Legislation banning billboards on the Highway 371 bypass around Brainerd was passed Wednesday by the Minnesota House and sent to Gov. Jesse Ventura's desk.
The bill prohibits large self-standing billboards on the scenic stretch of highway that runs from Barrows, across the Mississippi River and around the southwest edge of Brainerd to the Baxter commercial strip. Small signs on the property of businesses along the highway would still be allowed as would real estate for-sale signs.
Legislation author Rep. Steve Wenzel, DFL-Little Falls, said the bill's passage was a victory for scenic preservation.
"The Brainerd bypass is becoming the gateway to northern Minnesota for thousands of motorists. The picturesque forests and Mississippi River valley form a kind of entrance garden for our state's north country."
He said he saw no reason why the governor wouldn't sign the bill, noting that it passed both legislative bodies by wide margins. John Wodele, the governor's spokesman, could not be reached for comment today.
The bill passed in the House on a 120-11 vote. It passed in the Senate April 25 under the guidance of Sen. Don Samuelson, DFL-Brainerd.
Wenzel said he has contacted the governor's office and asked for favorable consideration of the measure.
In 2000 Wenzel won passage of legislation designating the highway as the "Gov. C. Elmer Anderson Memorial Highway" for the former governor and Brainerd and Nisswa mayor.
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