Senate bill aims for new jobs, green recovery

SB 1296 seeks to create and train a new green workforce

four men in construction helmets stand on a dirt road in a redwood forest while making assessments of a project siteAs California lawmakers seek to make smart investments to rebuild the state’s economy in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, they are increasingly looking to create new jobs in communities hit hardest by the crisis. Moveover, they see this as an opportunity to continue to build the state’s leading-edge green economy, one that addresses the challenge of climate change while ensuring a future for the state’s natural resources. Given these goals, legislators could hardly do better than support Senate Bill 1296, authored by Sen. Maria Elena Durazo.

Durazo’s bill––titled the Nature & Parks Career Pathway and Community Resiliency Act––seeks to build jobs in the natural resource field by focusing on job creation and training in working class communities and communities of color. In many instances, these are communities that have been particularly hard hit by job losses due to COVID-19, and suffer the most consequences of climate change. Men and women in these communities have faced exclusionary hiring and educational practices that have put them at a significant disadvantage in the workplace. With these workforce programs, these men and women can receive the necessary education, training, and certification that puts them at an equal footing to pursue a natural resources career. The bill requires state agencies that are likely to be tasked with spending economic recovery funds, such as the California Coastal Conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Board, to create programs that provide pathways for this green workforce. These programs will provide vital training for people to enter into these much-needed careers.

These jobs could range from agriculture to renewable energy to park rangers––even forestry.

Save the Redwoods League in April released new research showing that investments in redwood forest restoration can be a major part of the state’s fight against climate change. During the COVID-19 crisis, we saw millions descend on our parks for both recreation and mental health. Clearly, there is important work to be done on these landscapes, and SB 1296 is one critical step toward creating the green workforce that will guide our way out of the current economic crisis.

SB 1296 is currently awaiting a vote before the State Senate Appropriations Committee. If it passes out of Appropriations it will then be put to a vote before the full State Senate. We’re tracking this bill closely and will share important updates as they arise.

About the author

Jessica Little joined Save the Redwoods League as Director of Government Affairs and Public Funding in 2020. Little comes to Save the Redwoods League from Environmental & Energy Consulting, a government relations consulting firm based in Sacramento that works closely with the League. For the past five years, Little has developed and led public funding strategies for numerous environmental protection and conservation objectives statewide. Her previous experience includes six years with Conservation Strategy Group, another Sacramento government affairs consultant with which the League has worked. She has been integral to the implementation and development of programs funded through state resources bonds and other funding measures. Little, who is based in Sacramento, earned a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from California State University, Sacramento.

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