Filtered by author: Clear Filter

Legislative Update from WRPA Lobbyist 02/08/2016

In any other week, what we saw in the first few days of Week 4 would qualify as blockbuster news.  Longtime Sen. Don Benton (R-Vancouver/17th Dist.) announced he would not be running for re-election.  A couple of days later, Rep. Graham Hunt (R-Orting/2nd Dist.) resigned from his seat after the Seattle Times published information about Hunt exaggerating several parts of his military record.  A “Gender Pay Equity” bill passed off the House Floor.  And Senate Minority Leader Sharon Nelson announced a proposal to seek over $300 million – much of it from the state’s “Rainy Day” fund – to address homelessness.

But all that paled in comparison to the whoppers we saw Friday on the Senate Floor and Saturday via a resignation e-mail. 

Read More

Spokane Professional Development Event

1 hour CEU presentation on Building Inclusive Communities

1 hour CEU presentation on Building Inclusive Communities

What: 1 hour CEU presentation on Building Inclusive Communities plus complementary lunch
Where: Crossroads Community Center: 16000 NE 10th St. Bellevue, WA 98008
When: Monday, Feb 22; 11:30 registration and buffet opens; 12-1 CEU presentation; 1-1:30 Q&A and meet and greet
Why: Earn CEU credit and learn about inclusive design and programming best practices
How: Register for free by emailing; please include name, org, phone, email of each person attending. There is no cost associated with attending this event.

Building Inclusive Communities
Providing inclusive play opportunities for people of all ages and abilities is critical for promoting play, healthy physical activity, and learning. Our two unique inclusive programs, Me2 and 2PlayTogether, not only create outdoor play environments that implement best practice design principles, they take inclusive play to the next level by providing outdoor programming to ensure meaningful play for children of all abilities.
Learning Objectives:
•    Apply seven benefits of inclusive playground design to create.
•    Recognize the importance of universally designed play spaces that remove physical and social barriers to ensure meaningful play experiences.
•    Identify design features that consider the physical, social/emotional, communicative, sensory, and cognitive development of children to build on their strengths and address the needs of the whole child.
•    Utilize a variety of program tools and resources that promote inclusive communities through playground design and programming that builds character development.

These inclusive play programs were developed in partnership with PlayCore and Utah State University, Center for Persons with Disabilities and Lekotek, A division of Anixter Center.

Legislative Update from WRPA Lobbyist 02/02/2016

***THANKS FOR A GREAT WRPA/WWRC ADVOCACY DAY:  It was a pleasure to see so many familiar faces last Thursday in the hallways of Olympia!  Dozens of you attended our second consecutive joint advocacy day with our colleagues from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition (WWRC).  I hope the morning training, the noon-hour session with key leaders on outdoor recreation (Sens. Judy Warnick and Karen Keiser, Rep. Steve Tharinger, and the Governor’s outdoor recreation adviser Jon Snyder), and your own in-office meetings made the day a success.  Some of you capped the day with the evening reception in the Governor’s Mansion.  I want to extend my appreciation to our President-Elect Cheryl Fraser for her comments at the reception, to Brittany Jarnot of my office for all of her work in setting up advocacy day, to WWRC for its efforts, and to all of you for making the time.***

Week 3 of the 2016 Legislative Session was a lively one, to be sure.

Read More

Legislative Update from WRPA Lobbyist 01/25/2016

***SEE YOU ALL THURSDAY FOR WRPA/WWRC ADVOCACY DAY:  We look forward to seeing many of you Thursday in the hallways of Olympia for our second consecutive joint advocacy day with our colleagues from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition (WWRC).  Hopefully you’ve received background and talking points information from Brittany Jarnot of my office – if not, please let us know ASAP.  I will be starting all of you off Thursday at 8:15 a.m. sharp with a briefing at the Olympia Women’s Club. You’ll then have a chance to meet with your area legislators, hear from key players on the Capital Budget over the noon hour, and top the day off with a reception at the Governor’s Mansion (space limited, prior registration required).  Should be fun!***

While legislators introduced a slug of new bills and the Senate took a mostly party-line vote on a bill to remedy a Supreme Court decision on charter schools (SB 6194), the headline-makers of Week 2 did their thing outside the hallways of Olympia.

