Advocacy

Preservation Maryland works at the federal, state, and local level to influence the policies, programs, and funding mechanisms that make preservation and smart growth possible. Advocacy remains one of the primary activities of the organization because of the dramatic scale of its impact.

Current 2022 Priorities

Rather than just saving one museum, one building, or one acre of open space, aggressive advocacy gives us an opportunity to save thousands of museums, buildings, and acres of open space.

The revitalization of Maryland communities is fueled by the Historic Revitalization Tax Credit program. With the state budget in surplus going into session, now is the time to significantly fund this ready-made community investment tool. This session, Senator Cory McCray and Delegate Eric Luedtke have introduced legislation that will annually fund the Small Commercial program and increase funding for the Competitive Commercial program of this effective community redevelopment tool. Additionally, Delegate Al Carr has introduced legislation to make the Homeowner program more equitable and valuable.

COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT AND HISTORIC PRESERVATION

Historic Revitalization Tax Credit – Funding and Extension (SB289/HB27)

We recognize the positive impact that historic preservation projects can have for the surrounding community. Unfortunately, one of the key programs that encourages such projects has been depleted of funding. The Small Commercial Historic Tax Credit program provides essential assistance to small business and developers who are looking to rehabilitate small, Main-Street type historic structures. During the 2021 legislative session, Preservation Maryland, along with our supporters, successfully advocated to extend the life of this essential community investment program with $1 million in additional funding.

Unfortunately, because the program has been so successful, it has once again completely run out of funding. It has been the backbone for many Main Street projects across the state and now has the potential to be used to transform vacant houses into vibrant historic homes for many for whom home ownership had long been out of reach. But, without more funding to the program, these shovel-ready projects will not be able to move forward.

Recognizing the real need for this program, the forthcoming legislation will create the Small Commercial Project Trust Account and annually fund it at $4 million.

Unlike the Small Commercial program, the Competitive Commercial Historic Revitalization Tax Credit program must receive funding in the state budget every year. As of FY22, Maryland has invested only $9M for the year for the entire state. By comparison, Virginia invests nearly $100M annually, and West Virginia invests $30M. Maryland has fallen behind.

Since its creation in 1996, this 20% tax credit program for the rehabilitation of historic structures has invested over $400 million in brick-and-mortar commercial redevelopment projects across nearly every jurisdiction in the state, created nearly 30,000 jobs, and yielded nearly $3.5 billion in economic activity.

As the state is faced with deciding where to spend the budget surplus, it’s worth noting that, according to a recent report from the Abell Foundation, the state Historic Revitalization Tax Credit generates positive revenue for the state and increases local property tax revenues. When buildings are rehabilitated, they pay more in local taxes which support better schools, roads, and healthcare without the need for more state dollars. Funding this program is an investment not a giveaway.

Last year, with the help of our supporters, we were able to work with legislators to secure at least $12 million in funding for this program in FY23 and FY24.

Knowing the potential benefits the state would see with a well funded historic tax credit, the forthcoming legislation will also mandate funding of at least $24 million for FY25 and FY26 and at least $36 million for FY27 through FY31.

Preservation Maryland and our supporters have worked diligently to make policy changes to strengthen this essential revitalization tool. Without more funding for the program, those positive changes have little opportunity to make the intended impact for communities across Maryland. We stand ready to continue the fight for increased funding this year.

Making preservation more equitable

Historic Revitalization Tax Credit – Substantial Rehabilitation – Threshold Amount (HB202)
Historic Revitalization Tax Credit – Alterations – Qualified Rehabilitation Expenditures for Single-Family, Owner-Occupied Residences (HB539)

Two pieces of legislation this year will focus on making the residential historic tax credit program accessible for more income levels. The first of the bills, sponsored by Delegate Al Carr, would increase the value of the credit for homeowners looking to invest in their historic homes by restoring the 25% credit amount for the residential program. The second would lower the threshold of qualifying residential historic tax credit projects to $2,500 for those who have received the Homeowner’s Tax Credit in the last three years. 

Preservation Legislation

Maryland Great Outdoors act (SB541/HB727)

In late 2021, the Maryland General Assembly convened the State Park Investment Commission to explore the challenges associated with the operation, maintenance, staffing and access to Maryland’s State Park system – and to identify next steps for improving the parks. This bill is the result of the hard work of that Commission and represents the greatest investment in our state parks in a generation.

This sweeping legislation creates and funds a pathway for a State Park system that addresses needs for acquisition, accessibility, and equity. It seeks to invest in the parks Maryland already has while looking to expand the portfolio to ensure all Marylanders have public access to open space. Preservation Maryland is supportive of the many laudable goals that would be achieved through the Maryland Great Outdoors Act, especially the investment in the preservation and maintenance of the vast number of historic and cultural resources in Maryland parks and the expansion to include the diverse histories of underrepresented communities.

Maryland Corps Program – Revisions (SB228/HB443)

This legislation focuses on bringing service opportunities across Maryland into the 21st century. Among many other worthy goals, it would create a Maryland Historic Trades Corps to place young adults and veterans in regionally based work crews across Maryland to rehabilitate the state’s historic resources.

