Response from State Senator Patricia C. Bates Re: SB 249 (OHV Program)
Thank you for your message regarding Senate Bill 249 (Allen), which would make significant changes to the Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) program. I appreciate hearing from you.
As you may know, the Senate approved the measure by a 22 to 16 vote on June 1. It is now in the State Assembly for its consideration. After considering the arguments made by both sides, I opposed the bill. Contrary to the stakeholder process that was supposed to occur with this bill, the current version of SB 249 is devoid of input from the OHV community.
This bill eliminates language in the original act that ensures that state vehicular recreation areas are established on lands where there are quality recreational opportunities for OHVs. The entire OHV program revolves around this section of law in guaranteeing Californians have a place to operate their off-road vehicles in a manner that respects the environment. This program has been a model that many other states have adopted and SB 249 is an attack on the ability of the program to remain sustainable into the future. A large part of the 2007 agreement on the OHV program were the funding mechanisms and at least the intent for there to be a "lock box" whereby revenues from motor vehicle fuels consumed in OHV recreation could be transferred directly to the OHV trust fund. SB 249 would change this arrangement to dedicate those funds to the State Park and Recreation Fund (SPRF) and allows the Director, in consultation with the State Park and Recreation Commission to decide how much OHV fuel tax revenue they think should be transferred to the Trust Fund and how much they should keep in the SPRF. In addition, the bill eliminates a provision in law that states that if the OHV Trust Fund is raided by the General Fund (which it continues to be), the Trust Fund shall be reimbursed by the Legislature within two fiscal years of the transfer.
I will keep your thoughts in mind should the Assembly amend SB 249 and send it back to the Senate for another vote. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance on other state-related issues. It is an honor to represent the 36th Senate District.
PATRICIA C. BATES
Senator, 36th District