October 1, 2008

Advocacy Update: Vying for the Vote

By Futrell, Ashley

Weigh the park and recreation policies of the two major presidential candidates. The 2008 presidential election is just a few months away and a great deal of attention has been given by the candidates to a variety of issues important to Americans, ranging from health care to national security to the state of the economy. Both Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama have been questioned by voters who want to know where they stand on issues that are important to them.

As members of the park and recreation community, we are passionate about supporting parks and public lands; health, physical activity, and recreation; youth development; and livable communities. To fully understand the candidates' positions on issues important to the field, we must analyze their records.



Support for Parks and Public Lands

* Fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund-McCain has called for full funding of the LWCF program. He feels that the state side of the program has been ignored and that the money has been diverted to other Capitol Hill priorities. He believes we must revitalize the LWCF program to help states more effectively meet hometown conservation goals.

* National park system safety-McCain co-sponsored a bill to allow loaded firearms in U.S. national parks. McCain also opposed the "roadless rule" implemented by President Clinton in 2001, which made nearly 60 million acres of pristine national forests off-limits to most logging and road construction.

* Nationalpark and forest protection -McCain voted "yes" on disallowing an oil-leasing program in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). McCain has said that he also does not want to drill in the Grand Canyon or the Everglades.

* Support for the national park system Centennial-McCain strongly supports the establishment of a National Park Centennial Fund that would provide the resources needed to meet the operations needs and reduce maintenance backlogs in national parks.

Promoting Health, Physical Activity, and Recreation

* Promoting healthy Americans and quality of life-McCain realizes that childhood obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure are all on the rise, and believes the federal government should support efforts to reverse these trends by providing healthy food options to schools through the school nutrition program, providing adequate funding for Physical Education Program (PEP) grants, and working to ensure that prevention and maintenance are part of basic health care plans.

Supporting Youth Development and Livable Communities

* Opposition to funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers programs -In 2005, McCain voted "no" to increase appropriations for after-school programs through 21st Century Community Learning Centers. Voting "yes" would have increased funding by $51.9 million for after-school programs run by 21st Century Community Learning Centers and would have decreased funding by $51.9 million for salaries and expenses in the Department of Labor.

* Support for Community Development Block Grant program-McCain supports the 30-year-old CDBG program and opposes the proposal to eliminate and transfer it to the Department of Commerce.

* Opposition to Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act projects-McCain was one of four senators who voted against SAFETEA-LU, mainly because of numerous earmarks in the bill.



Support for Parks and Public Lands

* Support for LWCF funding-Obama is a strong supporter of increased funding for LWCE As a state senator, he supported the creation of the Illinois Open Land Trust Act, which allowed the state to buy property from willing sellers for conservation and recreation purposes, and made grants and loans to local governments for acquiring land for open spaces.

* Nationalpark and forest protectionObama contends that America's national parks and forests have been threatened by lax protection. He fought efforts to drill in ANWR.

* Support for the national park system Centennial-Obama is committed to addressing the funding shortfall that the National Park Service has experienced, and ensuring that by 2016, the centennial of the National Park Service, the system will have the resources to meet maintenance and operational needs

Promoting Health, Physical Activity, and Recreation

* To date, Obama has introduced two major pieces of legislation to improve community health, including the Healthy Communities Act of 2005 and the Healthy Places Act of 2006. "The Healthy Places Act would help state and local governments assess the health impact of new policies or projects, whether it's a new highway or shopping center," Obama says. "And once the health impact is determined, the bill gives grant funding and technical assistance to help address the potential health problems."

Supporting Youth Development and Livable Communities

* 21st Century Community Learning Centers- Obama is dedicated to expanding high-quality after-school opportunities and is committed to double funding for the main federal support for after-school programs, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, to serve 1 million more children.

* CDBG funding-Obama plans to increase federal funding for programs that help working families, including fully funding the CDBG program and other programs that increase the availability of affordable housing.

We encourage readers to review each candidate's record of support on issues that are important to you and the NRPA community, and weigh their campaign promises against their past actions. Above all, we encourage you to exercise your right and privilege to vote for the candidate of your choice.

As in the past, in the upcoming months before the election, the NRPA Public Policy office will be reaching out to the presidential nominees with candidate questions, and we will report our findings.

Ashley Futrell is a senior public policy manager at NRPA's Public Policy office in Washington, D.C. E-mail: [email protected] nrpa.org.

Copyright National Recreation and Park Association Sep 2008

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