A House Republican initiative-- House Bill 2013 (Ellis-R-Butler)-- was amended on the House Floor Monday to create a pilot program to open Pennsylvania’s State Parks to private development by a vote of 152 to 42, eliminating much of the other language in the bill.
The bill was referred to the House Appropriations Committee and is scheduled for a final vote in the House Tuesday.
Because House Bill 2013 was considered by the House Tourism and Recreational Development Committee, but not the House Environmental Committee which has jurisdiction over DCNR, Rep. Greg Vitali (D-Delaware), Minority Chair of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, made a motion to refer the bill to the Environmental Committee for consideration.
The motion failed 82 to 112.
Both the PA Parks and Forests Foundation and the PA Environmental Council opposed the legislation and the amendment saying--
“Given that DCNR already has the ability to work with private partners for projects on state park land, PEC and PPFF believe this legislation is wholly unnecessary and ill-advised. This includes any attempts to approach the issues through pilot or demonstration projects.
“A 2006 Penn State study on the issue can certainly be revisited, but any language calling for specific types of projects or pushing DCNR into development is antithetical to the state park mission.
“We would welcome a dialogue on opportunities to support state parks and DCNR, but it should not start with opening private development on public lands.”
The PA Parks and Forests Foundation sent a letter to Gov. Wolf Monday explaining its concerns about the bill and the amendment.Former DCNR Secretary John Oliver joined the Foundation and PEC in opposing the bill.