State Parks Bills Stall Despite Voter Support
There has been no movement this week on Senate Bill 260 or its companion bill House Bill 249. Both bills call for a vote on a constitutional amendment that would ensure any funding earned by or allocated to state parks is only spent on parks. Since these bills were introduced on February 17, more than 2,500 messages have been sent by voters to their state elected officials to voice their support for the bills and the protection they would offer state parks funding. All told, almost 4,000 messages have been sent since January 1 expressing the necessity of preserving parks’ funding.
SB260 was carried over to the call of the chair last week, meaning that it does not have to be added to a formal calendar to be debated again and can be brought up at any point. Sen. Clay Scofield (R-Guntersville), a sponsor of the bill, made this motion after discussing potential changes or amendments to the bill with Speaker Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston). Voters have urged the Senate to avoid adding any further amendments to this bill, in particular one suggested by Sen. Marsh that would restrict state park funding to the park that earned it. Fifteen of our 22 state parks would be in danger of closing if that amendment was added to this bill.
The House version of the bill, HB249, was listed on the House Special Order calendar on Thursday. However, the House did not debate the bill before it adjourned for the week at noon. It is our hope that HB249 will be taken up early next week, passed by the House, and sent to the Senate to be passed so Governor Bentley can sign this bill and the voters in our state can go to the polls in November to protect parks’ funding.