Presenter: Lisa Fitzgerald

Commission Agenda Item No. 8
Action
Parklands Passport Regulations
November 1998

I. DISCUSSION: The passage of Senate Bill 991 by the Seventy-fifth Legislature modified the Department’s State Parklands Passport program to include provisions for individuals with physical or mental impairments. Currently a state parklands passport is available to Texans who are 65 years of age and over, or who are disabled veterans. The Passport gives its holder a discount or waiver on the entrance fee to Texas state parks.

In addition to authorizing disabled individuals to apply for a State Parklands Passport, Senate Bill 991 required the Parks and Wildlife Commission to establish, by rule, eligibility requirements and privileges for this provision. The proposed rule contained in Exhibit A includes the eligibility requirements and process for the participation of disabled persons in the State Parklands Passport program. A Passport will be issued to holders of a current award letter from the Social Security Administration certifying physical or mental impairment. Disabled individuals who qualify for the Parklands Passport will be allowed to enter a Texas state park upon payment of 50% of the normal entrance fee for that site, rounded to the nearest higher dollar amount.

Staff was authorized at the August meeting of the Finance Committee to publish the proposed regulations in the Texas Register for public comment. The proposal appeared in the October 2, 1998, issue of the Texas Register (23 TexReg 9947). Staff will present a summary of public comment at the time of the hearing.

II. RECOMMENDATION: The staff recommends the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion:

"The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts the proposed amendment to 31 TAC §59.2, concerning parklands passports, with changes as necessary to the proposed text as published in the October 2, 1998, issue of the Texas Register (23 TexReg 9947)."

Attachments – 2

1. Exhibit A – Proposed Regulation
2. Exhibit B – Fiscal Note (Available Upon Request)


Commission Agenda Item No. 8
Exhibit A

Parklands Passport
Proposed Preamble

1. Introduction.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department proposes an amendment to §59.2, concerning Park Entrance and Use Fees. The amendment is necessary to implement the provisions of Senate Bill 991, enacted by the 75th Texas Legislature, which permitted individuals with physical or mental impairments substantially limiting one or more major life activities to apply for a state parklands passport, and authorized the Parks and Wildlife Commission to establish eligibility requirements and privileges for such persons. The amendment will function to establish criteria for eligibility and to establish a discounted entrance fee for persons holding a parklands passport under the eligibility provisions set forth in the proposed rule.

2. Fiscal Note.

Robert Macdonald, Wildlife Division regulations coordinator, has determined that for each of the first five years that the proposed amendment is in effect, there will be no fiscal implications to any unit of state government other than the Parks and Wildlife Department as a result of enforcing or administering the proposed amendment. The estimated fiscal impact to the Parks and Wildlife Department will be a maximum of $114,450 per fiscal year, although the actual cost might be substantially lower. The department bases the estimate on figures provided by the Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities indicating that approximately 10% of the general population is affected by a physical or mental impairment substantially limiting one or more life activities. The Department recorded approximately 6 million paid visits to state parks in fiscal year 1997 at an average of $4 per visit, and estimates that approximately 1% of visitation is by persons who would qualify for a parklands passport under the proposed rule. Thus, the 50% discount set forth in the proposed amendment would yield the maximum value stated previously. There will be no fiscal implications to units of local government as a result of enforcing or administering the proposed amendment.

3. Public Benefit - Cost Note.

Mr. Macdonald also has determined that for each of the first five years the proposed new section is in effect:

(A) The public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcing the rule as proposed will be the encouragement of citizens with disabilities to enjoy the state park system.

(B) There will be no effect on small businesses. There are no economic costs to persons required to comply with the rule as proposed.

(C) The department has not filed a local impact statement with the Texas Workforce Commission as required by Government Code, §2001.022, as this agency has determined that the rules as proposed will not impact local economies.

(D) The department has determined that there will not be a taking of private real property, as defined by Government Code, Chapter 2007, as a result of the proposed rules.

4. Request for Public Comments.

Comments on the proposed rules may be submitted to Ms. Sudie Poole, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744; (512) 389-4484 or 1-800-792-1112.

5. Statutory Authority.

The amendment is proposed under Parks and Wildlife Code, §13.018(e), which authorizes the Commission to establish eligibility requirements and privileges available to the holder of a state parklands passport.

