Senate Committee Passes MACo Program Open Space Bill

On March 8, the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee resurrected a MACo bill regarding Program Open Space (POS) that it had previously given an unfavorable report on, and passed the bill with MACo proposed amendments.  The bill and amendments were the result of an interim collaboration between MACo, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), MML, and local parks and recreation directors.

Under current law, indoor recreational facilities located outside of Priority Funding Areas (PFAs) are limited to receiving 50% POS funds.  As amended, SB 442 allows DNR to waive the 50% cap if the facility is designed to serve multiple PFAs or population centers within a PFA and contains unique equipment or facilities, such as a swimming pool, that cannot be supported in multiple locations.  The location of the facility must also be consistent with the local government’s comprehensive plan.  The purpose of the exception is to allow for the funding of large, regional recreation and community centers (mainly in rural jurisdictions) that cannot be supported in each population center and are centrally located to serve multiple population centers.  The bill also clarifies a provision relating to the use of federal funds for POS projects.

The House Environmental Matters Committee heard the bill’s cross-file, HB 1058, on March 7 and has not yet taken action on the bill.

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