Session Update: Parks and Recreation Legislation

This post summarizes the status of various parks and recreation bills that MACo either considered or took a position on.

Concussion Education and TreatmentHB 1HB 858, and SB 771 are similar bills that require school systems and youth sports programs to provide information about concussions to athletes, their parents or guardians, and coaches.  An athlete suspected of having a concussion or other head injury must be pulled from practice or play until cleared by a licensed health care provider.  Based on concerns raised by county parks and recreation departments, MACo supported all three bills with amendments that would clarify the bill’s notice and education requirements for local parks and recreation departments.  The amendments also clarify information that must be provided by youth sports programs when using school or local government-owned recreational facilities.  Status:  HB 858 and SB 771 were amended to become identical bills and both include the MACo amendments.  Both bills have passed their respective house and  are awaiting action by the opposite house.  HB 1 remains in the House and it is unlikely the bill will move as it would be duplicative of the two other bills.

MACo Testimony-House Bill 858

Land Preservation, Parks, and Recreation Plan (LPPRP) Shift to DNRHB 1025 / SB 849 is an administration bill that transfers authority to negotiate State Program Open Space (POS) acquisitions from the Department of General Services to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and consolidates State land use purchases for open space, recreation,  and other purposes under DNR.  The bill also transfers the responsibility of  preparing the LPPRP from the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) to DNR.  MACo took no position on the bill but became involved when the county parks and recreation departments sought to codify the existing practice of local consultation for the LPPRP.  Status:  MACo and the local departments met with DNR Secretary John Griffin, who agreed in a letter to sponsor a departmental bill next Session that would at a minimum require DNR to consult with the local departments on the LPPRP.  He also promised that a workgroup of State and local parks and recreation officials would review the provisions of HB 1025/SB 849 over the interim and make other suggestions or clarifications as needed.  MACo and the local departments accepted the Secretary’s proposal and dropped their request for amendments to this year’s bill.  HB 1025 and SB 849 have each passed their respective houses with identical amendments and are awaiting action by the opposite house.

Local Use of POS Funds: SB 421 would extend the recently expired practice of allowing a local government that has attained its POS land acquisition goals to use all of its POS funds on recreational facilities and projects.  DNR and MDP must certify that a county has attained its acreage acquisition goal.  The bill also removes a 5-year cap on the period of time during which the POS funds may be used for such projects.  Citing the added flexibility the bill would offer for a county that has met its POS land acquisition goals, MACo supported the bill.  Status:  The bill passed the Senate with an amendment adding a 2014 sunset (prior versions of the bill also contained a sunset).  The House has not yet taken action on the bill.   MACo Testimony

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