There are currently nine different OHV-related bills that have been submitted to our California legislature in 2017. All of the bills will have to go through various committees and be approved. Minor to major changes to the bill is to be expected during the process. The two bills that would affect the state OHV program which runs under the Off Road Motorized Vehicle Recreation Division (OHMVR) of the California Department of Parks and Recreation will be the first to be reviewed. Bills that affect the financing of the state OHV program will be reviewed in a later article.
Assembly Bill 1077: This bill will eliminate the sunset date on CA’s OHV program. Our state OHV program started in 1971, through the enactment of the Chappie-Z’berg Off-Highway motor Vehicle Law. In 1982, the principals of the law were expanded upon enactment of the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Act. Numerous amendments to the act have been enacted. The current legislation regulating the OHV program, SB742, was passed nine years ago with a sunset (expiration) date of Jan. 1, 2018. If no legislation is passed this year to change the expiration date, our state OHV program will no longer exist. The future of our SVRA’s would be in question. AB 1077 is a simple bill that if passed, would eliminate the sunset date completely. Amendments to the OHV program could still be made each legislative year.
AB 1077 Legislative Info
Senate Bill 249: This bill makes major changes to the state OHV program.
1. The bill would require the Director of Parks and Recreation to assemble a science advisory team to advise and assist the department and the division in meeting the natural and cultural resource conservation purposes of the act, as specified. The bill would also prohibit any expansion of an existing or development of any new, state vehicular recreation area or allocation of grant program funds for new or expanded units of the system until the science advisory team completes its review and submits its recommendations to the department, and the department implements the recommendations.
2. Existing law requires any money temporarily transferred from the Off-Highway Vehicle Trust Fund to the General Fund to be reimbursed, without interest, within 2 fiscal years of the transfer. This bill would delete this provision
3. Currently a major portion of the funding for the OHV program comes from the Motor Vehicle Fuel Account and that money is deposited in the Off-Highway Vehicle Trust Fund. SB-249 would change this:
This bill would initially require these fuel taxes to be transferred to the State Parks and Recreation Fund. The bill would require the Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation, in consultation with the State Park and Recreation Commission, to include, in the annual budget submitted by the Governor to the Legislature, a proposed allocation of fuel taxes for the purposes of the department, including support for state parks and the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Program. The bill, upon enactment of the Budget Act, would require the portion of fuel tax revenues allocated by the Budget Act for purposes of the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Program to be transferred to the Off-Highway Vehicle Trust Fund. The bill would make statements of legislative intent in this regard.
4. The OHMVR Commission is made up of 9 political appointees. Under current legislation, there is flexibility in the makeup of the Commission members. Under SB-249, tighter adherence to the diverse representation would be required. No more than two Commissioners may serve under the same qualification at the same time.
The qualifications are:
(1) Off-highway vehicle recreation.
2) Biological or soil sciences.
(3) The legal and practical aspects of rural landownership and management.
(4) Law enforcement.
(5) Environmental and cultural resource protection.
(6) Nonmotorized outdoors recreation.
5. This bill would extend the sunset date for five years to Jan. 1, 2023, by which time the legislature would have to pass a bill to once again extend the time frame of the OHV Program.