Read More

Join WMS Aquatcs for AFO Certified Pool Operators Academy

Legislative Update from WRPA Lobbyist 01/19/2016

REMINDER – WRPA/WWRC ADVOCACY DAY THURSDAY, JAN. 28:  We hope you’ve all booked your calendars for our second consecutive joint advocacy day with our colleagues from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition (WWRC).  Start your morning with a briefing at the Olympia Women’s Club, meet with your area legislators, hear from key players on the Capital Budget over the noon hour, and top the day off with a reception at the Governor’s Mansion (space limited, prior registration required).  We’re excited to see all of you, and hope you will come join us!***

The first week of the 2016 Session featured the usual assortment of events – swearing in of new Members on Monday, and the Governor’s “State of the State” address on Tuesday.  But it also began with some partisan wrangling between Senate Republican leaders of the Law and Justice Committee and both the Governor and Senate Democratic Leadership.  

At issue is whether the Governor’s investigation of major early-prisoner-release errors by the Department of Corrections is independent enough and whether the Senate Law & Justice Committee should exercise subpoena power to conduct its own investigation.  As Senators held a fact-finding hearing and grilled DOC and Executive Branch officials, the Governor angrily denied the ‘not-independent-enough’ charge.  Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Sharon Nelson (D-West Seattle/34th Dist.) issued a statement urging her GOP counterparts to save the politics for the November election.  Here are a few articles that give you a sense of the testiness back and forth:

That political tiff aside, it was a very typical first several days for those of us on the ground, as we worked to get bills introduced, tracked the hundreds of new bills hitting the “Introduction Sheets,” and covered a wide variety of hearings and work sessions.

For WRPA, it was a very good Week 1.  The bill to update the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) is out and up for a Senate hearing; our recreational immunity bill has been prepared; and the early reception on our Boating Facilities Program funding priority has been extremely positive.
Following is an overview of where we stand on 2016 priority items, and then a bullet-style rundown of other issues that impact us.  A list of some Week 2 hearings is on Page 5 with recommendations on whether we should testify, sign in, or monitor bills in play.

WRPA Top Priorities

Support Updates & Refinements to WWRP While Preserving Structure, Integrity of Program
The Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) request bills, SB 6227/HB 2509, has been introduced.  As is protocol with Executive- or Agency-request bills impacting the Capital Budget, the bill is prime-sponsored by House Capital Budget Chair Steve Tharinger (D-Dungeness/24th Dist.) and Senate Ways & Means Capital Budget lead Jim Honeyford (R-Sunnyside/15th Dist.).  We are supportive of this bill, which would greatly simplify the WWRP funding-allocation formula to a ’45-45-10’ approach that slightly increases overall funding for local parks and trails.  The legislation also would tilt a bit more Local Parks category funding to development projects, directing the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board to allocate no less than 40 percent, and no more than 50 percent, to acquisition (vs. the current 50/50 assumption).  While we anticipate numerous Senators looking for a more pronounced change in development vs. acquisition funding across the board, and while groups such as WWRC have some fine-tuning ideas, the legislation has been well-received thus far.  6227 has been scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. Thursday hearing in the Senate Natural Resources and Parks Committee.  I am planning to testify in support.

Boating Facilities Program -- Appropriation in 2016 Supplemental Capital Budget
We’re very supportive of a $4.85 million allocation in the Governor’s proposed Fiscal Year 2016 Supplemental Capital Budget (SB 6201/HB 2380) for the BFP.  This funding in Sec. 3008 of the budget is not new money, but rather a proposal to expedite and put to use the first-year funding from the marine-fuel tax portion of the 11.9-cent gas tax the 2015 Legislature approved as part of the 16-year, $16.1 billion “Connecting Washington” transportation package.  As I noted, legislators we have met with are very supportive of this allocation, as it allows more state agency and local agency boating facilities projects to be funded without impacting Capital Budget capacity.

