Hoover Institution (Stanford, CA) – A bill that would expand outdoor recreational opportunities throughout Alabama passed the state legislature on Tuesday and now goes to the desk of Governor Kay Ivey.

Senate Bill 298 was inspired by Innovative Alabama, a report by Hoover scholars in which they provide a series of recommendations on how that state’s policy leaders can create an ecosystem for entrepreneurship and technological innovation.

The report’s second chapter, co-authored by senior fellow Stephen Haber, the late research fellow Alexander Galetovic, Stanford PhD candidate Jordan Horrillo, and Hoover senior research program manager Isabel Lopez Ysmael, recommends for the state to increase investment in the creation and expansion of outdoor recreation infrastructure. In a Hoover Q&A about the research, Haber explains that one of the ways to attract high-skill workers to an area—in addition to moderate costs of living, good public schools, and a sane regulatory environment—is a beautiful natural environment that is easily accessible.

Accordingly, the report describes how Alabama’s geography, crisscrossed with rivers and streams and set in the north on the Cumberland Plateau’s rolling hills, is not developed at the same scale as neighboring states.

The text for SB 298 calls for the Alabama Council on Outdoor Recreation (the creation of which was also recommended by the report) to adopt a master plan for greenway trails throughout the state and to coordinate with the state department of revenue to implement a voluntary system by which benefactors can receive tax credits for property they donate in compliance with the master plan. The legislation, if signed, would establish the Sweet Trails Alabama Project Fund to support projects that would also be in compliance with the master plan.

Hoover’s partnership with the Alabama Innovation Commission (AIC) began in summer 2020, when Governor Ivey appointed Hoover Institution director Condoleezza Rice (an Alabama native) to be a member of the AIC’s advisory council. Subsequently, Rice marshaled a cohort of Hoover fellows (among them Haber) to generate policy ideas intended to spur the state’s economic development.

In support of the report’s publication, Senior Fellow Josh Rauh launched a policy lab, in which student researchers from Stanford business and law schools and Alabama colleges and universities explored obstacles and solutions to expanding innovation.

Click here to learn more about the Hoover-Alabama Innovation Initiative.

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