2018 Legislative Priorities

Legislative Priorities

Washington Recreation & Park Association – 2018 Legislative Agenda

Top Priorities

Enact 2017-19 Capital Budget – Including Key Funding Targets for WWRP, YAF, ALEA

(Capital Budget) The two-year Capital Budget that is pending in the Washington State Legislature is much more than a document or a “bill.”  It is a mission-critical, job-creating investment in the State of Washington, in outdoor recreation, in schools, and in local communities. WRPA urges the State Legislature to move forward with adoption of a 2017-19 Capital Budget, including agreed-upon allocations of $80 million for the Washington Wildlife & Recreation Program (WWRP) and $4.077 million for the Youth Athletic Facilities (YAF) program.  The negotiated Capital Budget also includes a historically-low $1 million allocation for the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account (ALEA).  WRPA urges lawmakers to enhance funding for both ALEA and YAF in future cycles.

Protect Funding for Dedicated Accounts within the Capital Budget

(Capital Budget) As the Legislature looks to finalize a 2017-19 Capital Budget, WRPA urges lawmakers to refrain from diverting funding from dedicated accounts that are focused on funding outdoor recreation activities.  These include the WWRP, YAF, and ALEA accounts, others such as the Boating Facilities Program (BFP) and Non-Highway Off-Road Vehicle Account (NOVA), and pass-through federal-funding accounts such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).  WRPA urges lawmakers to keep top-of-mind a recent report study showing that the outdoor recreation sector generates $26 billion a year in economic activity for the state, as well as 200,000+ jobs.

Future Initiative:  Funding/Financing Options to Address Parks and Recreation M&O

(Tax Policy Bill) WRPA is concerned about a looming crisis impacting our agencies, which are struggling to fund the growing cost of local parks and recreation infrastructure and M&O.  WRPA will be starting the conversation on this issue in 2018, with an eye toward bringing specific proposals to key lawmakers in preparation for the longer 2019 Session.

“Support/Oppose” Items

Oppose Legislation to Prematurely Place Regulatory Burdens on “Crumb Rubber” Fields

(Potential Policy Bill) WRPA, joined by interests representing schools, Public Health, recyclers, and others, is prepared to oppose legislation that places new regulatory hurdles on the use of crumb-rubber infill on synthetic playing fields.  WRPA makes children’s safety a top priority and is actively engaged in tracking major federal and State of California studies evaluating the health effects of crumb-rubber.  To date, however, all major studies and analyses, including one released earlier this year by the State Department of Health, have shown no elevated health risk from crumb-rubber materials.

“Big Tent” Outdoor Recreation Coalition

(Budgetary, Policy Items) WRPA strongly supports the continued work of the “Big Tent” Outdoor Recreation Coalition, an umbrella organization comprised of several dozen outdoor retailers, non-profits, and others that seek to ensure Washington State recognizes and maximizes the economic, societal, tourism, and health benefits of outdoor recreation.  WRPA especially supports the idea of establishing an “Outdoor Recreation Caucus” of legislators and stakeholders.

Support efforts to make the system of outdoor recreation passes simpler, more equitable, and more convenient

(Policy Bill/Bills) The Ruckelshaus Center, in consultation with state natural resource agencies, is completing a report and recommendations on the state’s use of Discover Pass and outdoor recreation pass programs and ways to make the whole system of passes more convenient and more equitable.  While this issue does not directly touch on local parks and recreation, WRPA is prepared to support legislative initiatives that make outdoor recreation passes more user-friendly for the public.

Advocate for Key “Healthy & Active Communities” Funding within the State Budget Process

(Capital, Transportation, Operating Budgets) As part of its ongoing “Healthy and Active Communities” initiative begun several years ago, the WRPA will work to ensure adequate funding of grant programs and budgetary items that help youth and adults to live active and healthy lifestyles; enhance public health; and combat a growing obesity trend in Washington and across the country.  Key budgetary items WRPA will support include:

  • Public Health District and “Healthiest Next Generation” funding -- Operating Budget;
  • Bicycle and Pedestrian Grant, Safe Routes to Schools, and “Complete Streets” funding in the Transportation Budget;
  • Dedicated accounts and grant programs in the Capital Budget such as WWRP, YAF, ALEA, NOVA, BFP.

Support Efforts to Address Mental Health, Homelessness, Affordable Housing

(Operating Budget, Capital Budget, Policy Bills) WRPA will strongly support efforts led by cities and counties, the Low-Income Housing Alliance, and others, to ensure the Legislature provides appropriate funding and authority for local governments to address growing mental health, homelessness, and affordable housing crises in their communitiesWithout a systematic plan for addressing housing, homelessness, and mental health issues, those in need of housing and shelter will seek out other public lands to use, leaving parks and recreation officials attempting to manage issues they are ill-equipped to resolve. Areas of support will include the following:

  • Housing Trust Fund – allocation of $106 million in the Capital Budget;
  • Increasing a Document Recording Fee for homelessness prevention services;
  • Local funding/financing options for cities/counties (SHB 1797).

Re-Establishing a Statewide Tourism Marketing Program

(Policy Bill) On the heels of the Legislature’s direction to Department of Commerce to conduct a tourism marketing plan, WRPA is prepared to support 2018 legislation that would re-establish and finance a statewide tourism marketing program.  Any such program should emphasize the use of funding toward outdoor-recreation-related activities that are a major tourist draw for our state.

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