One of the benefits of that is a large stock of historic structures and buildings in every corner of our state. Indeed, Maryland has tens of thousands of structures which contribute to historic districts listed on National Register of Historic Places, and every day, more buildings in Maryland become eligible for the Register as they age and become part of our collective history.  Buildings on the National Register of Historic Places require work done to the Secretary of Interior Standards for Historic Preservation.  Therefore, specialized training is needed to ensure work complies with these standards.

Unfortunately, there is currently a documented and severe shortage of trained preservation tradespeople. SB228 would help address this crisis by investing in workforce training in the traditional trades through a Maryland Historic Trades Corps program. Participants would gain valuable experience on historic preservation projects in the state of Maryland, and at the conclusion of their experience would be abundantly qualified to enter the private sector, begin a job with the State of Maryland, or join one of Maryland’s many trade unions to pursue a career in a variety of fields, including finish carpentry, frame carpentry, roofing, masonry and painting

Smart Growth Legislation

Maryland the beautiful act (SB791/HB1031)

This bill establishes a goal to protect 30% of Maryland open space by 2030 and 40% by 2040, works to make greenspace more equitable, and empowers land and forest  conservation efforts.

Comprehensive cLIMATE solutions (HB708)
Climate Solutions Now Act of 2022 (SB0528)

The bill changes Maryland’s greenhouse gas reduction requirements to 60% below 2006 levels by 2032 and net-zero by 2045. The bill also calls on the Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities to determine the percentage of state funds spent on climate change that must go to overburdened communities. It also creates a work group to protect impacted workers, as well as a Climate Justice Corps.

MARYLAND SUSTAINABLE BUILDINGS ACT OF 2022 (HB43)

The increase of glass in new building construction in Maryland, and worldwide, threatens to undo energy conservation efforts, costs the state money, and contributes to climate change, while also causing the deaths of an estimated 1 billion birds annually in the United States, who fly into buildings, bridges, and other manmade structures.

This bill would require the Maryland Department of General Services to establish standards for state buildings and those buildings with 51% or more state funding to reduce the amount of energy-inefficient and bird-dangerous glass. Glass greater than 10% of the first 40 feet of building facades and 40% above 40 feet would need to be shaded, screened, or patterned with visible or UV films, frits, or etching. Such standards would reduce energy costs and reduce bird fatalities by more than 90%. Lighting during non-operational night times would also be limited to save energy and reduce bird attraction.

COnstitutional Amendment – Environmental rights (HB596/SB783)

An amendment to the Maryland Constitution that would establish that every person has an inalienable right to a healthful environment, including the right to clean air, water, and land, a stable climate, and the preservation, protection, and enhancement of ecological, scenic, and historic values of the environment. It establishes the State as the trustee of the natural and historic resources of the State. The implications of this amendment, if passed, is that citizens would have the right to intervene in an action brought by the State or a political subdivision to protect those natural and historic resources.

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:

  • 319,000 acres of open space for state parts and natural resource areas,
  • Creation and funding of the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority and heritage area grants,
  • More than 6,100 individual county and municipal parks and conservation areas,
  • 31,000 acres of local park land,
  • 31 Rural Legacy Areas, preserving 77,000 acres,
  • 286,000 acres of farmland under Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation easement.

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 we support the repayment of previous diversions from the fund.

Budget Priorities

Budget Bill – Fiscal Year 2023 (HB300/SB290)

The state of Maryland is in a better financial position going into the 2022 session than it has been in years. While this is certainly good news, there will be stiff competition as many different interests vie for the funding in the FY23 Budget. Every year the Governor presents a Capital and Operating Budget that the General Assembly must then work with and pass by the end of session in April. There is no better time than now to adequately fund preservation programs, so making a strong case for this essential funding for preservation grant programs will continue to be a priority for Preservation Maryland over the coming session. Once the Governor releases his Budget at the end of January, we will have a better sense of where these programs stand – and what we will need to advocate for.

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Advocacy Updates

Today we are revisiting Maryland Comptroller-elect Lierman’s words from a 2020 guest blog as she makes a powerful case for the important role historic preservation can play in helping Maryland grow smarter.

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Tagged In: Advocacy,

Program Fills Financing Gaps for Redevelopment of Properties Formerly Owned by State or Federal Government

The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development announced the second application round of the Catalytic Revitalization Tax Credit program, designed to rehabilitate properties formerly owned by the government for economic and community development purposes. Eligible applicants can apply for the up to $15 million tax credit starting on Monday, October 17.

In 2019 Preservation Maryland’s advocacy team, elected officials, and other stakeholders sought an answer to what to do with large vacant historic complexes in Maryland. A committee was formed and the project team chose three undeveloped historic complexes as case studies. The study included barriers to advance large complex preservation projects and recommendations to begin to overcome them. The Catalytic Revitalization Tax Credit program was created as a direct result of the study’s findings.

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09/19/2022
By Preservation Maryland

Preservation Maryland Releases Opportunity Report

REVITALIZE. RECRUIT. ADVOCATE.