Clarifying and Reinforcing Recreational Liability Immunity for Multi-Purpose Trails
We thank Senate Transportation Committee Chair Curtis King (R-Yakima/15th Dist.) for his prime-sponsorship of SB 6384, legislation to clarify the “recreational immunity” statute (RCW 4.24.210) in state law.  The 6384 legislation attempts to clarify that trails which are dual-purpose in nature, and may have transportation-related funds in their overall financing, should still remain ‘covered’ under recreational immunity laws.  While the Camicia vs. Howard S. Wright Construction and City of Mercer Island case spurred the drafting of this legislation, we’re now aware of other troubling cases in Bothell and elsewhere.  We don’t want to see parks and recreation agencies face major liability exposure questions in the building or extending of trail systems just because they have both bicycle-commuter and recreation functions.  Look for groups representing trial lawyers and bicyclists to register concerns/opposition to this legislation – we have meetings scheduled with both.  No hearing has yet been scheduled on 6384, which is being referred to Senator King’s Committee.

Governor’s “Healthiest Next Generation” Initiative
We have let all of you know that the Governor’s proposed Fiscal Year 2016 Operating Budget (SB 6246/HB 2376) includes $246,000 in ongoing funding and staffing support for the ‘HNG’ initiative.  The funds are in Sec. 219(15) for all you policy wonks out there.  It will be several more weeks before we see the Legislature’s Operating Budget leads trot out their versions of an operating budget.  As a practical matter, while we strongly support the Healthiest Next Generation work, we have urged the Governor’s Office to give more consideration and attention to ‘built environment’ programs that keep people healthy and active, such as the Youth Athletic Facilities (YAF) portion of the Capital Budget and of course WWRP.

WRPA Support/Oppose Items

Support funding and policy initiatives to address growing mental health, human services, and homelessness issues in local communities:  The 2016 Session is quickly becoming known as one where we will see a series of proposals offered to authorize local option tools to address affordable housing.  Among these are HB 2544/SB 6239, HB 2395, HB 2397, all of which are being heard in Week 2.  2544/6239 is a Seattle-promoted bill to extend the multi-family housing property tax exemption program for new construction to preservation of existing affordable housing.  2395 would assess a fee on developers who convert affordable housing into condominiums.  2397 would assess a fee on developers who are demolishing or “taking down” affordable housing units.  The Seattle bill, which focuses the property tax exemption on the local share only and is sponsored in the Senate by Floor Leader Joe Fain (R-Auburn/47th Dist.), likely has the best chance of passage among these bills.  6239 had a hearing Monday (1/18) in the Senate Government Operations Committee.

Provide Flexibility for Counties to Use Some Conservation Futures Proceeds Toward M&O
Nothing to report coming out of Week 1.

Protect funding for dedicated accounts within the Capital Budget
Nothing new to report coming out of Week 1.

Oppose legislation to prematurely place a moratorium on use of crumb-rubber materials for turf fields, but support efforts to further study whether the material presents measurable health risks
While we have not yet seen a moratorium bill on the crumb-rubber front, we have seen the introduction of HB 2547 by Rep. Gerry Pollet (D-Seattle/46th Dist.).  2547 has been referred to the House Environment Committee and has not yet been scheduled for a hearing.  I want to thank Andrew Austin of Metro Parks Tacoma, who will be joining me this Friday for a meeting with the Committee Chair, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-Burien/34th Dist.).  I have already talked with Committee Vice-Chair Strom Peterson (D-Edmonds/21st Dist.), who does not support the 2547 legislation.  While 2547 does not call for an outright moratorium on the installation of crumb-rubber, it has some pretty slanted language in the intent section and has Section 3 provisions that essentially allow the Department of Ecology to veto the use of crumb-rubber for any fields project if a broad array of conditions are not met.

”Big Tent” Outdoor Recreation Coalition – 4th Annual Rally Day, Wednesday, Feb. 3
The fourth version of the Big Tent’s Rally Day will be its biggest ever, and will actually be held in a (heated) Big Tent on the Capital Campus grounds.  While the Rally Day will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the program porition of the day is set for 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.  Confirmed speakers include Governor Inslee, former Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, and Senators Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island/40th Dist.) and Andy Hill (R-Redmond/45th Dist.).  A tentative additional speaker is mountaineering legend Jim Whittaker.  Lastly, the Governor’s new outdoor recreation sector lead, Jon Snyder, will be part of the program as well.

Submit your WRPA Award Nominations Now!

