2014 End of Session Wrap Up: Parks and Recreation

This post summarizes the status of various parks and recreation bills that MACo took a position on for the 2014 Regular Session.

Maryland Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Act: HB 427 would create a sudden cardiac arrest education and prevention program for school and youth sports programs, similar to program passed for concussions in 2011 (HB 858 / SB 771). The bill would require: (1) any student or youth sports athlete and his or her parent or guardian to receive a sudden cardiac arrest information sheet; (2) school coaches or other athletic officials to receive training on sudden cardiac arrest; (3) a student or youth sports athlete showing symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest to be removed from a game or practice until evaluated and cleared by a physician or nurse practitioner; and (4) specified disciplinary actions to be taken against coaches who violate the removal from play or practice provisions.

MACo supported the bill with amendments that would expand language limiting the liability of school athletic program employees to also apply to youth sports program volunteers and clarify the information distribution requirements for youth sports programs that use public school facilities.

FINAL STATUS: The General Assembly passed HB 427 with amendments that included MACo’s requested liability language and removed the requirement about removing student or youth sports athletes from play if they show symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest and the coach disciplinary provisions. Instead, the amended bill only requires information about sudden cardiac arrest to be distributed by student athletic and school youth sports programs. MACo had no issues with the amendments.

MACo HB 427 Testimony

Public Access to Program Open Space Sites: HB 1312 would require the use of Program Open Space (POS) funding to provide “maximum public access” to State and local recreational facilities and lands. The bill would also require the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and participating local governing bodies to prepare and submit a plan to provide public access to proposed projects to the maximum extent feasible. Similar planning requirements would also be added to the State and local governments’ land preservation and recreation plans. Finally, the bill would specify that POS acquisition funds and monies from the Bay Access Areas Fund could be used for public access projects.

MACo supported the bill with amendments removing the potentially problematic “maximum public access” language and the State and local planning requirements. Instead, MACo proposed language that would require DNR and participating local governments to consider for each POS project whether it is feasible to provide public access and may consider such factors as: (1) funding availability; (2) public safety; (3) readiness of the facility or land to receive the public; and (4) any contractual obligations or other commitment that would limit public access for a period of time.

FINAL STATUS: The General Assembly passed HB 1312 with the proposed MACo amendments.

MACo HB 1312 Testimony

For further information about the bills in this section or other parks and recreation bills, please contact Les Knapp at 410.269.0043 or lknapp@mdcounties.org.