Legislative Priorities

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.

Commonwealth Legislative Priorities

Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund
2018 marks the 25th anniversary of the Keystone Fund. Since its inception in 1993, the Keystone Fund has improved communities across Pennsylvania by providing grants for parks, trails, open space, libraries, and historic preservation. Throughout the year, a team of state agencies and organizations, including PRPS, is leading a campaign to celebrate the Keystone Fund’s 25 years of success and emphasize the need to protect this valuable funding source so it can continue enhancing communities. Learn more at keystonefund.org.
    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 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 supports a bill that would amend the Human Services Code to exempt public preschool programs from certification requirements as preschool child day care center facilities. 

    Trails/Greenways

    Develop innovative programs to address the challenges of Pennsylvania’s recreation, park and trails in our older communities.

      Community Parks

      Guard against misuse or inappropriate development or conversion of public 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).

          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.

            Legislative Education

            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.

             

            Pending Pennsylvania Legislation

            To be updated as bills are introduced in the 2019 Legislation session.

             

            Federal Legislative Priorities

            PRPS is a state affiliate of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and supports the advocacy work of NRPA in the following areas.

            See NRPA’s  Take Action    Advocacy Insider    Advocacy Resources    Park Champions Initiative

            Conservation
            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 has expired, but is expected to be voted upon by the end of 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.

            Social Equity

            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)
            • The Workplace (OSHA)