Annapolis, MD. Photo by Andrew Mihailoff.

Priority Preservation Issues for this Maryland Legislative Session

01/09/2019
By Elly Colmers Cowan

Today marks the start of the 439th Session of the Maryland General Assembly, and Preservation Maryland is poised to continue to be the voice of historic preservation in Annapolis. We have a full slate of priorities in support of historic tax credits, community revitalization, preservation funding, and smart growth.

2019 Priority Preservation issues

Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit

The revitalization of Maryland communities is fueled by the Heritage Structure Rehabilitation Tax Credit program. Senator Bill Ferguson and Delegate Brooke Lierman of Baltimore’s District 46 plans to introduce legislation that will strengthen this effective community redevelopment tool.

Historic Tax Credits Work for Maryland

As of FY19, Maryland invested only $9M in the Heritage Structure Rehabilitation Tax Credit program for the year for the entire state. By comparison, Virginia invests nearly $100M annually, and West Virginia invests $30M. Maryland is falling behind. This legislation will require the Governor to appropriate at least $20M annually for this essential program and will extend the authorization of the program through 2024.

Community Redevelopment and Historic Preservation

We recognize the positive impact that historic preservation projects can have for the surrounding community. This new legislation will help incentivize the use of historic buildings to create affordable housing. The forthcoming bill would:

  1. Better convey the catalytic nature of historic tax credit projects by changing the name of the program to the Historic Revitalization Tax Credit,
  2. Allow the state Historic Tax Credit to be used more easily for contiguous row house projects,
  3. Allow the state Historic Tax Credit to be transferred outside of development partnerships. This would go a long way to offset the damaging impact the change to the federal Historic Tax Credit, that came out of recent tax reform, will have on community redevelopment, and
  4. Create two pilot resource specific pilot programs for agricultural structures in rural communities and mid-century modern resources in suburban Maryland.

Get Involved: Preservation Maryland invites you to get involved in statewide preservation advocacy efforts by attending Maryland History Advocacy Day on Thursday, January 31, 2019 in Annapolis. We do our best to make it easy  and there is no doubt that your advocacy is essential.

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Preservation Grant Funding

Maryland’s preservation grant programs had gone completely unfunded since FY10. Because of our advocacy, in FY18, funding was restored to the Capital and Non-Capital grant programs. Current funding is at starvation level. We must and will do more to support those safe-guarding our state’s rich and unique history.

Current Grant Program Funding: $800k
Total FY20 Request: $1M

  1. Capital Grant Program
    Current Funding: $600k
    FY20 Capital Request: $600k
    This program funds capital upgrades and repairs to certified historic structures owned by non-profits and local governments. It is operated as a competitively-awarded program with statewide reach and impact.
  2. Non-Capital Grants (Planning & Research)
    Current Funding: $300k
    FY20 Operating Request: $400k
    This program was previously funded via the state operating budget. This program awarded competitive grants for architectural and archaeological research, survey and documentation, public education, and planning projects. The program directly supported local government efforts to preserve places important to their constituents.

Smart Growth Investment Fund

The Smart Growth Investment Fund was established to help provide loan guarantees for smart growth infill projects. The Fund will help incentivize growth and revitalization in existing communities, protecting critical natural, cultural, and historic resources from development and sprawl. Legislation this Session (SB3) will appropriate $7M for the Fund.

Program Open Space

In 1969, the Maryland General Assembly created Program Open Space through the institution of a transfer tax of .5% on every real estate transaction in the state. Since then the program has been responsible for:

The Maryland Heritage Areas Authority is funded by Program Open Space. Preservation Maryland supports full funding of Program Open Space and the Heritage Area Authority, opposes any attempts to shortcut, reduce, or cap the program in any way, and supports the repayment of previous diversions from the fund.

Preservation policy issues

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Elly Colmers Cowan · Director of Advocacy

Elly Cowan is here to get you involved in historic preservation and community development by becoming an advocate with us or learning something new at one of our events.

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