State Politics

Manatee Commissioner Gallen seeks support for playground bills

MANATEE -- A county commissioner hopes his colleagues today will vote to support legislative bills that would help to promote public access to outdoor facilities on school property.

Manatee County Commissioner Michael Gallen said Monday he plans to ask the commission to add Senate Bill 808, and its companion measure, House Bill 431, to the county’s legislative agenda.

“As you know, I have been an advocate of opening school athletic facilities to keep juveniles busy and active after school as part of juvenile crime prevention,” Gallen wrote in an e-mail message.

“Although the sponsors are proposing the legislation for its health benefits, I believe it will have double benefits for the youth in our community.”

A recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests that “you don’t have to rebuild a community to give people more room to get active. Minor policy changes can open large untapped resources -- public schools,” Gallen said.

State Rep. Ray Pilon, R-Sarasota, is one of several co-sponsors of the bill, which Gallen said enjoys “bipartisan support.”

Monday, the bill was added to the Florida House’s K-20 Competitiveness Subcommittee agenda, according to the House website.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031.