This post summarizes the status of various parks and recreation bills that MACo either considered or took a position on.
POS – Location of Indoor Recreational Facilities: HB 1058 / SB 442 is a MACo bill designed to address certain shortcomings in the Program Open Space (POS) law. As amended, the bill allows the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to waive a 50% POS funding cap on certain indoor recreational facilities located outside of Priority Funding Areas (PFAs). The funding cap may be waived for regional facilities that are designed to serve multiple PFAs or population centers within a PFA and have equipment or facilities, such as a swimming pool, that cannot be supported in multiple locations. The local government’s planning and zoning agency must verify that the location of the facility is consistent with the local government’s comprehensive plan. The bill also makes a technical correction regarding the use of federal funds. The bill was the result of a collaboration between MACo, MML, DNR, and local parks and recreation directors. MACo supported the bill with amendments designed to address concerns of several State legislators. STATUS = PENDING. SB 442 was initially given an unfavorable report by the Senate Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee but MACo was able to have the bill reconsidered and the Committee voted favorably on the bill with the MACo amendments. SB 442 has now passed the Senate on second reader. The House Environmental Matters Committee has voted favorably on HB 1058 with identical amendments.
State and Local Land Preservation and Recreation Plans: As amended, SB 126 requires DNR to consult with local governments when preparing the Maryland Land Preservation and Recreation Plan. The bill also requires a local government to complete its local land preservation and recreation plan at least every 5 years instead of 6 years. The time change is necessary to better comply with federal aid requirements. The bill was the result of a collaboration between DNR and MACo and was introduced by DNR at MACo’s request. MACo supported the bill with amendments that altered the original bill to better reflect the agreement reached between MACo and DNR. STATUS = PENDING. SB 126 has passed the Senate with the MACo/DNR amendments and will be heard by the House Environmental Matters Committee on March 30.