Bill Introduced to Protect State Parks
On Wednesday, February 17, a press conference was held by Sen. Clay Scofield (R-Arab) and Rep. Kerry Rich (R-Guntersville) to announce the introduction of a bill that calls for a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment. This amendment would specify that any funding earned by or designated for Alabama’s state parks can only be spent on parks. This means that the administrative transfers that had decimated state parks’ budgets in the past will no longer be allowed to take place. This is a great step towards protecting the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ funding, and giving parks the financial security they need to be able to stay open.
In addition to Scofield and Rich’s legislation, other bills have been introduced to add new streams of revenue for parks. Below is a list of the bills related to state parks that Conservation Alabama is supporting this session. If you’d like to receive weekly updates on the progress of these bills, sign up for our Hot List email. You can also find out more information on these and other bills on our Bill Tracker tool.
These companion bills call for a statewide vote on a constitutional amendment to protect state parks’ funding from further administrative transfers. It specifies that any funding earned by parks or designated for parks cannot be used for any purpose other than parks’ support, maintenance, and upkeep.
HB 144 (Hanes)
Taxpayers are offered the option to contribute a portion of their tax refund to various programs. This bill would add Alabama’s state parks, the Alabama Department of Mental Health, and the Alabama Medicaid Agency as potential recipients for that contribution.
HB 146 (Wilcox)
All boat owners are required to register their vessels with the state. This bill would require the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency to issue five-year ID stickers for boats, the proceeds from which would go to DCNR to be earmarked for state parks. License holders would also have the option to purchase more expensive stickers that support various programs, with half of the money ($25) going to that organization and half ($25) going to DCNR for parks.