TDOT Trucks: “Your Message Here”

The state Department of Transportation’s HELP trucks and traffic hotline would tout advertising, under a bills that passed in the state legislature this week.

Representative Vince Dean of East Ridge thinks his bills will bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars for the state Transportation Department if private companies buy advertising on them.

But fellow Republican Jon Lundberg of Bristol finds the whole idea a little unsettling.

“I’ve got a little bit of issue with this on a governmental basis, taking over some taxpayer funded things. I envision this as the start of “Tennessee Troopers, brought to you by Bail Bonds R Us.”

Lundberg knows something about advertising – he runs a public relations shop.

Another bill would allow a 15-second advertisement to play on the phone line when you dial 5-1-1 for traffic updates. It raised the ire of Republican Matthew Hill, a Jonesborough broadcaster.

Hill says when the state government sells ads, it takes ad dollars away from private industry.

“We work in the private sector. The government cannot buy this advertising, that’s why they have to go out and get an ad agency to do it. They have to go get a private sector business, to take private sector money, away from the private sector.”

The two bills passed with about a two-thirds majority in both houses, with a mixed bag of Republicans and Democrats voting against.

The bills now go to Governor Bill Haslam for his review and signature.

The TDOT truck advertising bill is SB 31 Tracy/HB 222 Dean.

It passed the House 68-23, with 3 abstaining. That vote is here.

Earlier Monday night the same bill passed the Senate 26-5 with one abstention. That vote is here.

The bill to allow advertising on the 511 traffic information phone line is SB 32 Tracy/HB 223 Dean.

The bill passed the House 66-27, with three abstaining. That vote is here.

Earlier Monday the same bill passed in the Senate, 26-4 with one abstention. That vote is here.

Dean got the idea when he saw Georgia Department of Transportation trucks sponsored by State Farm Insurance. Our previous story on that is here: Lawmaker Wants Ad Revenue from TDOT

Please keep your community civil. Comments will be moderated prior to posting, and Nashville Public Radio reserves the right to approve them at its discretion. Comments containing links promoting goods, services - even noble organizations - will not be published. Your comments may include external links, but all comments with links will be delayed as they are reviewed. Comments containing profanity will be rejected.