Maryland's historic statehouse, ca. 1772.

Advocacy Update: Mid-Session Preservation Report

By Preservation Maryland

As the Maryland General Assembly approaches the mid-point of its 90-day legislative session, Preservation Maryland is busy making preservation a priority and has much to report.

Preservation Maryland, a trusted voice for preservation in the halls of Annapolis, has been working on the following pieces of key preservation legislation:

Preservation Maryland CEO Nicholas Redding testifying alongside Sen. Elfreth and representatives of MHT/MDP.

SUPPORT: SB0425 (HB0674) Maryland Historic Trust – Historic Preservation Partnership Program and Fund – Established

What This Bill Does: Provides the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) with the authority to make an expenditure from the existing fund to establish a Preservation Partnership Fund at a qualified nonprofit preservation organization. The new Fund will be designed to revolve and exist in perpetuity. The legislation requires annual reporting, transparency requirements and audit standards.

The non-profit selected will be able to utilize the funds to rehabilitate, restore and reinvest in historic places through loans, direct acquisition, option agreements and grants to accelerate the preservation of important historic places.

Current Status of the Legislation: Earlier this week, SB425 was introduced into the Budget & Taxation Committee of the Maryland Senate by Senate Sponsor Sen. Sarah Elfreth and received the support of the Maryland Department of Planning/MHT as well as the Maryland Association of Counties. Preservation Maryland CEO Nicholas Redding also joined the panel to provide favorable testimony on the legislation.

Since it’s initial introduction the staff of Preservation Maryland has worked closely with the MHT to amended the bill to make the process of establishing the new fund simpler and provides for a way for MHT to continue to service old loans.

Next Steps: After the introduction of the streamlined, amended version of the bill, the legislation heads to a hearing in the Maryland House of Delegates before the Appropriations Committee where House Sponsor Del. Courtney Watson will present the legislation. Following that hearing, the bill will need to receive a favorable report in both committees before it moves on to consideration by the full chambers.

What You Can Do: Email your Maryland State Senator or Delegate and simply request that they vote yes on SB425/HB674.

Traditional Trades Apprenticeship Students Learning Masonry. Image from the National Preservation Training Center

Traditional Trades Apprenticeship Students Learning Masonry. Image from the National Preservation Training Center

SUPPORT: SB0551 (HB0546) Education – Service Year Option Program – Establishment (Serving Every Region Through Vocational Exploration Act of 2023)

What this Bill Does:This signature piece of legislation from Gov. Moore would establish a pilot program for creating a paid service year for every high school graduate in Maryland.

Why We Support This:Through our Campaign for Historic Trades, Preservation Maryland is dedicated to the use of historic preservation as a way of creating service learning opportunities and career advancement. We hope to play a role in providing opportunities for young adults to serve by restoring state-owned historic resources once this program is established.

SUPPORT: HB0852 (SB0903) Land Use – Expedited Development Review Processes for Affordable Housing – Application to Religious Organizations

What This Bill Does: Provides local governments with the ability to adopt streamlined development review for religious congregations pursuing affordable housing on adjoining land (often parking lots, etc.) beside an active congregation.

Why We Support This: Providing sustainable revenue streams for historic congregations is critical to the future of preserving these sacred places. This legislation does that while also addressing the state’s dire need for affordable housing — a priority to the preservation and smart growth community which sees infill and use of underutilized urban spaces (parking lots, etc.) as a way to holistically address the issue.

Civil War Trails signs at Rocky Springs Chapel, Thurmont, MD. Photo by Civil War Trails.

Civil War Trails signs at Rocky Springs Chapel, Thurmont, MD. Photo by Civil War Trails.

SUPPORT WITH AMENDMENTS: HB1038 (SB0734) Transportation – Highways – Tourist Area and Corridor Signage Program

What This Bill Does: This legislation would reestablish and refund ($350,000 annually) the Maryland Department of Transportation “Tourist Area and Corridor Signage Program” (TAC).

Why We Support This: It is critical that the heritage tourism community have a stable source of funds for signage development, especially to mark sites of underrepresented history or to guide travelers across difficult terrain or landscapes.

Our Suggested Amendments:This is a fantastic piece of legislation — but $350,000 is simply not enough for tourism signage across the entire state. We recommend an annual appropriation of $1M annually, derived from the transportation trust fund.

SUPPORT WITH AMENDMENTS: SB0382 (HB0239) Accessory Dwelling Unit Promotion and Policy Task Force

What this Bill Does: This legislation would create a Task force to study and make recommendations to expand Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) in Maryland. The American Planning Association defines ADUs as,  “a smaller, independent residential dwelling unit located on the same lot as a stand-alone (i.e., detached) single-family home.”

Why We Support This Bill: ADUs are a simple way of creating more housing opportunities, especially in dense, built-out communities, like historic districts. We believe ADUs hold promise for our historic communities to play a part in addressing the state’s housing needs.

Our Suggested Amendments: We would like to see a representative of the historic preservation community on the task force to make sure that preservation issues and opportunities are addressed at the outset and best practices can be established to streamline ADU adoption in historic communities.

Flood waters on Main Street in Ellicott City, 1972

Flood waters on Main Street in Ellicott City, 1972. Photo from the Howard County Historical Society.

SUPPORT: SB0650 (HB0789) Public Safety – State Disaster Recovery Fund

What This Bill Does: This legislation creates a dependable source of funds to support communities across the state with grants, loans and other financial support in the event of a major disaster.

Why We Support This Bill: Based on our experience following the harrowing floods in Ellicott City (2016, 2018), we believe this legislation is critical to make sure the state is in a position to quickly respond to the financial needs of communities following disasters. Given that so many historic communities are threatened by a changing climate, the fund is a priority for historic places across our state.

A building on the campus of Glenn Dale Hospital. The Glenn Dale Tuberculosis Hospital and Sanitarium was founded in 1934, but closed in 1981. It was selected as a Preservation Maryland Six-to-Fix site in 2015.

A building on the campus of Glenn Dale Hospital. The Glenn Dale Tuberculosis Hospital and Sanitarium was founded in 1934, but closed in 1981. It was selected as a Preservation Maryland Six-to-Fix site in 2015.

SUPPORT WITH AMENDMENTS: SB0783 Historic Properties Disposition and Preservation Team and Extension of the Income Tax Credit for Catalytic Revitalization Projects

What This Bill Does: This legislation reauthorizes a catalytic tax credit for the rehabilitation of former historic government complexes and creates a team within state government to holistically approach the disposition of state owned resources, buildings and structures.

Why We Support This Bill: Preservation Maryland worked closely with bill sponsor Sen. Katie Fry Hester during her first term to establish a study group to research this issue and come up with recommendations for addressing the challenge of how best to dispose, reuse and incentivize the rehab of former government owned historic complexes. This legislation makes progress on implementing the findings of that report.

Our Suggested Amendments: Preservation Maryland would like to see a representative of the non-profit historic preservation community represented on the disposition team and task force. Additionally, we also would like to see the team required to consider implementing recommendation 1.8 from the initial report, which encouraged the creation of a historic trades’ training program to stabilize complexes prior to disposition.

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