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The House easily passed a bill Tuesday that would strip cities and counties of their ability to regulate billboard companies from replacing static signs with electronic billboards.

The measure, HB87, passed 55-16.

Rep. Melvin Brown, R-Coalville, said allowing companies to replace old billboards with newer, electronic ones was allowing the industry to keep up with new technology, which he believes will eventually become the norm.

"It's only right that we allow our billboard industry to keep up with the advancing technology," Brown said. "There will be a lot of savings — especially energy savings."

But cities and counties had complained bitterly that the measure would remove their ability to cater to the needs of their local communities while billboard companies lobbied hard for the bill, which they argued gave them flexibility to be competitive.

The bill also comes on the heels of Salt Lake City's attempt to restrict billboards in neighborhoods and prohibit animation on them.

Brown's proposal also would make it more difficult for cities to condemn property with billboards on them through eminent domain.

There was almost no debate on the House floor on the measure. It now moves to the Senate.

dmontero@sltrib.comTwitter: @davemontero