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Controversial billboard provision amended in House transportation bill

The Florida House late Thursday signed off unanimously on a catch-all transportation bill that includes a billboard provision aimed in part at the city of Miami.

The original provision would have prohibited cities and counties from collecting a yearly permit fee of more than $500 per billboard -- effectively undoing a Miami ordinance that was expected to bring the city millions of dollars a year. The provision was linked to a pending billboard settlement in the city that commissioners put off last week until after the legislative session ends.

The updated language in HB 1363, approved by the House with a 116-0 vote, does not include the $500 number. It says local governments "may" establish a sign permit fee schedule and "may" assess fees for billboards. The fees must be based on -- and not exceed -- the cost of administering the billboard program. Cities and counties must maintain information to justify the costs of the program.

And the provision does not apply to any other agreements or regulations regarding signs -- or require the repayment of fees already paid.

The House sent its bill to the Senate, which may or may not take it up in the remaining week of session. A similar, Senate transportation bill stalled in a budget committee.

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