WRPA Awards

WRPA Awards Program Opens on January 4.  Don't Miss Out on the Opportunity to Recognize Parks, Programs, and Projects as Well as Deserving Professionals in the Industry!

If the City of Pawnee's Parks and Recreation Department Director approves the process, you know it's worthwhile.

This is your chance to help WRPA recognize the best of the best in the recreation and park industry. Perhaps you know a professional, a legislator or an organization that should be honored for their hard work and dedication? Or maybe, your agency built a new park, trail or facility in the past two years.  Also, let's not forget the cutting edge marketing and programming that so many of you have recently rolled out!  WRPA will recognize the highest performers in all of these categories, but we can't celebrate these successes without your nominations!

What Your Peers Are Saying about the WRPA Awards Program

 “Recognizing your team for the great work they do is one of the most important aspect of being a supervisor. The WRPA annual awards allows for your city and staff to be recognized for the innovate programming by their peers.  The awards are also a great place to gather awesome programing and facility ideas. I would encourage supervisors to challenge their staff to submit successful programs they are proud of. It’s awesome for moral and a great way to celebrate successes.”

Read More

WRPA Members: Nominate Now For Three Open Board Positions

The Washington Recreation and Park Association Nominating and Election Task Force is putting out a call for nominations for the 2016 WRPA Board of Directors. The following three Board positions are up for election:

  • Office of Vice President
  • Region 1: King County Regional Director 
  • Region 2: Northwest Regional Director

All three positions are 3 year terms. The Vice President position moves into President Elect, then President, for a total of three years. After confirmation by the Board, a slate of candidates will be voted on by the WRPA membership in March 2016.

Read More

State Charts: The Economic Impact of Local Parks

State Charts: The Economic Impact of Local Parks

The positive benefits of local and regional park agency spending ripple through the economies of all 50 states and in the District of Columbia. On this page, learn how operational and capital spending at the local and regional parks in your state contributes to economic activity and employment.

The sum of the state-level impacts presented in the following charts does not equal the national-level estimates of nearly $140 billion in economic impact and almost 1 million jobs. This is not an error but instead reflects how the economic impact of local and regional parks spending is not contained within state borders. For example, if the fertilizer used on sports fields located at an Oklahoma City park was produced by a manufacturer in Arkansas, the value of that product production would not count as an impact on the Oklahoma economy and the study does not add this impact back into the estimates for Arkansas.

Read about the Economic Impact of Local & Regional Parks by State

Annual Conference Preliminary Program

Check out the 2016 Annual Conference Preliminary Program!


This beauty has everything you need to learn more about the upcoming WRPA Annual Conference and Tradeshow. Download the program and print to share around your office.

Read More

Article on Land and Water Conservation Fund

This article provides an overview of the current debate on the federal level around the renewal of the Land and Water Conservation Fund:

U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop wants to do more damage to the expired Land and Water Conservation Fund. His bill needs to be stopped, and the bipartisan LWCF revived.

U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah, the Republican chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, earned the moniker of obstructionist-in-chief when he single-handedly killed reauthorization on Oct. 1 of the bipartisan, half-century old Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

In the nanosecond it took to block a bill with 195 bipartisan co-sponsors, America’s signature conservation and outdoor-recreation program fell away.

To add insult to impasse, Bishop recently introduced his own bill to dismember — inspired feature by inspired feature — the last vestiges of the LWCF. In his press materials, Bishop brags that his bill to “modernize” the expired LWCF provides “only minimal funds for federal land acquisition and significantly limits what can be acquired.” It also provides grants to encourage STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education of students in offshore oil and gas production, since lease royalties from ocean drilling had been the fund’s no-taxes revenue source.

Bishop’s bill, which receives a hearing Wednesday, does violence to the Republican legacy of conservation heavyweights from Teddy Roosevelt to former Washington Gov. Dan Evans.

Bishop’s push represents an in-your-face challenge to conservation-minded Republicans like U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert of Auburn, a vigorous supporter of outdoor recreation and the LWCF. It also will be a litmus test for freshman Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, the only member of Washington’s congressional delegation to serve on the committee.

Newhouse is a shrewd moderate and early co-sponsor of a key Puget Sound recovery bill to align federal funding with state programs. On Bishop’s rollback bill, Newhouse should buck his chairman and side with the Reichert/Evans wing of his party.

