear from the citizens that is not what they want,” Sheehy said. “So we would then keep it at the 60 days even though the state law would allow us to extend it to 120 days if that made sense in our city. But again, in my opinion through speaking with voters, it is not what they are looking for.”
Although the law would not go into effect in time for the 2020 primaries, such a law would allow signs to be placed starting April 5 in preparation for the Aug. 4 primary election. Under the current statue, campaign signs are allowed to be placed starting June 4.
Signs are allowed to remain up for 15 days following the general election, or 15 days following the primary election for candidates that do not advance to the general election. Therefore, this bill would allow for campaign signs for up to 226 days total if it were in effect in 2020.
In the last legislative session, the Arizona Legislature passed SB 1154 changing the date of primary elections from the 10th Tuesday before a general election to the first Tuesday in August. The result of that bill is that primary elections are held several weeks earlier than in previous years – meaning political signs will already be out for a longer period starting with the next election.