Common-sense Measure Provides Needed Funding Strategies to Prevent Closures
Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro talks about the importance of state parks and bipartisan legislation he has jointly authored with Democrats and Republicans alike at a news conference Monday, May 21, at the Trout Pond on grounds of the State Capitol. Behind him are seven Democratic and Republican members of the Assembly who are joint authors or coauthors of AB 1589, the California State Parks Stewardship Act of 2012. Also joining leglislators at the news conference was Robert Hanna, a great-great grandson of John Muir, fourth from the left in the back row.
SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro (D-North Coast) joined a bipartisan block of legislators today to support a sweeping state parks rescue bill he has jointly authored in the Assembly.
“It is phenomenal the amount of bipartisan support this bill has,” said Chesbro, speaking of AB 1589, the California State Parks Stewardship Act of 2012, at a news conference this morning on the grounds of the State Capitol. “It is major legislation that will change the relationship between the state and State Parks, making State Parks more self-sufficient and well-funded with sustainable revenue sources. It will stop park closures, with a net long-term savings to the state’s general fund.”
Chesbro was joined by Republican Assemblymembers Kevin Jeffries, Diane Harkey and Kristin Olsen and Democrats Jared Huffman and Roger Dickinson, plus Robert Hanna, a direct descendant of John Muir, at the news conference today, designed to demonstrate the strong bipartisan support AB 1589 has in the Assembly.
“Protecting state parks is not a Democratic or Republican issue,” Chesbro said. “State parks are important to all of California, and keeping them open and accessible is something that we can come together over without dispute. I ask my fellow Assemblymembers in both caucuses to support AB 1589 when it comes the Floor for a vote. I also urge my colleagues in the Senate and the Governor to approve this bill when it reaches them. ”
AB 1589 calls on the Department of Parks and Recreation to develop a prioritized action plan to increase revenues and collection of unpaid user fees at state parks, while maintaining the character and values of the State Park System. It also creates a State Park Enterprise Fund and states legislative intent regarding the need for a multi-disciplinary independent assessment of ways to ensure long-term management and sustainable funding options for state parks.
Additionally, it includes provisions that authorize the Department of Motor Vehicles to offer special fee-based state park license plates to support the park system and allow taxpayers to redirect portions of their tax refunds to the California State Parks Protection Fund in exchange for an annual state park day-use access pass.
AB 1589 also revises the factors the Department of Parks and Recreation considers when selecting state parks for future closure, requiring the Department to publicly disclose its methodology and rationale when evaluating them, and requires that park closures be considered only as a last resort after other options, including public-private partnerships, have been explored.
Legislators were joined at the press conference by Robert Hanna, a the great-great grandson of renowned naturalist John Muir, who emphasized the cultural and economic significance of California’s state parks.
“In every great accomplishment you’ll find togetherness, and I’m proud to stand in solidarity with California’s elected officials to fight for our park,” Hanna said. “I’ll forever continue my family’s commitment to protect these treasures and will continue to fight the good fight.”
AB 1589 received unanimous support in both Assembly policy committees that reviewed the bill.
It will be heard in the Appropriations Committee this week and will be taken up on the Assembly Floor after Memorial Day.
CONTACT: Andrew Bird, Chesbro Communications Director, (916) 319-2001