PHOENIX--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Senate Bill 1114, sponsored by Sen. Sonny Borrelli and Lamar Advertising and recently signed by Gov. Doug Ducey, allows electronic billboards within a 40-mile radius of Bullhead City in western Arizona. Working with the Arizona Astronomy Consortium, the Arizona Technology Council was successful in negotiating an amendment with Sen. Borrelli and Lamar Advertising that helped protect Arizona’s famed dark skies while still accomplishing Lamar’s economic development goals in Mohave County.
The Council worked for an amendment which limits the number of billboards to 35, caps the level of illumination to 200 nits in the newly approved area, and restricts the areas in which the billboards will be permitted. With potential statewide implications, the amendment includes legislative intent language that encourages the advertising industry to try to limit light pollution and to use state-of-the-art technology to further mitigate the impact of the light from the electronic billboards.
“The language of this bill allows Mohave County to have economic development in the form of electronic billboards but still helps protect our existing observatories, as well as potential future sites,” said Steven G. Zylstra, president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council. “Because they are among the top-rated dark sky areas in the world, professional astronomers flock to Northern Arizona and Tucson, second to only the star-filled skies from Mauna Kea in Hawaii, which is now built out to capacity.”
A study published a decade ago showed the industry had an economic impact of $250 million annually -- not including the synergistic and strong optics sector -- and has been on a sustained path of growth since. The University of Arizona’s astronomy program alone has brought in over $100 million in sponsored research support every year for the last 12 years. That figure does not include the substantial NASA awards to the UA Lunar and Planetary Lab (OSIRIS-REX) or to the Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration.
“We’re pleased with the amended language in SB 1114 and thankful for the extensive work done by the Arizona Technology Council and Arizona Astronomy Consortium,” said Jeffrey Hall, director of the Lowell Observatory. “Artificial light at night is a threat to astronomical research, and it is crucial that we continue to protect the dark skies vital to Arizona's thriving astronomy industry."
On the strength of its still-dark skies, Kitt Peak National Observatory outside of Tucson recently was awarded major new research projects, representing investments of tens of millions of dollars by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy and NASA. All these economic drivers are dependent on the state’s public commitment to protect Arizona’s valuable asset of dark skies.
For more information on the Arizona Technology Council and its Public Policy Committee, visit www.aztechcouncil.org.
About the Arizona Technology Council
The Arizona Technology Council is Arizona’s premier trade association for science and technology companies. Recognized as having a diverse professional business community, Council members work towards furthering the advancement of technology in Arizona through leadership, education, legislation and social action. The Arizona Technology Council offers numerous events, educational forums and business conferences that bring together leaders, managers, employees and visionaries to make an impact on the technology industry. These interactions contribute to the Council’s culture of growing member businesses and transforming technology in Arizona. To become a member or to learn more about the Arizona Technology Council, please visit http://www.aztechcouncil.org.