ISA Signals | September 2010
• ISA Reaches Out to State Officials – The 13th annual National Alliance of Highway Beautification Agencies (NAHBA) conference was on August 15th-18th, and ISA was there.
NAHBA consists of government officials and other stakeholders whose focus includes outdoor advertising regulation at the state level. State DOT officials are becoming more concerned and confused over whether and how they should regulate digital on-premise signs, and NAHBA invited ISA to help clear up some questions. ISA joined representatives from 21 state DOT’s and several Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) officials, some consultants and other industry representatives at the conference.
ISA participated in the first panel presentation of the conference on The Differences Between On-Premise and Off-Premise Signs. Other panelists included Cathy O’Hara (FHWA), Jimmy Isonhood (Mississippi DOT) and Mary Tracey (Scenic America), and the group talked about several critical issues that state and federal officials have regarding on-premise sign regulations – including brightness and definitional issues. It was a lively and informative two-hour discussion. ISA was also able to meet and talk with many state DOT officials, and will have opportunities to work with these officials on the issues mentioned above, especially with help from ISA members from these states and regions. For more information please contact David Hickey at [email protected].
Code Tracking/Rapid Response
• Lights Out in Pittsburgh? – The city of Pittsburgh is proposing extremely restrictive sign code language that could prohibit the installation of any new electronic signs, as well as establishing unreasonably low brightness limits for existing electronic signs. That’s why ISA participated in-person at an August 4th public hearing to present the sign industry’s perspective and expertise in Pittsburgh, along with several ISA members. ISA was able to educate some local officials on proper and reasonable illumination levels for on-premise EMCs, but this will be a strenuous and ongoing effort in the weeks and months to come. Ironically, Pittsburgh’s efforts to severely curtail the use and effectiveness of electronic digital signs during the economic downturn seemingly conflict with the Pennsylvania state government’s tentative plan to allow commercial messages to be posted on state-owned digital signs along highways, in order to raise funds for the state. After all, if these types of signs can be used to raise money for the state and don’t impair traffic safety, then why shouldn’t local businesses be allowed the same right? ISA is working with other stakeholders to continue to aggressively oppose Pittsburgh’s proposal. For more information, contact [email protected].
• Being Perfectly Clear in Clearwater – On August 29th, representatives from ISA and the Florida Sign Association (FSA) joined members from the Clearwater, Fla., Chamber of Commerce in proposing business-friendly changes to municipal planners. With the sign industry’s help, members of the business community are attempting to increase allowable sign sizes, loosen restrictions on EMCs and simplify compliance with permitting requirements. In the coming weeks, ISA, FSA and the local chamber will present a detailed proposal to the city. For more information, please contact [email protected].
Heard on the Hill
• More 1099? Are You Out of Your Mind! – Among the new health care law’s thousands of pages is a provision in which all employers are required to file a 1099 form with the IRS for every transaction with a for-profit vendor over $600 a year. In August, ISA joined with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in urging Congress to repeal this onerous provision. This new regulation will be implemented in 2012 and could impose substantial paperwork and reporting burdens on the backs of small businesses – including sign companies. These small businesses will have to dedicate precious office resources and effort to keeping record-keeping data collection and reporting requirements that keep track of every purchase by vendor and method of payment in order to comply with the new law. By joining with the U.S. Chamber and other trade associations, ISA is letting members of Congress know that sign companies do not support more regulatory burdens and burdensome paperwork, especially during these tough economic times. For more information, contact David Hickey at [email protected].
• Helping Members Cope with OSHA – The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is becoming more active and enforcement-driven. This has been demonstrated by the adoption of a new crane safety rule, and now OSHA is considering new rules on fall-protection safety (visit here to see existing fall-protection rules that currently impact the sign industry). ISA continues to represent the on-premise sign industry in the federal regulatory area, this time by submitting comments on August 23rd to exclude motor vehicles – such as the trucks that many sign companies use every day – from any possible requirements to install permanent and expensive fall-protection equipment on them. ISA also urged OSHA to maintain the “qualified climber” exemption for outdoor signs equipped with permanent ladders. ISA will continue to monitor OSHA developments on this issue, in order to make sure that the sign industry is effectively represented and that ISA members are always informed. For more information, contact Bill Dundas at [email protected].
• DOJ, ADA and ISA – Recently U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder signed documents officially adopting the 2010AccessibilityStandard as the referenced standard for the U.S. Department of Justice. The final step in this process will be publication of the new standard in the federal register. Key changes in the new standard include a requirement for all letter fonts to be sans serif. Additionally, some important changes have been madein reference to sign mounting heights, allowable thickness of character strokes and character spacing. The new DOJ standards will take effect six months after publication in the register. Once implemented, designers will be able to use either the 1991 Standard or the 2010 Standard for approximately one year. In 2012, all facilities will have to comply with the 2010 Standards. Visit here for general information regarding the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and signs, and contact Bill Dundas at [email protected] for any specific questions about the DOJ’s initiative.
Education & Outreach
• ISA Educates the Industry – ISA’s Kenny Peskin presented a seminar on Permitting 101 at the annual Florida Sign Association conference in St. Augustine on August 7th. His presentation was approved for one business CEU for electrical sign contractors by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). He also gave a presentation on how to use the Signage Foundation Inc.’s Framework for On-Premise Sign Regulations document to draft reasonable and effective sign codes. If you’d like ISA staff to come make an educational presentation to members and/or local officials in your city, state or region, please contact [email protected].
• Let There Be Illumination – The International Dark Skies Association (IDA) and the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) are working together on a new Model Lighting Ordinance (MLO) that could impact hundreds of communities across the nation once it is released. That’s why ISA has been working to stress the importance of proper illumination for on-premise signs with these organizations and other groups. This includes participating in a seminar on August 27th at George Mason University to learn about and discuss the MLO. The MLO is designed and hoped to be a template for municipalities to use to develop outdoor lighting standards. It is the most comprehensive document that has been developed that addresses in detail the majority of issues confronting planning and zoning officials – EXCEPT at this point, the MLO has no language in it regarding sign illumination. ISA will be working with these organizations to give the sign industry’s expertise and to protect the ability of our products to be visible and readable at night. Please contact David Hickey at [email protected] if you have any questions.
• Showdown in Chicago – ISA staff traveled to Chicago in mid-August to defend the sign industry’s proposed changes to the new International Green Construction Code. Nearly 1,400 proposals for modification were submitted during this comment period by interested parties, but only 25.3% of these proposals were approved. One of ISA’s three proposals was approved in Chicago. This includes language creating an exemption for some signs from automated demand response controls designed to protect the power grid in times of peak demand. Other comments that ISA submitted on behalf of the industry will have to defended and worked on in the next round of IGCC hearings in early 2011. For more information on the IGCC, contact [email protected] or [email protected].
A Look Ahead
• Planner Training in Maryland – The Northeast States Sign Association and ISA are holding a day-long training program for planners on September 29, 2010 in Beltsville, Maryland. This program will be offered free to all Town/City/County/State officials, and planners who are AICP members can earn 5 CM credits for this program at no charge. ISA’s Kenny Peskin will be among the speakers at the event. Please visit www.nssasign.org if you have any questions.
• DOT Gets Distracted – ISA will be attending the U.S. Department of Transportation’s second annual “Driver Distraction” Summit in Washington DC on September 21st , where hundreds of policymakers and key stakeholders will meet for two days to discuss ways to reduce dangerous driving and improve traffic safety.