Sadly, there never had been anything partisan about the LWCF — until now.

In late July, Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, joined forces with Washington Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell, the committee’s ranking member, to permanently reauthorize the fund. After listening to Bishop’s extremist palaver on Wednesday, members should move for a hearing on the original LWCF reauthorization bill sponsored by the committee’s ranking member, Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz. It easily would pass.

For now, Congress’ obstructionist-in-chief needs a dose of his own obstruction.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Brier Dudley, Mark Higgins, Jonathan Martin, Thanh Tan, Blanca Torres, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).

WRPA comments for RCO Facilitators & RCO

On behalf of the Washington Recreation & Park Association (WRPA), Lobbyist, Doug Levy is pleased to submit our comments and concerns on the “Draft Framework” for WWRP revisions that was sent out to everyone last Friday afternoon.
You will see that we have expressed general support for the simplified Allocation Formula, suggested more thinking and re-working go into the transition/timing element, and then listed our concerns in rough order of the level of concern.  In each case we provide specific requests for changes to or clarifications of the document.
This WRPA response was organized through an initial one-hour conference call with our point people on the process (Pete Mayer, Arvilla Ohlde, Larry Otos, joined by President Brad Case and legislative chair John Keates, followed by an initial draft, and refined through comments from numerous Members after we shipped it to our larger Legislative Committee distribution list.

Read the Comments/Concerns here!

Volunteers Needed to Evaluate Grants for Parks, Trails and Farmland and Wildlife Habitat

Volunteers Needed to Evaluate Grants for Parks, Trails and Farmland and Wildlife Habitat

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) is seeking volunteers to evaluate grant proposals that will help decide which parks and trails should be funded and what farmland and wildlife habitat should be conserved in the state.

RCO is looking to fill vacancies on nine advisory committees that will evaluate and rank grant proposals in the spring and summer of 2016 for all types of recreation around the state. Volunteers with expertise in project design or management, landscape architecture, planning, engineering, permitting, or property acquisition especially are encouraged to apply. Volunteers serve 4 years. Applications are due Oct. 30.

Read More

Legislative Update on State Parks budget

With the end of the 2015 session - finally! – occurring the second week in July, State Parks leadership has had to scramble quickly to fully understand the financial resources available to us and come up with a program and spending plan for the 2015-17 biennium. The good news is that the Governor and Legislature - and park visitors through the fees they pay and the donations they generously give to State Parks - have provided resources that allow the agency to make some modest but significant investments to basic park operations. 

Below you will see an overview of the extent and direction that those additional resources are to be used.

  • Converting about 14 seasonal Park Ranger 2 positions to year round. This will be done by investing some of the new resources and by eliminating vacant positions caused by the difficulty of recruiting and filling seasonal positions.
  • Converting six project construction and maintenance positions to permanent, year round; adding a new construction and maintenance position; and extending the duration of maintenance mechanic positions to address preventative and custodial maintenance in parks.
  • Adding and/or extending of administrative support positions in the field to streamline administrative processes and improve the ability of other staff to focus more on direct customer service.
  • Adding and/or extending hours of seasonal park aide and other non-permanent positions in the field to improve park custodial maintenance and provide customer service.
  • Investing in three new positions to address tree risk, forest health and other statewide stewardship needs.
  • Committing more staff hours for capital project scoping and support of operations project planning and permitting; and hiring a new facilities manager to coordinate the assessment and overall care of park facilities.
  • Hiring an internal auditor to improve internal controls and ensure compliance requirements due to increased revenue and program changes.
  • Adding three technology staff to support agency business and improve data collection and management.
  • Investing some additional staff hours in communications and human resources to support agency business.
Because the budget passed by the Legislature is based on ambitious revenue projections and use of cash reserves, we are making many of the staffing investments in seasonal or project positions rather than in permanent staff.  This allows us to take advantage of revenues we are earning now in order to spend where it will help most now.  This strategy also protects the agency and staff in case of a revenue downturn later in the biennium.

