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 is scheduled to expire in October 2018.
Environmental Education (Healthy Kids Outdoors Act and No Child Left Inside)
NRPA supports the re-introduction and passage of the Healthy Kids Outdoors Act (HKOA), which would create a national movement to connect Americans, especially children, youth, and families, to the outdoors.
The No Child Left Inside Act of 2015 was previous legislation, of which NRPA was an active supporter. Major portions of this legislation were included in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA) which was signed into law in 2015. The new provisions identified environmental education 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.
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.
Child Nutrition Reauthorization
Every five years, the Child Nutrition Act is due for reauthorization to continue funding to improve and strengthen the federal child nutrition programs, including 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. While the current authorization for the Child Nutrition Act, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, expired in September 2015, the programs continue to operate. It will be taken up for debate once Congress completes its work on the farm bill.
Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act (H.R.1267, S.482)
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.
Health Savings Account Act (H.R.1280)
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.
Workforce Health Improvement Program Act
Current law allows employers to deduct the cost of on-site 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.
NRPA supports the reintroduction and passage of the Workforce Health Improvement Program Act, which would prevent employees who are offered a subsidized health facility membership by their employer from paying income taxes on the value of the benefit.
Dedicated Funding for Active Transportation
NRPA calls upon Congress to protect and maintain dedicated funding for key programs that connect communities, make streets safer, and promote healthy modes of transportation such as walking and biking – accomplished 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, known as the “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.
Community Parks Revitalization (CPR) Act (H.R.343)
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 (H.R.576)
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 fulfill an unmet need within a neighborhood or area.
Parks as Critical Components of Infrastructure
NRPA welcomes the renewed national discussion on the need to rebuild our challenged infrastructure. Whether through direct investment, tax-incentives, innovative financing or, “all of the above”, we call upon the Administration and Congress to work in a bi-partisan manner and ensure that any new federal infrastructure investment strategy includes parks and recreation, active transportation options, as well as “mixed-use” infrastructure as critical pieces to (re)building vibrant and resilient local communities in every corner of the country. In this case, the details matter even more than the level of funding.
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); and,
- The Workplace (OSHA)
Dated: March 30, 2017