The amendment affects Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 13.

§59.2. State Parklands Passport.

(a)-(k) (No change.)

(1) An individual with a documented physical or mental impairment may be issued a parklands passport under the provisions of this section.

(A) Eligibility requirements. To be eligible to receive a parklands passport under this section, an individual with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities must:

(i) have been medically determined to be permanently disabled as a result of such mental or physical impairment (including blindness) for purposes of receiving benefits under the Social Security Act; and

(ii) be currently receiving such benefits.

(B) Application procedure. An individual applying for a parklands passport under this subsection shall:

(i) apply in person at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Headquarters or at any park or other office designated by the department;

(ii) submit positive identification and either an Award of Benefits Letter, or a Statement of Benefits, from the Social Security Administration attesting to the applicant’s permanent disability;

(iii) submit an affidavit or attestation in a form approved by the Department certifying that the applicant meets the requirements of paragraph (1) of this subsection.

(C) Privileges. A parklands passport used for the purposes of this subsection shall discount entry fees to State Parks for the individual pass holder for a period of one year from the date of issuance. The discount will be 50% of the established park entry fee, rounded up to the nearest whole dollar amount. The pass shall be nontransferable, but shall also authorize discounted entry for one person accompanying the pass holder, if the pass holder needs assistance while visiting the State Park. For the purposes of this subsection, ‘accompanying’ means entering a park simultaneously with the pass holder.

(m) [(l)] A duplicate state parklands passport may be issued for use on additionally owned motor vehicles. A replacement for a state parklands passport may be issued when the original registration or windshield sticker is lost, stolen, damaged, or the motor vehicle is sold, traded, or stolen, or when the motor vehicle windshield is replaced.

(n) [(m)] Entrance fees established in subsections (b) and (d) of this section will apply to all private aircraft noncommercial motorized vehicles which includes two or more-wheeled vehicles. Commercial, quasi-public, or public buses or other vehicles are excluded.

(o) [(n)] Persons entering parks by bus, where entrance and use fees are charged on a per-car basis, will be charged as follows: adults, $1.00-$3.00 each, minimum $4.00-$20; children 12 years of age and under, $.50-$1.50 each, minimum $4.00-$20.

(p) [(o)] Students, teachers, bus drivers, and children on group, school-sponsored visits to historic sites or parks for educational purposes may enter at the rate of $.50-$1.00 per person at historic sites where a tour fee is charged or at a park where entrance and use fees are charged on a per-vehicle basis. The group or class must be accompanied by an adult supervisor(s). The $.50-$1.00 per person fee applies to individuals from all public or private schools, colleges, and universities offering accredited courses.

(q) [(p)] Students of any age are entitled to the student historic site tour fee. Students 19 and over are required to present a current, valid student identification card.

(r) [(q)] Persons entering parks on foot, bicycle, or by boat where entrance and use fees are charged on a per-car basis will be charged an individual rate of $1.00-$3.00 for adults and $.50-$1.50 for children 12 years of age and under.

(s) [(r)] The valid time period for daily entrance fees will be:

(1) for day use, the time period encompassing the day-use opening hours of the park on the date on which admission is paid; and

(2) for overnight use, a 24-hour period beginning at 2 p.m. on the date admission is paid.

(t) [(s)] At the discretion of the executive director, any person or persons may be exempted from the provisions of this section if the entry of such person or persons to a park or parks is necessary or desirable in order to provide a service for the state. The executive director is authorized to issue such entrance fee waivers under certain circumstances and conditions.

(u) [(t)] The executive director is authorized to establish an entrance fee in accordance with these sections at any site hereafter established as a state park when he deems such action is appropriate and in accord with applicable statutes.

(v) [(u)] When an annual or seasonal permit is offered for entrance in lieu of a daily fee, the executive director is authorized to establish a fee for a replacement and/or a duplicate permit.

(w) [(v)] Any fees established in this section may be waived or reduced at the discretion of the executive director for public use of a park during special events or exhibitions.

[(w)] The executive director may designate the amount of use fee and entrance fee within the total amount provided for by this section.

This agency hereby certifies that the proposal has been reviewed by legal counsel and found to be within the agency’s authority to adopt.

Issued in Austin, Texas on

Gene McCarty
Chief of Staff
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
1-800-792-1112, extension 4418 or 512-389-4418


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