Legislative Priorities

Washington Recreation & Park Association – 2019 Legislative Agenda

Top Priorities

*Provide Local Parks and Recreation Agencies with new Funding Options to Address Vital M&O and Preservation Needs and to Enhance Economic Development

Parks and recreation are outdoor, quality-of-life amenities that are highly valued by the public.  They offer activities that help us maintain physical health and well-being; protect open spaces and facilities that make our communities attractive and vibrant; they help to sell homes.  Just as importantly, local parks and recreation programs enhance jobs-creation and economic development efforts and build trail networks that connect our communities.  But investments in local parks and recreation suffered during the Great Recession and have lagged behind areas such as public safety in the years afterward.  At the same time, a WRPA survey of parks agencies has shown a growing M&O deficit and backlog.  WRPA will work with key lawmakers on a package of new funding ideas for local parks and recreation and urges adoption of a “local options” menu in 2019.

Enact 2019-21 Capital Budget – Including Key Funding Targets for WWRP, YAF, ALEA

(Capital Budget) The biennial Capital Budget submitted by the Governor and acted on by the Legislature is a mission-critical, job-creating investment in outdoor recreation, schools, local communities, and more. WRPA urges the Governor and State Legislature to adopt a 2019-21 Capital Budget that includes these recommendations from the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board (RCFB): $130 million for the Washington Wildlife & Recreation Program (WWRP); $12 million for the Youth Athletic Facilities program (YAF); and $6.6 million for the Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account.

Protect Funding for Dedicated Accounts within the Capital Budget

(Capital Budget) As the Legislature considers the 2019-21 Capital Budget, WRPA urges lawmakers to refrain from diverting funding from dedicated accounts that are focused on funding outdoor recreation activities.  Additionally, WRPA urges legislators to utilize the dedicated accounts for fund outdoor recreation programs, and avoid the use of “bond backfill” that ends up putting funding in jeopardy and in competition with other critical construction projects. Dedicated accounts that are key to WRPA 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.

 “Support/Oppose” Items

Support Efforts to Address Mental Health, Homelessness, Affordable Housing

(Policy Bills) WRPA will strongly support efforts led by cities and counties, the Low-Income Housing Alliance, and others, to ensure the Legislature provides tools 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, those in need of shelter will seek out other public lands to use, leaving parks officials attempting to manage issues they are ill-equipped to resolve

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 by the State Department of Health (DOH), 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 is prepared to support 2019 legislative and budget efforts by the Big Tent to establish an outdoor recreation master plan and to establish a single portal for promoting outdoor recreation activities available to visitors and residents.

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

(Policy Bill/Bills) The Office of Financial Management (OFM), through a study provision passed by the Legislature, has been analyzing costs and benefits of a simplified, one-stop way of delivering Discover Pass and outdoor recreation pass programs.  WRPA will need to see details of a 2019 legislative proposal in this area, but is prepared to support a bill that makes the system of passes more convenient, equitable, and user-friendly.

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.