The House recently passed HB1822, a bill that improves an existing low-interest loan program for small municipalities — which, on its face, is a good thing. But an amendment (AO5143) was tacked onto that bill in Committee which temporarily restricts 16 different so-called “Special Funds,” including the Keystone Recreation, Park and Conservation Fund (i.e., the money that funds trails and other utilities) until the Governor terminates his disaster emergency order.
That amendment’s purpose was to prevent state agencies from entering into any contracts using those funds. This means that contracts to build or rehabilitate trails, parks, or open space will be delayed until the emergency order is lifted.
It’s very disappointing that elected officials took this step to hamper the ability of the Commonwealth to maintain and improve its open space, parks and trails, just when Pennsylvanians need them the most. Pennsylvania’s parks and trails are overwhelmed with people needing space to get exercise during this “stay at home” period of the pandemic.
Preventing the state government from doing its job is not the answer to overcrowded parks and trails.
The amendment was a last minute thing. And a number of organizations, including the Bicycle Coalition, moved quickly and called State Representatives urging them to remove the amendment.
It was not and the bill passed the House by a vote of 105 to 97 yesterday afternoon.
Representative Hahn, Quinn, Stephens, Thomas joined with Democrats to vote against the bill. It’s now up the Senate.
This situation is moving very quickly. But if you have the time to help out, please call your senator and ask they vote against HB 1882.