PRPS Advocacy Platform
The Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society views these legislative issues as the most important items members can address, and encourages active engagement with local legislators to help benefit the future of parks, recreation and conservation in Pennsylvania.
2017 Commonwealth Legislative Priorities
• As a member of the Growing Greener Coalition, PRPS joins with the Commonwealth’s largest coalition of recreation, conservation and environmental agencies representing nearly 350 organizations and government entities. Since 1999, the Growing Greener program has transformed Pennsylvania by empowering communities to create and improve parks and trails, protect working farms, clean up rivers and streams, and revitalize cities and towns. For more information or to receive action alerts, visit Growing Greener Coalition.
• The Coalition is spearheading the efforts to create a new Growing Greener 3 funding program in 2017 to restore the inadequate levels of funding being provided by Growing Greener 1 and the depletion of the bond funds from Growing Greener 2. Negotiations for the formulation of GG3 are underway with the Governor’s Office and the General assembly.
• PRPS will also actively work with the Coalition to prevent elimination or reduction of existing recreation and conservation funding programs (Keystone, Environmental Stewardship Fund, Farmland Preservation, etc.) in the Commonwealth’s 2017-2018 budget.
Preschool Recreation and Childcare Facility Certification
• The PA Department of Human Services regulations for childcare center facilities extend to public preschool recreation programs. Recreation professionals already meet many of the safety and child protection regulations that the law requires. Yet other aspects of facility certification requirements do not distinguish between a for-profit childcare center and a public recreation program. PRPS is taking the lead to negotiate an acceptable preschool recreation protocol with the DHS in lieu of complying with non-applicable requirements for facility certification.
• Develop innovative programs to address the challenges of Pennsylvania’s recreation, park and trails in our older communities.
• Continue expanding Pennsylvania’s award-winning system of trails and greenways by focusing funding for implementation.
• Guard against misuse or inappropriate development or conversion of public parks.
• Explore opportunities to address maintenance and management issues of community parks.
Defend/Increase Investments in Park & Recreation
• Continue to educate and promote the significant benefits of the Keystone, Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund (visit KeystoneFund.org for more information).
• Explore new sources of funding for community parks and recreation.
Heritage Areas and Historic Preservation
• Enhance funding for historic preservation to take advantage of Pennsylvania’s significant historical assets for recreation and tourism related benefits.
• Restore the heritage areas program as a separate line item and provide adequate support to fully support local economies.
• Enhance the efforts to educate elected and appointed government officials on the many and varied benefits of PA’s outstanding recreation, parks, trails, and conservation programs and facilities.
SB109 – An Act amending the act of December 20, 1985 (P.L.457, No.112), known as the Medical Practice Act of 1985, further providing for definitions and for State Board of Medicine; and providing for recreational therapists.
HB87 -- An Act amending Title 23 (Domestic Relations) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in child protective services, further providing for volunteers having contact with children.
HB520 -- An Act authorizing a tourism promotion fee for counties of the second class; providing for Second Class County Tourism Promotion Fund and for distribution of money from the Second Class County Tourism Promotion Fund; and establishing the Sports Commission in a county of the second class.
ENVIRONMENTAL RESOURCES AND ENERGY
HB113 – (Severance Tax) An Act amending Title 58 (Oil and Gas) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in unconventional gas well fee, repealing expiration; and providing for imposition of tax.
HB543 – (Replacing Ag and Conservation Easements taken) An Act amending the act of December 22, 2011 (P.L.586, No.127), known as the Gas and Hazardous Liquids Pipelines Act, in preliminary provisions, further providing for definitions; and, in related activities, providing for recreational use and for storm water runoff.
SB 1374 (Growing Greener Funding) amends Title 27 (Environmental Resources) of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in environmental stewardship and watershed protection, further providing for legislative findings and establishes the framework for a Growing Greener 3 program. To be reintroduced in 2017.
HB148 -- An Act amending the act of August 15, 1961 (P.L.987, No.442), known as the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act, further providing for the definition of "public work."
HB172 -- An Act amending the act of August 15, 1961 (P.L.987, No.442), known as the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act, further providing for definitions; providing for referendum for prevailing wage rates, for subsequent public referenda and for election interference prohibited; and repealing related provisions of the Public School Code of 1949.
HB260 -- An Act repealing the act of August 15, 1961 (P.L.987, No.442), known as the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act, providing for prevailing wages; imposing duties upon the Secretary of Labor and Industry; providing remedies, penalties and repealing existing laws.
HB261 -- An Act amending the act of August 15, 1961 (P.L.987, No.442), known as the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act, further providing for definitions; and providing for duties of Department of Labor and Industry.
HB297 -- An Act amending the act of August 15, 1961 (P.L.987, No.442), known as the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act, further providing for definitions.
HB527 -- An Act amending the act of August 15, 1961 (P.L.987, No.442), known as the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act, raising threshold for public work.
HB532 -- An Act amending the act of August 15, 1961 (P.L.987, No.442), known as the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act, excluding political subdivisions from the act; and authorizing optional prevailing wage ordinances.
SB333 -- An Act amending the act of August 15, 1961 (P.L.987, No.442), known as the Pennsylvania Prevailing Wage Act, further providing for definitions.
Federal Legislative Prioritiesnd aW
PRPS is a state affiliate of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and supports the advocacy work of NRPA in the following areas:
Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)
NRPA supports a permanently authorized and fully funded Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) with a minimum of 40% of the annual LWCF appropriations allocated to the State Assistance Program. This includes robust funding for the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership (ORLP) urban competitive grant program. LWCF is scheduled to expire in October 2018.