Legislative Update from WRPA Lobbyist 07/15/2015

An Olympia-based scribe captured it well in his coverage of the Session’s adjournment: “At long last, it’s over.”
The 2015 Legislature will go down in the record books for having the longest single-year set of Sessions in state history, spanning nearly six months (176 days). You can actually dial back to a longer series of Sessions – 229 days in 1975-76 -- but those were spread over two years vs. one.
Yet while the Sessions torturously stretched on and on – triggered mostly by a high-profile Operating Budget debate illustrating divided philosophies on governing, spending, and taxes – the 2015 Legislature will also be remembered for some very good end products: an Operating Budget that adds $1.3 billion in new expenditures for K-12 education; a cut in tuition rates at colleges and universities; perhaps the most prolific Capital Budget in nearly a decade; and a historic transportation revenue-and-reform package.
Those of us in parks and recreation and outdoor recreation will also look back at the 2015 Session(s) as an extremely productive one. We can honestly look over our top priorities and see significant progress on every one. There were several important ‘wins’ we can tally up, specifically:

The Legislature approved a historic level of funding for the Youth Athletic Facilities (YAF) program -- $10 million! Of that, $7 million is set aside for grants and $3 million was earmarked for two specific projects.  Remember, though, that after the Recreation & Conservation Funding Board recommended a $12 million allocation for YAF, the Governor’s Capital Budget proposal – and the one from the House – came in at $3 million. The Senate placed a high value on the YAF and came in at $10 million, a figure that held through negotiations. Just the $7 million for competitive grants tops the $6 million program request we in WRPA made to lawmakers! Parks agencies and parks districts that applied for YAF through a letter of intent will now learn by fall whether they qualify for any funding under the Program;

Closing out a high-profile debate over the future of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, the Legislature retained the current structure of WWRP, funded it at $55.3 million, and added another $46 million of investments in local parks and trails, water access, and farmland preservation projects (mostly through $37.1 million of projects in a “Recreation Grant” category for RCO). If you tally the WWRP projects funded within the program category and related ones, the $101+ million investment tops even the $100 million WWRP appropriation we saw in 2007. As we well know, lawmakers also approved a proviso directing an interim stakeholder process and the development of recommended statutory changes to the WWRP. The proviso followed much of the script of a proviso we had put submitted in partnership with the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition (WWRC).

The third time was the charm in our journey of working on passage of a bill to simplify and streamline the definition of what amusement and recreation and physical fitness services should be subject to sales tax. Legislators approved House Bill 1550, which has been signed into law and takes effect Jan. 1, 2016. Under the 1550 statute, we will no longer have to worry about recreational leagues or swim lessons or field rentals being subject to sales tax and we should have less administrative headaches with a statute that is clearer and more explicit.

Lawmakers took a top recommendation from the Governor’s Outdoor Recreation Task Force, put it in motion, and passed a landmark piece of legislation, ESSB 5843. Along with re-injecting funding into the No Child Left Inside program ($1 million), the bill establishes for the first time ever a designated outdoor recreation sector lead adviser within the Governor’s Office. Washington now moves to the forefront among U.S. states in valuing the economic importance of outdoor recreation and staffing the Governor’s Office with a person who will focus on promoting and growing the outdoor recreation economy. The state’s Operating Budget includes $331,000 to fully fund the Outdoor Recreation staffer.

While Washington State Parks had hopes of a higher funding level, the $26 million in general fund support allocated to State Parks puts the agency on much more solid footing. The appropriation also marks a clear recognition that the state’s cherished parks system should not funded on a Discover Pass and fee-for-service basis alone.

The Legislature approved the first major new investment in transportation infrastructure – with a package of revenue, spending, and bonding bills (ESSB 5987, E2SSB 5988, ESSB 5989) due to be signed into law on Wednesday afternoon. For those of us in WRPA, there is plenty to cheer – starting with the fact that a “Complete Streets” grant program is funded for the first time ever at $106 million over 16 years. Lawmakers also added $75 million to the existing Bicycle & Pedestrian Grants program and $56 million to the Safe Routes to Schools program. Additionally, for city and county parks agencies, I would note that the Legislature appropriated $375 million over 16 year for direct distributions to local governments. That funding is fairly flexible and can be applied in part to multi-modal needs.
We can also take pride in the fact that lawmakers imposed very few new mandates or pre-emptions on local agencies, and enacted a series of value-added policy bills.
That doesn’t mean there weren’t some disappointments, because, of course, there were.  For one, lawmakers passed a bill mandating a delayed collection of GMA impact fees.  But even there, there was a silver lining in terms of the amendments to the bill and the time and tools provided for us to deal with it.

