Sine Die: Maryland General Assembly Session Closes Today

04/10/2017
By Preservation Maryland

Today, April 10, 2017 is Sine Die in Annapolis, marking the end of Session of the Maryland General Assembly for the year. As the state’s preservation advocacy organization, Preservation Maryland staff and partners have been hard at work on your behalf and have positive news to report.

Effective advocacy allows us to protect thousands of buildings and acres across Maryland. New legislation and improvements to existing programs help support and protect all manner of historic preservation work, including archaeology, survey and research, museum programming, and bricks-and-mortar projects. With the help of our partners and legislators, we’ve had an extremely productive session:

Grant Funding

Maryland History Advocacy Day participants, 2017.

 

We are pleased to report that the Maryland Historical Trust Improvement Act, which we authored, has passed the Maryland General Assembly. The legislation calls on the Governor to provide at least $1.5 million annually to the State’s Historic Preservation Grant Fund. Once appropriated, it would be up to the Maryland Historical Trust to distribute between capital, non-capital, and museum assistance grants.

Although the legislation does note that this funding is subject to the “limitations of the state budget,” the new legislation clearly demonstrates that the legislature intends to see preservation grants funded and will give grassroots advocates the ability to request “full funding” at $1.5 million annually. The impact of this new legislation could be felt as soon as 2018 [FY19]. Thank you to Speaker Pro Tem Adrienne Jones and Senator Bill Ferguson for sponsoring this important legislation.

FY18 Budget

After nine years’ absence, the out-going grant programs of the Maryland Historical Trust have been funded for FY18 – capital grants were funded at $600,000, and $200,00 for non-capital survey and research grants. This comes as a result of a Joint Chairmen’s Report released in October 2016 by the Trust that identified the need and demand for preservation, survey, and museum funding across the state.

Local preservation funding

HB864, which would have created local preservation funds (via a statewide program) through a diversion of marriage ceremony fees was withdrawn. However, in the process of working the bill through the legislature with our sponsor, we learned that there would be legislative interest in creating the funds on a county-by-county basis, and we would be extremely supportive of any groups that attempt to do that.

Maryland Heritage AreAs

Sen. Brett Wilson with Heritage Area representatives, 2017.

The State Senate and House voted unanimously to raise the Maryland Heritage Areas Program funding cap from $3 million to $6 million. Heritage Areas are places to experience the authentic heritage of our state and help create more livable and economically sustainable communities where people want to live and visit. Additionally, through their grant programs, the program is also an important funding source for history and heritage sites. Thank you to Delegate Brett Wilson for being the lead sponsor of this legislation.

Other Legislation

Pleasant View Historic Site, one of the inaugural Six-to-Fix sites, received $200,000 through bond bills for the preservation of the Quince Orchard Colored School.  The funding comes partly as a result of the groundwork laid by Preservation Maryland, including an engineering study and project estimating effort that helped to support the bond bill request

Thanks to the work of Preservation Maryland, the State Boat Act- Removal of Abandoned or Sunken Vessels, which alters the definition of “abandoned vessel” to include a sunken vessel, was amended to exclude historic property or submerged archaeological historic property and to ensure that the Department of Natural Resources consults with the Director of the Maryland Historical Trust when dealing with sunken historic vessels. The new language protects the state’s rich maritime history sunken below Maryland’s waters.

THANK YOU

We want to offer our sincerest thanks to all of our friends and colleagues who have worked with us to achieve these major steps forward for preservation in Maryland. Although session may be over until next January, we will continue our mission to work for more funding, protections, and incentives for the history and preservation community throughout the state.

MAKE A DONATION TO THE ADVOCACY FUND THAT MADE THIS POSSIBLE

Preservation Maryland

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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