The House hearing on HB 203 Community Parks and Playgrounds – Baltimore and Howard Counties was heard in the House Environment and Transportation Committee on Friday, February 21. Testifying in opposition was MML Past President Rockville Mayor Bridget Newton, Ocean City Director of Parks and Recreation Susan Petito, and MML Government Relations Specialist Candace Donoho. The proponents representing Baltimore and Howard Counties and the Maryland Association of Counties cited the fact that because these two counties have no municipalities, their residents are being shortchanged because their counties are “shut out” of the process to apply for grant funding under the Community Parks and Playgrounds program.
MML panelists testified about the importance of the monies in this very small, $2.5 million program for large and small municipalities across the State primarily because municipalities do not receive a direct allocation of Program Open Space monies from their counties. MML members were asked to send letters of opposition and reach out to members of the House Environment and Transportation Committee and the League was pleased to deliver close to 20 letters of opposition to the Committee on the day of the hearing. The Senate hearings on two identical bills that mirror HB 203 (SB 614 and SB 962) Community Parks and Playgrounds fiscal note will be held on Wednesday, March 4 in the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee Senate EHEA Committee.
If your jurisdiction already submitted a letter opposing HB 203, MML will use the same letter at the Senate hearing, so no need to send in another letter, but an email to members of the EHEA Committee is still desirable. If your municipality would still like to send a letter opposing the bills for the March 4 hearing, letters can be addressed to Chairman Paul Pinsky, Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee, 2 West, Miller Senate Office Building, Annapolis, MD 21401. MML’s written testimony on the bill can be viewed here.