Governor Brown Signs SB 249 And California Off-Roaders Cheer


Update 10/3/2017: Per California Off-Road Vehicle Association (CORVA):

During his first term in office, in 1982, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 2397, creating the Off-Highway Motorized Vehicle Recreation Division. Today, California Off-Road Vehicle Association was notified by the Governor’s office that he has signed Senate Bill 249 into law.

The OHMVR Division is now a permanent part of the California Department of Parks and Recreation, dedicated to providing off-road opportunities within the state. Enthusiasts, businesses and all those who benefit from and enjoy off-highway vehicles can now be assured California supports continued motorized vehicle recreation.

Prior to the introduction of Senate Bill 249, the California Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Program was set to expire at the end of this year. When Senate Bill 249 to reauthorize the Off-Highway Motorized Vehicle Recreation program was first introduced during this legislative session, the California Off-Road Vehicle Association and many off-road enthusiasts objected to a majority of the bill’s content.

Due in large part to the hard work and actions of CORVA staff and members, allied off-road organizations and lobbyists representing the off-road community, the author and key legislators listened. Using a collaborative process, the will was drastically revised.

“Members’ calls to their legislators worked,” said CORVA Managing Director Amy Granat. “The off-road vehicle community was able to convince the author of the bill and legislative leaders to work with off-road representatives on Senate Bill 249 and companion bill Senate Bill 159.”

During the first year of the current legislative session, in response to the need to reauthorize the OHMVR program, lobbyist Kathy Lynch of Lynch and Associates was engaged by the San Diego Off-Road Coalition to represent the interests of SDORC and allied off-road groups. Working together with the united OHV community, Ms. Lynch proved pivotal to the success that has now resulted in a permanent off-road program in California, signed into law by Governor Brown.

The Off-Road Vehicle Legislative Coalition — comprised of the American Sand Association, CORVA and the San Diego Off-Road Coalition — has now hired Lynch to provide legislative advocacy services for the Coalition during the next year of the current legislative session.

“The Coalition member organizations were impressed with the way she worked in close coordination with other lobbyists who represented the off-road vehicle community in California to ensure passage of the bill,” Granat said. “The Coalition looks forward to utilizing Kathy’s expertise to continue to protect motorized vehicle access to our public lands.”

Update 9/23/2017: Per California Off-Road Vehicle Association (CORVA):

Just a few short months ago, we never would have believed we could take out 90% of the objectionable components of SB 249, and rewrite the bill using current law as the basis for moving forward. Because of your calls and communications to legislators and justified anger at the original language in SB 249, the OHV community was able to convince the author and legislative leaders to work collaboratively on this bill and its companion bill SB 159. SB 249 removed the sunset for the California OHV recreation program, giving us a permanent program and grants program protected by statute!

Working with the OHMVR Division, State Parks and a coalition representing the united OHV community, we developed common sense approaches to improve upon and replace many of the environmental community’s outrageous and unwarranted requests in the original language of SB 249 for more strenuous reporting and monitoring of SVRA’s that in many cases would result in spending millions of dollars on plans and reports with no corresponding improvement in environmental protection or improvement in recreational opportunity. We were able to drastically reduce these requirements, but as off-roaders we understood that retaining and refocusing some these analyses will also help defend our parks from frivolous lawsuits in the future.

With the recognition that no piece of legislation is perfect, we’ve evaluated the final language after all the amendments to these bills to make sure there is no hidden language that could hurt our parks, our access, or grant funding.

We ask all OHV enthusiasts to remain engaged with your parks and CORVA. There will always be entities that oppose off-road recreation, and will try to limit our opportunities and hurt our program, so staying involved is important. A united OHV community with the help of off-roaders around the state worked together to protect the OHMVR Division and our SVRA’s this year. With your support, we’ve accomplished something very important for the future of OHV recreation in California.

CORVA and all of our allied groups that support off-road recreation in California are now united in asking Governor Brown to sign SB 159 and SB 249 which are now on his desk awaiting his signature.

Update 5/3/2017: The bill was approved by the second senate committee.  You can still do your part by reaching out to lawmakers here.

California has been in the news for many things as of late, but something that hasn’t been getting the headlines like it should have was the introduction of S.B. 249. This legislation would allow funds collected for California’s Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation (OHMRV) program to be spent by other agencies on unrelated programs and never be reimbursed.

On Tuesday, March 14 the bill was approved by the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee and is now being sent to the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee for consideration.

OHV areas like this can be in danger if S.B. 249 gets approved.

California’s OHMVR program was established in 1971. California OHV user taxes and fees directly fund OHV management and facility maintenance. This self-sustaining program doesn’t require general fund taxes. The OHMVR program provides funds to local, state and federal agencies, educational institutions and nonprofit entities for OHV management on both federal and state lands.

S.B. 249, on the other hand, does the opposite:

  • S.B. 249 would allow OHMVR funds to be spent on unrelated programs, without any requirement to reimburse the funds.
  • S.B. 249 would threaten closure of existing OHV recreation areas and any new or expanded areas.
  • S.B. 249 would undermine the OHMVR program, a dedicated-funding program that has been a worldwide model of success. OHV use contributes an estimated $20 billion to the California economy.

To voice your opinion and request opposition to this legislation visit the SEMA Action Network’s website.


About the author

Steven Olsewski

Steven Olsewski grew up with a true passion for anything with a motor. He loves his wife and kids, and during the year can be found enjoying quality time together. They are a huge part of his life and their passion for God.
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