Counties Push to Preserve Autonomy in Open Space Spending

On March 1, 2022, Associate Policy Director Dominic Butchko testified before the Senate Education Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee in opposition to SB 680 – State and Local Parks – Playground Accessibility – Communication Boards. This bill requires local parks departments to use program open space funding to install communications boards in all county parks.

From the MACo testimony

Historically, the General Assembly has also played an important role with the success of Program Open Space. Legislation has helped to prioritize its use for the balanced goals of land preservation and active resident access. This visioning role should remain the province of a citizen legislature, to guide and refine the scope of the program as times change. SB 680, however, goes beyond broad vision-setting and requires counties to use program funds to install potentially costly communication boards at each of their parks. Not only does mandating such an expense go against the original design of Program Open Space, but it also hampers a county’s ability to pursue more cost effective or innovative solutions that may be more appropriate for their community.

If the Committee seeks to advance the availability of this technology for the use of park visitors, a central procurement with either planned use by local parks, or local opt-in to “ride” on the statewide contract, could promote wider adoption of this technology.

MACo will be testifying on the bill’s crossfile, HB 1332, on March 9, 2022.

More on MACo’s Advocacy:

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2022 legislative session on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database.
Learn more about MACo’s 2022 Legislative Initiatives.
Read more General Assembly News on MACo’s Conduit Street blog.

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