On the 2023 Legislative Trail
The legislative season is underway in Sacramento! CAMTB’s Legislative & Government Affairs team is monitoring the progress of the 2023-2024 CA State Budget, as well as the release of new bills as the deadline to introduce legislation approaches. Our top priority this year is to work with our member organizations, advocacy partners, and legislative advisors to support legislation that a) unlocks more funding and support for bike-friendly trails and b) makes it easier to steward public lands in California.
2023-2024 CA Draft State Budget Released
Proposed General Fund expenditures by category for 2023-2034 State Budget
Last month, Gov Newsom released the 2023-2024 State Budget, which included notable cuts to natural resource-related expenditures due to a projected deficit. Funding for trails, parks, open space, recreation, and conservation are at risk! There are, however, provisions in some instances to restore funding if the projected revenues exceed the forecast. Click HERE for a full rundown of the proposed cuts to natural resource-related items. CAMTB is currently preparing letters to budget subcommittee members and meeting with budget subcommittee staff and legislative leadership staff to appeal for the restoration of the natural resource funding cuts. Curious about the CA State budgeting process? Check out the excellent flow chart from our friends at the CA State Parks Foundation.
Bennett’s AB-411 Steps Up for Trails
In brighter news, Assembly Member Bennett (District 38) has introduced AB-411, which would increase funding to the Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Project grant program from $7 mil to $10 mil annually to support improvements here in the state. The bill would also revise the types of projects eligible for funding by, among other things, expressly including natural surface trail improvements, the conversion of rail corridors to trails, pedestrian, and cyclist safety improvements at rail crossings, and roadside recreation.
Additional Legislation We’re Watching
There are a number of bills relating to road and commuter cycling which may impact or benefit mountain bikers, both riding to and on trails themselves. One example is AB-73, which tries again to legalize the “Idaho Stop” and allow cyclists to treat stop signs as yield signs when safe to do so. Another curious bill related to e-bikes, SB-222, has been introduced by Senator Nguyen from the 38th District but the language and intent of the bill have yet to be revealed. Our partners in the district are in contact with the author’s office and will provide an update as soon as one is available.
We’re expecting much more pertinent legislation to emerge this week as the February 17 deadline for the State’s new bill introduction approaches. Major themes and impacts will be better understood by the end of the month. Stay tuned for additional updates, position statements, and specific citizen calls to action as the State’s legislative session unfolds.
Range of Light National Monument, one of three new National Monuments being proposed in California(Photo: courtesy Unite the Parks)
And last but not least, as the House and Senate committee assignments and agendas are confirmed at the federal level, CAMTB will be collaborating with our partners to prioritize legislation connected to outdoor recreation on federal lands and national efforts to address climate change. An important development in California is the introduction of three new National Monument proposals, including the Range of Light National Monument between Yosemite and Kings Canyon, the Feather River Canyons National Monument in the Plumas National Forest, and Chuckwalla National Monument south of Joshua Tree. Our Legislative & Government Affairs team is working with local stakeholders and Outdoor Alliance to help ensure that riders have a place for responsible recreation in these proposed National Monuments.