Environmental Education (No Child Left Inside)
The No Child Left Inside Act (NCLI) strengthens and expands environmental education in classrooms by providing funds to encourage partnerships between school districts and parks, as well as other community based organizations. Major portions of NCLI were included in the new Elementary and Secondary Education Act (Every Students Succeeds Act) with Environmental Education identified as eligible for funding under Title IV, Part A of the new law. Authorized at $1.65 billion annually, NRPA supports ample and robust funding for Title IV, Part A of the ESSA.
Healthy Kids Outdoors Act (HKOA)
HKOA would provide funding to states for the development of comprehensive strategies related to expanding environmental education through the school system and finding other means of getting kids and families more physically active in the outdoors.
Protecting Existing Tax Policy
NRPA supports the protection of existing Federal tax policy which supports conservation and outdoor recreation. This includes preserving existing authority to issue tax-exempt municipal-type bonds, as well as tax incentives for conservation easement donations.
Health and Wellness
Prevention and Public Health Grants
Prevention and Public Health Grants are grant programs funded through the HHS/Labor/Ed Appropriations and administered through the Centers for Disease Control that support state and community level programs that prevent and control obesity and other chronic diseases. This includes the CDC Arthritis Program, which provides funding for the sub-awards NRPA gives to community park and recreation agencies to implement the Arthritis Foundation Walk with Ease Interventions.
Workforce Health Improvement Program Act
Current law allows employers to deduct the cost of onsite exercise facilities. Employers lose this benefit if employees receive a subsidy to use an offsite exercise facility. The employee must also pay income taxes on the value of the subsidy as well. The Workforce Health Improvement Program Act would prevent employees who are offered a subsidized health facility membership by their employer from paying income taxes on the value of the benefit.
Health Savings Account Act
Under current law, seniors enrolled in Medicare cannot contribute to a health savings account. Because seniors have paid into Medicare over the duration of their lives, Medicare is required to pay for beneficiaries’ “medically necessary” expenses, rather than allowing them to use health savings accounts. However, Medicare does not pay for certain medical expenses including dental and vision care because they are not considered medically necessary.
The Health Savings Account Act would allow Medicare Advantage participants to contribute their own money to a medical savings account, which can be used to pay for up to $1,000 of dental and vision care, and certain physical activity expenses
Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act
This legislation would expand the IRS definition of medical expenditures to include physical activity as preventative medicine. This would allow individuals to use the pre-tax dollars in Flexible Spending Accounts and Health Savings Accounts to include expenditures such as; membership at a fitness facility, youth and adult sports league fees, exercise classes and other physical activities.
Child Nutrition Reauthorization
Every five years, the Child Nutrition Act must be reauthorized to continue funding for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). SFSP and CACFP are managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and provide the reimbursement dollars for after-school and summer meal programs at park and recreation agencies. Park and recreation agencies are the largest public provider of healthy meals and snacks to children outside of schools. The current authorization for the Child Nutrition Act, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, has expired. It will be taken up for debate once Congress completes its work on the Farm Bill.
Dedicated Funding for Active Transportation
The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST)
Support dedicated funding for Active Transportation options, including trails and pedestrian projects primarily through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP), including the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) and Safe Routes to Schools, as well as Parks. Combined, these programs, found in the federal surface transportation law “FAST Act”, provide approximately $800 million annually for bike and pedestrian projects and to promote pedestrian and bicycling safety in local communities. The FAST Act funds surface transportation programs until October 2021.
NRPA also supports providing additional resources to local communities to build networks of sidewalks, bike lanes and paths with low-cost loans as part of the federal transportation financing program known as TIFIA.
Community Parks Revitalization (CPR) Act
This legislation would provide matching federal grants for park and recreation infrastructure in metropolitan areas. Specifically, this legislation would authorize the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide funding to local park and recreation agencies, through three grant programs: Rehabilitation and Construction, the Innovation and Recreation Program and the Recovery Action Program. The bill also includes innovative financing for park infrastructure (known as PIFIA).
Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)
The Community Development Block Grants are administered though the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. These grants support local community development activities aimed at neighborhood revitalization, economic development, and improvement of community facilities, such as parks and recreation. Historically this program has provided up to $100 million annually for park and recreation infrastructure.
The Social Impact Partnership Act
The Social Impact Partnerships Act would leverage public-private partnerships to utilize private dollars for public projects that improve the lives of families and individuals, and reduce rates of asthma, diabetes, and other preventable diseases that lead to higher healthcare spending.
Known as “pay for success” and similar to social impact bonds, these short-term pilot projects would need to demonstrate that they could be scaled, that the desired social outcome would save federal, state, and local governments money on healthcare costs, and fulfil an unmet need within a neighborhood or area.
Federal Regulatory Policy
NRPA will continue to serve our industry with regard to monitoring, reporting and responding to Federal Agency actions which may impact how Park and Recreation Agencies and professionals operate, including, but not limited to FEDERAL regulations related to:
• Employee salary & benefits (ex. federal minimum wage, overtime pay and healthcare);
• Environmental policy (Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, climate issues);
• Community Health (tobacco bans, marijuana decriminalization, taxes on “sugary” products);
• Access/Equity (Americans with Disabilities Act, LGBTQ);
• Smart Design (“Complete Streets”, LEED Certification);
• Wildlife Conservation (Endangered Species Act); and,
• The Workplace (OSHA).