The eaves of the roof on Simpson's Grove. The building was cosntructed circa 1800.

Legislative Update: The Big Issues for Preservation

02/12/2016
By Preservation Maryland

The pace of activity in Annapolis has picked up over the past few weeks with a flurry of new bills introduced each day and many hearings and briefings taking place on a variety of important issues. Preservation Maryland has been on the ground almost every day for the past 3 weeks – engaging in the discussion and making certain historic preservation has a voice at the table.

THE BIG ISSUES FOR PRESERVATION INCLUDE:

1. Operating Budget for important preservation grant programs: Critical programs like Survey & Research grants and Museum grants, remain left out of the Governor’s FY17 budget. Preservation Maryland is working with both the administration and several members of the General Assembly to address this issue and restore this funding.

2. Re-authorization  and Funding for the Historic Rehab Tax Credit, officially the Sustainable Communities tax credit: With Preservation Maryland’s support and encouragement, a Senate and House re-authorization bill has been introduced which would extend the life of this important program until 2022. While re-authorization is moving in a positive direction, funding for the program is a separate process – and still leaves the program funded at just $9 million a year. This is an unsustainably low funding level, which we are working everyday to address and highlight as an issue to the Administration and Legislature.

3. Local Bond Bill Funding: Preservation Maryland has been closely following this issue since so much of the capital work at the State’s historic sites are funded through local bond bills. In recent years the amount has been set at $15 million, divided statewide between the Senate and the House. Unfortunately Governor Hogan’s 2017 capital budget did NOT include a set-aside of bond funds for these initiatives. How or if these bills will be funded is unknown, but with few alternatives for preservation projects, Preservation Maryland remains supportive of this process and encourages the Hogan Administration to support funding for these projects.



New Legislation we’re Tracking

SENATE BILL 759/HB939
SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES TAX CREDIT – ALTERATION AND EXTENSION

“Altering the definition of “qualified rehabilitation expenditure”, for purposes of the sustainable communities tax credit, to exclude any amounts funded by federal grants; repealing the requirement that the competitive award process for the award of initial credit certificates favor underrepresented jurisdictions; extending the termination of the sustainable communities tax credit from July 1, 2017, to July 1, 2022; etc.”

PRESERVATION MARYLAND POSITION

SUPPORT

We emphatically support the reauthorization of this critical preservation program. The state’s historic tax credit has invested more funding in historic preservation than any other program and has had an economic impact of over $3 billion. We, would however like to see the name revert to the Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program, to assist with marketing and branding of the program, and would request that federal grants be considered eligible for formula funding, which is not permitted in this bill.


 

SENATE BILL 927
PROGRAM OPEN SPACE TRUST FUND ACT OF 2016

“Establishing the Program Open Space Trust Fund; requiring specified appropriations from the General Fund to the Fund to repay specified appropriations or transfers from the Fund to the General Fund; providing that the Fund is a continuing, nonlapsing fund not subject to specified provisions of law; providing for the uses, purposes, sources of funding, and investment of money of the Fund; requiring interest earnings of the Fund to be credited to the Fund; etc.”

PRESERVATION MARYLAND POSITION

SUPPORT

Program Open Space, which dedicates a portion of transfer tax revenue to the protection of farms, parks, forests and historic sites is constantly threatened by diversions of funding. This bill would make those diversions public and require a vote. We support transparency and the effort to protect this critical preservation funding.


 

SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION 7
EXTENDING THE LEWIS AND CLARK NATIONAL HISTORIC TRAIL

“Urging the National Park Service in the U.S. Department of the Interior to expeditiously complete and provide to Congress the Eastern Legacy Special Resource Study and include within the Study a recommendation that the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail be extended to the East; etc.”

PRESERVATION MARYLAND POSITION

SUPPORT


 

HOUSE BILL 913 (SB366)
LAND USE – DEPARTMENT OF PLANNING – PERMIT FOR DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

“Requiring a person that undertakes a development project that involves the construction of a total of 50 or more surface parking spaces, will result in a total of 50 or more surface parking spaces when combined with existing surface parking spaces, and is located within one-half mile of a scenic byway to apply to the Department of Planning for a permit; requiring the Department to provide an opportunity for public comment on the permit application; etc.”

PRESERVATION MARYLAND POSITION

SUPPORT

We support efforts to engage the community about new development in proximity to historic resources, like Scenic Byways, and agree that this legislation is important and worthwhile.


 

SENATE BILL 688
TASK FORCE TO DEVELOP A STRATEGIC PLAN FOR STATE PARK DEVELOPMENT

“Establishing the Task Force to Develop a Strategic Plan for State Park Development; providing the purpose of the Task Force is to develop strategic principles and a policy framework for mid- to long-term decisions on the allocation of the funding provided to the State parks; requiring, to the extent practicable, that the composition of the Task Force reflect the gender, racial, ethnic, and geographic diversity of the State; requiring the Task Force to report its findings and recommendations by December 31, 2017; etc.”

PRESERVATION MARYLAND POSITION

SUPPORT

There is a crisis in our state parks – a crisis that threatens historic resources. We support the effort to develop a plan for the creation of new parks – and how to fund parks.


 

SENATE BILL 955 (HB961)
FEDERAL-AID PRIMARY HIGHWAYS – SIGNS

“Authorizing the State Highway Administration to issue a permit for a sign along or near a federal-aid primary highway if the sign is a directional sign for a historic, cultural, or educational site that is naturally suited for outdoor recreation.”

PRESERVATION MARYLAND POSITION

SUPPORT

While it may seem a simple task to place directional signage for historic sites, it can unfortunately be an all too complex task, and sometimes impossible. We support the effort to make it simpler for historic sites to direct visitors to their resources.



Bond Bills Preservation Maryland Strongly Supports


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Preservation Maryland is Maryland’s first and largest organization dedicated to preserving the state’s historic buildings, neighborhoods, landscapes, and archaeological sites.

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