Governor opts for darkness

Arizonans who enjoy the state's dark night skies and stars can breath a sigh of relief for a short while. Gov. Jan Brewer has vetoed a bill that would have allowed electronic billboards in state highway rights of way.

In her veto letter, Brewer acknowledged the need to update the state's statutes to include electronic billboards, but also pointed out that the state also benefits from the many observatories that use the dark skies.

The astronomy industry has invested nearly $1.2 billion in Arizona and created more than 3,300 jobs, generating $250 million a year, Brewer stated in her letter.

She asked the Legislature, the billboard companies, the observatories and the Arizona Department of Transportation to get together to reach a consensus on the matter and then return a new bill to her desk next session.

Brewer also vetoed a bill that would have allowed the State Parks Board to create a State Park Revenue Fund where money collected from sales, appropriations, gifts, donations, user fees, concessions and other items would be deposited. It also transfers several existing park funds into the revenue fund and states that the money is permanently appropriated to the board.

In her veto letter, Brewer objected to the language in the bill, saying it would cause conflicts with the current land usage agreements the state has with several organizations.

Her office is working with the Legislature and the State Parks Department to rewrite the bill so that it does not conflict with the agreements and allow the proceeds from sales at the parks to stay within the parks' funds.