Over the next several months, we will now go into “interim” mode – but we have an incredibly important interim process to keep our eye on and participate in. The review of, and recommended changes to, the WWRP needs to be treated as a big, big deal, and I would suggest we in WRPA need to be very active in not only participating in but shaping this process. More to come on that front in the weeks ahead. For now, I will be working on some thank-you letters to the key players involved in the 2015-17 Capital Budget – we’ll have those out to you within a few days.
Top Priorities
Enhance WWRP funding in 2015-17 Capital Budget (Capital Budget): As noted above, WWRP remains in its current structure, funded at $55.3 million. Another $46+ million was appropriated in other categories for WWRP listed projects. In particular, through a $37.1 million list of “Recreation Grants” under RCO, lawmakers invested more significantly in local parks and trails projects than ever before.
HB 1550 - DOR request legislation on “Amusement and Recreation Services” sales taxes (Policy Bill): As noted above, this bill has been signed into law and takes effect Jan. 1, 2016. We have provided Members with a table showing what is and is not subject to sales tax under the new law. Contact Doug Levy or Brittany Jarnot if you would like this re-sent.
Re-establish competitive grant funding for the Youth Athletic Facilities (YAF) program (Capital Budget): As noted above, the YAF reaches a new high-water mark with $7 million in competitive grants and another $3 million in earmarks. If your agency previously responded to a letter of interest process through the RCO, you will be eligible for a Fall 2015 grant-funding round. As a reminder, the grants are conditioned with the following language: The appropriation is provided solely for grants for acquisition, development or renovation of youth athletic fields. The recreation conservation office must require grant recipients of youth recreation field grants to have a fee waiver policy for youth athletic clubs who use the fields acquired, developed or renovation with funds from this appropriation. The fee waiver policy must discount or waive fees based on the youth athletic club's rates charged and scholarships provided to low-income athletes compared to other clubs using the fields.
Support Key Recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Outdoor Recreation – ESSB 5843 (Capital and Operating Budgets; Policy Bills): With the passage of 5843 into law, and the bill set to take effect on July 24, one of the first big orders of business is to provide input to the Governor’s Office on the skills, background, and experience we think is essential for the new Outdoor Recreation Sector Lead hire. A group of us will be convening in the next week or two to have a first discussion about possibilities. Another note is that in terms of the No Child Left Inside (NCLI) funding, it appears that RCO will be administering these grants rather than State Parks. This is by choice, as RCO has a grant administration apparatus already in place.
On other Task Force recommendations in the Governor’s Budget or introduced as bills or budget items, we provided a memo and table to all of you last week showing that a number of the top-tier recommendations were positively acted on through bills or the budgets:
Sustainable State Parks Funding: As noted above, $26 million in general fund assistance is provided to State Parks in the 2015-17 biennium.

Real Estate Excise Tax Flexibility
: After being left for “dead,” this bill sprang to life during the Special Sessions. The 2nd Special Session passage of Engrossed House Bill 2122 is a nice – albeit fairly modest – bonus for cities and counties. Under 2122, local governments have the authority to use their second ¼-percent Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) proceeds for the same broad array of purposes as they can use the first ¼-percent. They can also flex up the REET funds toward maintenance needs. In both cases, the flexibility only goes up to $1 million a year maximum, and there must a report compiled showing that the jurisdiction has adequate funding in place or planned to address its Capital Improvement Programs (CIPs). This legislation is a step forward in that it replaces a prior 2011 statute which was temporary in nature. 2122 also removes sunset clause language to make the increased flexibility permanent in statute. The Governor signed 2122 into law last Thursday and it takes effect on Sept. 26, 2015.

