Bill bans elected officials from state billboards


SPRINGFIELD -- The faces of elected officials will no longer appear on state-sponsored public service announcement billboards if Gov. Pat Quinn signs a bill that passed the Illinois House on Friday.

The measure would keep the names, faces and voices of elected officials off of public service announcement billboards and electronic message boards that promote state-administered programs.

The proposal arose out of the 2004 posting of 32 signs announcing “Open Road Tolling – Rod Blagojevich, Governor.” The signs cost taxpayers $480,000, according to the Chicago Tribune.

“For my personal opinion, I don’t see why we need to attach our names or images to programs that are very worthy,” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Chris Nybo, R-Elmhurst. “Let’s promote the programs, but let’s not promote the politicians.”

The state already prohibits politicians from appearing in public service announcements promoting state-administered programs on radio or television and in newspapers or magazines.

The measure ran into opposition from some Chicago legislators.

Rep. Andre Thapedi, D-Chicago, laid out a scenario in which a state-run breast cancer awareness program was advertised in the city of Chicago.

“They will utilize pictures of leading ladies in the General Assembly – that would be illegal under your bill,” Thapedi said. “(That is) a real-life situation that happens quite frequently in the inner city of Chicago to make inner city Chicagoans aware of the importance of important things like breast cancer awareness, AIDS, HIV – those kind of things.”

The measure passed 91-19 with three voting present. It passed the Senate unanimously April 13 and now heads to Quinn.

Andy Brownfield can be reached at (217) 782-3095.