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Bill to protect Arizona State Parks revenue a step closer to law

A view of the mountains at Oracle State Park, which is about 40 miles northeast of Tucson. The bill would protect funds raised by Arizona State Parks. (Cronkite News Service Photo by Jessica Testa)

A bill that would protect Arizona State Parks revenue from legislative sweeps skipped over the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, taking it one step closer to becoming law.

HB 2362, authored by Rep. Karen Fann, R–Prescott, has received House approval and an endorsement from the Senate Natural Resources and Transportation Committee.

It was scheduled to be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee, but the chairman, Sen. Don Shooter, R–Yuma, decided to release the bill.

“They have so many bills to hear right now that the chairman went ahead and sent it straight on,” Fann said. “Hopefully, we’ll see it pass right through the next few steps.”

Those next steps include votes in the Senate Rules Committee, party caucuses, Senate Committee of the Whole and the full Senate.

The bill, sponsored by legislators from both parties, would protect funds raised by Arizona State Parks, which hasn’t been on the state’s general fund since 2009.

Jay Ziemann, legislative liaison for Arizona State Parks, said he’s hopeful that the bill will pass through the Senate by a large majority.

“It’s a good bill – good for the state, good for the parks – and it doesn’t cost the Legislature any money,” he said.

Environmentalists have applauded the bill’s progress, but with a wary eye.

“State parks should be open and public, and Representative Fann’s legislation makes the right first step toward that,” said Bret Fanshaw, an advocate for Environment Arizona. “We just hope the same legislators voting to support state parks will follow through when it comes time to actually do the budget.”

Arizona State Parks:

• Manages 30 state parks, 28 of which are currently open

• Receives 2 million visitors on average each year

• Provides more than 1,400 camping and RV sites

• Manages more than 600 trails

• Includes the State Trails Program and the State Historic Preservation Office

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