"Marine Tourism Bill” – ESSB 6057
: This legislation ended up being tucked into Part VIII of ESSB 6057, a bill providing a few tax incentives to spur economic development and job growth. 6057 was wrapped into the Operating Budget negotiations and thus approved right at the end of the 2nd Special Session. Under current law, large, out-of-state, LLC-designated vessels are subject to an excise tax after 60 days in state waters – which is a disincentive to the larger vessels coming into state waters. Under Part VIII of ESSB 6057, these vessels will be able to stay in Washington waters up to six months a year so long as they obtain a prescribed “vessel permit” for a statutorily-designated fee. The Northwest Marine Trade Association (NMTA) led the successful lobbying effort on this bill, getting it enacted after several years of trying.

“Lid removal” for non-highway purpose fuel tax accounts
: I had reported to you that SHB 1738 looked to be “dead” for the Session, but as readers of my reports know, I have also indicated that “dead” bills can sometimes be resurrected. Such was the case for 1738, after some clarifying conversations between prime sponsor Rep. Ed Orcutt (R-Kalama/20th Dist.) and Senate Transportation Chair Curtis King (R-Yakima/14th Dist.).  When King learned that the refund portions of 1738 were not retroactive, he became more comfortable with it. The bill then passed off the House Floor on June 11 and the Senate Floor on June 27, both by unanimous votes. The Governor signed 1738 into law last Thursday, and it takes effect Sept. 26. 1738 removes a 23-cent cap on the amount of gas tax used for non-highway-purpose allocations, and refunds the lost 14.5 cents of allocation (from back in 2003 and 2005) beginning in the year 2031, after most of the bond obligations have been met from the 2003 “Nickel Package” (5-cent gas tax increase) and 2005 “Transportation Partnership Act” (9 ½ cent gas tax increase). Along with the one-time refund, 1738 also contains language to ensure the non-highway accounts are automatically adjusted upward in the future to coincide with any gas tax increase. Additionally, with the two-phase, 11.9-cent gas tax increase associated with the current gas tax, the proper percentage of new gas tax allocations from that will be credited to the Boating Facilities, “NOVA,” and snowmobile accounts.

Support the Aquatics Conference as a Sponsor!

The Washington Recreation and Park Association invites you to sponsor our 2015 Pacific Northwest Aquatics Conference!

In the ocean of businesses that service the aquatic industry, standing out can be a difficult achievement. Let us help your business gain recognition in the aquatic profession, while you help our association have a successful event! Our sponsors provide lasting financial support that allows our association to host training events. Take advantage of our sponsorship opportunities and your company will be exposed to our entire aquatics membership.

Read through the sponsorship opportunities and contact the WRPA office with your interest!

2015 NAYS Youth Sports Conference

2015 NAYS Youth Sports Congress

The NAYS Youth Sports Congress set for November 18-21 in New Orleans! It’s the only conference completely designed for Youth Sports Administrators. This is a great opportunity to earn professional credentials in youth sports administration!

The National Alliance for Youth Sports is giving WRPA members a great opportunity to attend their annual Youth Sports Congress, the nation’s leading conference for youth sports organizers, to earn (or maintain) the Certified Youth Sports Administrator (CYSA) credential at an exclusive discount. Youth Sports Congress will take place in New Orleans, La. during November 18-21, 2015. WRPA members are eligible to register during the Early-bird  registration period (now until Aug 1st) for $300 and NAYS will provide an additional $10 off of the registration fee. Enter the discount code: EVERGREEN to receive the discount. In addition, NAYS will provide a $20 contribution to WRPA for every registrant that uses the code.

Read More

Everett's Jeff Price hosts NRPA Webinar

The Science of Influence: How Small Became the New BIG


Date: Thursday, June 25, 2015
Time: 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM Eastern Daylight Time

Read More

Summer Blast! Interactive Training

Summer Blast!

This exciting two day interactive training is for youth development professionals. This training focuses on the need to prevent the summer learning gap among youth and works to promote positive summer programming to enhance summer activities for all youth. Summer Blast! will be offering a variety of trainings for conference attendees. You can expect to be part of trainings that focus on academic success for youth, information on child development, how to practice safe boundaries with youth, and the principles of cultural competency. Some of the organizations that will be conducting trainings are Schools Out Washington, the Oasis Youth Center, Tacoma Public Schools, Metro Parks Tacoma, and the Boys &Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound.

Visit the Summer Blast Registration page to learn more!

Read More