This post summarizes the status of various parks and recreation bills that MACo took a position on during the 2021 Regular Session.
County government parks and recreation departments provide a range of public recreation programs for all segments of the population and maintain a large network of open spaces throughout Maryland. MACo’s advocacy seeks to support the efforts of county parks and recreations by urging state and federal funding support and defending local determination of priorities in parks and recreation.
This year the Maryland General Assembly conducted a legislative session unlike any other due to the enduring COVID-19 pandemic. The unique circumstances surrounding the 442nd legislative session, including necessary health and safety measures, posed a challenge for lawmakers and advocates alike. Despite the unusual circumstances, MACo’s advocacy still led to more positive outcomes for its members.
For more information on Maryland’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic visit MACo’s COVID-19 resource page.
MACo suggested amendments to legislation that would have prohibited the use of state funds to plant nonnative plants. The policy change could have impacted projects such as Bermuda grass ball fields, or certain transportation projects. Procurement – Invasive and Nonnative Plant Species – Prohibition on Use of State Funds was amended to address MACo’s concerns, and as passed by both chambers only applies to invasive species.
MACo opposed legislation that would have injected a State mandate into local jurisdictions’ practices to promote ethical behavior for visitors to parks and natural areas. The bill would have compliance in order for jurisdictions’ residents to benefit from the State’s centerpiece land acquisition and preservation effort, Program Open Space. Program Open Space – Local Projects – Visitor Behavior Policies was amended to address the majority of county concerns, but did not advance out of committee in the House.
For more on parks and recreation-related legislation tracked by MACo during the 2021 legislative session, click here.