Preservation Maryland works to protect Maryland’s unique and irreplaceable heritage while creating a more equitable and sustainable future. We remain at the forefront of the reservation movement, creatively working to preserve place, grow the historic preservation workforce, and effect policy change so our shared history can be enjoyed for untold generations to come. Our newly released Opportunity Report profiles current work and what’s ahead for Preservation Maryland.

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A major 2022 Legislative Session win, the passage of the Great Maryland Great Outdoors Act creates and funds a pathway for a state park system that addresses needs for acquisition, accessibility, and equity. Preservation Maryland’s President & CEO Nicholas Redding attended a senate press conference Thursday, September 1, 2022 at Annapolis’ Carrs Beach as funding was just announced for development and preservation of the historically significant site.

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Tagged In: Advocacy,

05/17/2022
By Preservation Maryland

Governor Hogan Signs Historic Tax Credit Bill Into Law

Preservation Maryland’s Director of Government Relations Elly Cowan joined Senator Katie Fry Hester and Isaac Meyer from Compass Government Relations Partners in Annapolis May 16, 2022 as the Historic Revitalization Tax Credit – Funding and Extension (SB289/HB27) was signed into law by Governor Hogan, Senate President Ferguson, and Speaker of the House Adrienne Jones.

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Tagged In: Advocacy, Smart Growth,

05/12/2022
By Smart Growth Maryland

Smart Growth Candidate Forums

Much of Smart Growth Maryland’s work involves advocacy at the local level. In Maryland, where and how a jurisdiction grows – and does not grow – is decided locally through a comprehensive planning process. Public involvement is a critical part of that process, with plans reflecting the vision and goals for the community’s future expressed by residents. Local elected officials adopt these plans and implement them through a variety of means including zoning, so local elections can play a large role in the future of smart growth issues in a county.

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04/11/2022
By Elly Colmers Cowan

Sine Die 2022: State Legislative Advocacy Report

The 2022 Legislative Session of the Maryland General Assembly will come to a close on Monday, April 11, 2022. After 90 days of championing key bills and testifying on many other pieces of important legislation, it is safe to say that Preservation Maryland had one of its busiest legislative sessions in the organization’s history. With Session adjourned until January 2023, we are proud to report that we were able to make significant policy advances for preservation and smart growth in Maryland, while also securing an unprecedented amount of funding for preservation across the state.

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Tagged In: Advocacy, Heritage Fund,
WB Tower in Brunswick, Maryland, just after construction, ca. 1910.

04/08/2022
By Preservation Maryland

Historic WB Tower Successfully Moved in Brunswick

City residents, preservation proponents and rail enthusiasts alike gathered in Brunswick on April 2, 2022 to watch the culmination of ten years of advocacy, determination, and planning. On that very crisp and sunny morning, the historic West Brunswick Tower—an early-20th century two-story frame structure from which Baltimore & Ohio Railroad workers ensured the safe movement of trains—was moved by Wolfe House & Building Movers about 100 feet up the rail yard banks to a new location out of harm’s way.

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03/31/2022
By Elly Colmers Cowan

Session Update: Key Preservation Bills Crossover

We are closing in on the last few weeks of an extremely busy 90-day legislative session, and Preservation Maryland is staying engaged in Annapolis, with the organization championing several key bills and testifying on many other important pieces of legislation.

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While Marylanders are well known for their pride in their state flag, they are also known for their love of crabs — and the Old Bay that they sprinkle on them. Crabs are a staple in Maryland. Boiled, steamed, broiled, sautéed. Crab soup, crab cakes, crab dip. There are many ways to cook crabs and incorporate their meat into dishes. The possibilities for enjoying them are endless. Why are Marylanders so obsessed with crabs? What is the history of crabbing in Maryland? Well, people in Maryland have been crabbing for centuries.

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Advocacy Issues

Maryland Historic Revitalization Tax Credit

In Maryland, tax credits for rehab projects have revitalized communities statewide, saved thousands of historic buildings,  and created billions in state revenue.

Smart Growth

Smart Growth Maryland is a campaign of Preservation Maryland which advocates for a more environmentally and economically sustainable future that creates opportunities for all Marylanders through better development patterns.

Program Open Space

Thanks to this program, nearly all Marylanders are just 15 minutes away from a state, local park or public open space.

Maryland Heritage Areas

Promoting and enhancing the history of Maryland is a big job – and one that fuels one of the state’s most important industries: Heritage Tourism.

Federal Issues

Federal agencies oversee key funding programs and policies that protect America’s historic resources from needless destruction.

State Grants

State funding for preservation benefits all Marylanders – and has saved historic resources from Oakland to Ocean City.

State Agency Funding

Several key state agencies are charged with protecting Maryland’s history – a job that requires adequate resources.

Local Incentives

All across the state, local governments have realized the value of a well-preserved community and many offer lucrative programs to assist with rehab efforts.

Main Street

Main Street Maryland’s traditional downtown economic and cultural districts are the cornerstones of local communities throughout the State of Maryland.

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