Proposed Amendments to State Parklands Passport Rules

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PARK ENTRANCE AND PARK USER FEES

STATE PARKLANDS PASSPORT RULES

PROPOSAL PREAMBLE

1. Introduction

        The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department proposes an amendment to 31 TAC §59.3 and new §59.3, concerning Park Entry Passes. The proposed amendment would alter entry fees for persons accompanying the holder of a state parklands passport (“passport”) and restructure the section for purposes of clarity.

        Under Parks and Wildlife Code, §13.018, the department is required to issue a passport to qualified individuals, which are defined by statute as Texas residents 65 years old or over; members of the United States armed forces on active duty who are 65 years old or over; veterans of the armed services of the United States who, as a result of military service, have a service-connected disability consisting of either the loss of the use of a lower extremity or a 60 percent disability rating and who are receiving compensation from the United States because of the disability; and individuals who have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

        Under current rule, persons accompanying the holder of any category of passport are entitled to an entry fee reduction of 50 percent. The department has determined that waiving the entry fees for persons accompanying all categories of passport holders other than those who have obtained their passport after September 1, 1995 would greatly enhance the visitation experience for passport holders and encourage greater participation in beneficial parks experiences by persons who qualify for the passport but perhaps have not contemplated visitation. For ease of reference and the sake of clarity, the proposed amendment also would create separate provisions for categories of passport holders/accompanying persons entitled to free entry and passport holders/accompanying persons entitled to a 50 percent reduction in entry fees.

2. Fiscal Note.

        David Kurtenbach, Director of State Parks Business Management, has determined that for each of the first five years that the rule as proposed is in effect, there will be fiscal implications to the department as a result of administering the rule. The department estimates, based on historic data, that if adopted, the rule will result in a revenue decrease of approximately $102,000 per year to the department. There will be no fiscal implications to other units of state or local government.

        There will be no effect on persons required to comply with the rule as proposed, as the rule does not mandate compliance by any person.

3. Public Benefit/Cost Note.

        Mr. Kurtenbach also has determined that for each of the first five years that the rule as proposed is in effect:

                 (A) The public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcing or administering the proposed rule will be the increased and more inclusive opportunity for outdoor recreation by the public.

                 (B) Under provisions of Government Code, Chapter 2006, a state agency must prepare an economic impact statement and a regulatory flexibility analysis for a rule that may have an adverse economic effect on small businesses and micro-businesses. Those guidelines state that an agency need only consider a proposed rule’s "direct adverse economic impacts" to small businesses and micro-businesses to determine if any further analysis is required. For that purpose, the department considers "direct economic impact" to mean a requirement that would directly impose recordkeeping or reporting requirements; impose taxes or fees; result in lost sales or profits; adversely affect market competition; or require the purchase or modification of equipment or services. The department has determined that because the proposed rule affects only certain visitors to state parks, there will be no direct effect on small businesses, micro-businesses, or rural communities. On this basis, the department has a determined that neither the economic impact statement nor the regulatory flexibility analysis described in Government Code, Chapter 2006, is required.

                 (C) The department has not drafted a local employment impact statement under the Administrative Procedures Act, §2001.022, as the agency has determined that the rule as proposed will not impact local economies.

                 (D) The department has determined that Government Code, §2001.0225 (Regulatory Analysis of Major Environmental Rules), does not apply to the proposed rule.

                 (E) 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 rule.

                 (F) In compliance with the requirements of Government Code, §2001.0221, the department has prepared the following Government Growth Impact Statement (GGIS).  The rules as proposed, if adopted, will:

                         (1) neither create nor eliminate a government program;

                         (2) not result in an increase or decrease in the number of full-time equivalent employee needs;

                         (3) not result in a need for additional General Revenue funding;

                         (4) affect the amount of a fee (by modifying the current 50 percent fee reduction for certain categories of passport holders);

                         (5) not create a new regulation;

                         (6) not expand an existing regulation;

                         (7) neither increase nor decrease the number of individuals subject to regulation; and

                         (8) not positively or adversely affect the state’s economy.

4. Request for Public Comment.

        Comments on the proposed rule may be submitted to David Kurtenbach, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, Texas 78744; (512) 389-8560; email: david.kurtenbach@tpwd.texas.gov or via the department website at www.tpwd.texas.gov.

5. Statutory Authority.

        The amendment is proposed under Parks and Wildlife Code, §13.018, which requires the commission to establish by rule the eligibility requirements and privileges available to the holder of a state parklands passport.

        The proposed amendment affects Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 13.

6. Rule Text.

        §59.3. Park Entry Passes. Parks entry passes authorize entry privileges to parks where entry fees apply but are not valid for activity or other applicable fees.

                 (1) – (2) (No change.)

                 (3) State Parklands Passport. A state parklands passport shall be issued at no cost to any person meeting the criteria established by Parks and Wildlife Code, §13.018. For the purposes of this paragraph, "accompanying" means entering a park simultaneously with the passport holder.

                         (A) A state parklands passport issued to a person in a category listed in this subparagraph authorizes the entry of the person to any state park without payment of an individual entrance fee, and includes the waiver of the entry fee for one person accompanying and providing assistance to the passport holder:

                                  (i) a person whose birth date is before September 1, 1930;

                                  (ii) a veteran of the armed services of the United States who, as a result of military service, has a service-connected disability, as defined by the Veterans’ Administration, consisting of the loss of the use of a lower extremity or of a 60 percent disability rating and who is receiving compensation from the United States because of the disability; and

                                  (iii) a holder of a state parklands passport issued on or before August 31, 1995. [Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, a state parklands passport authorizes the entry of the person to whom it was issued to any state park without payment of an individual entrance fee, and includes a discounted individual entry fee of 50% for one person accompanying and providing assistance to the passport holder. For the purposes of this paragraph, "accompanying" means entering a park simultaneously with the passport holder.]

                         (B) (No change.)

                         (C) A state parklands passport issued to a person in a category listed in this subparagraph who does not otherwise qualify under subparagraph (A) of this paragraph authorizes the entry of the person to any state park upon payment of 50% of the posted entrance fee for the park, rounded to the nearest higher whole dollar, which shall also apply to one person accompanying and providing assistance to the passport holder.

                                  (i) a Texas resident whose birth date is after August 31, 1930;

                                  (ii) a member of the United States armed forces on active duty who is 65 years old or over; and

                                  (iii) an individual who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of the individual. [ state parklands passport holder whose date of birth is after August 31, 1930 , may enter any state park upon payment of 50% of the posted entrance fee for the park, rounded to the nearest higher whole dollar].

                         (D) – (E) (No change.)

        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

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