Taking our preservation priorities to the State House.

Sustained Advocacy for State Preservation in 2015

04/14/2015
By Nicholas A. Redding

Preservation Maryland was busy in Annapolis during the 2015 session of the Maryland General Assembly working to generate support for the programs, funding, and policies that make preservation possible – all under our campaign, “I’m With Barbara.” 

Barbara Fritchie, a Frederick woman of considerable age, has gone down in history as antagonizing Stonewall Jackson’s army by waving the flag of the Union from her upstairs window, and declaring, “shoot if you must, this old gray head, but spare our country’s flag.” In 2015, following suit, we stood up to preserve history.

Preservation Maryland is preservation’s greatest advocate. We continue our advocacy efforts each year and all year round, and invite you to learn more about our current efforts on our updated advocacy page.

OUR 2015 ADVOCACY EFFORT

We held over 50 one-on-one meetings with the leaders of both chambers, key state legislators and the members of the committees which oversee critical preservation programs. We lived, breathed and ate Annapolis – but we never felt outnumbered, knowing our supporters had our back!

This sustained advocacy, made possible by the hard work of our partner organizations and dedicated supporters, resulted in an initial rejection of $300,000 in proposed cuts to Maryland’s Heritage Areas. This cut would have been equal to 10% of the entire Heritage Area Authority budget. An additional proposed $200,000+ cut in the Budget Reconciliation Act was also rejected due to this outreach effort.

The 13 State Heritage Areas, which cover a portion of every county and Baltimore city, have been a powerful force in supporting heritage tourism and improving important historic sites across the state.

The funding for the Heritage Area program comes from Program Open Space – which is generated by a small .5% tax on land transfers in the state. Those funds then go to support land and historic preservation.

There is a great deal of work left to accomplish as Program Open Space is constantly threatened. To help defend the program, we’ve joined the Executive Committee of the Partners for Open Spaces, the principal open space advocacy group in the state, to make certain historic preservation remains a priority issue. We’re keeping preservation a part of the discussion.

In addition to defending the Heritage Areas, Preservation Maryland also worked diligently to see the African American Preservation Grant Program reauthorized at $1 million permanently. The legislation passed both chambers and was promptly signed by Governor Hogan. 

Unfortunately, the Sustainable Communities Tax Credit, the official name of our state historic tax credit, remains in the budget at a reduced $9 million from last year’s appropriation of $10 million. Since the creation of the program in 1996, funding for this critical tax credit has plummeted 90% – well below funding available for similar programs in neighboring states.

In response, Preservation Maryland launched a new Maryland Historic Tax Credit Coalition, a diverse collection of businesses and organizations united for the future of the program. The Coalition is advocating for increased funding of this critical preservation program and plans to present the new administration with a letter requesting support for this job creating tax credit. Studies have consistently shown for every $1 invested by the state in this program — $8.53 in economic activity is created in the local economy.

Through testimony and countless meetings in Annapolis, Preservation Maryland also assisted in defeating potentially damaging staffing reductions at the Maryland Historical Trust. These proposed reductions would have cut key positions in the Trust that directly impact core operations and architectural survey work. The rejection of the staffing eliminations is a victory for preservationists statewide.

Moving forward, our job is not only to defend what’s available – but to find new ways of delivering additional support to the preservation community.

Nicholas A. Redding · Executive Director

Nicholas A. Redding is Preservation Maryland’s Executive Director and between announcing major organizational updates, he often blogs about Maryland and Civil War history.

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