Vitali applauds House vote against bill to foster commercial development in state parks, but urges caution

HARRISBURG, June 29 – State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-Delaware/Montgomery, today applauded the House vote against a bill that would promote commercial development such as amusement parks and office buildings in state parks, but he urges vigilance as the bill could be brought up for a vote again.

Vitali, Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, noted that H.B. 2013 was defeated in the House by a vote of 123-77 with opposition from both parties.

However, a reconsideration vote was immediately filed by the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Brian Ellis, R-Butler, and House Majority Whip Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster. The reconsideration means that the bill can be voted on again this session, maybe as soon as this afternoon.

“Passage of this bill would lead to improper development on state lands without any public input,” Vitali said. “People who care about state parks need to stay vigilant and urge their members to vote against it again.”

Although the bill was amended to make it less harmful, it still contains language that considers the development of amusement parks, office buildings, hotels, inns, restaurants, water parks, sports facilities and golf courses in state parks, Vitali said.

“State parks were created to preserve areas of the commonwealth with unique scenic, historic or geological characteristics,” Vitali said. “These types of developments are inconsistent with the mission of state parks.”

The bill is opposed by numerous environmental and conservation groups, including the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, which called the bill a “frontal assault on Pennsylvania’s state park system.”

“Our parks are not broken – they are award-winning, generate over a billion dollars a year in economic activity, and return over $12 for every dollar invested,” PEC said in a statement in opposition to the bill. “Considering the array of awards bestowed upon DCNR for management and planning, it is easy to argue that our state parks are not only fully in the 21st century, they are leading the way.”