By Nicholas A. Redding
As the sun set on September 17, 1862, Sharpsburg, Maryland had just witnessed the single bloodiest day in American history – a day that also forever changed the tiny rural town.
The following advocacy issues represent our current portfolio of active efforts. Each issue presents itself with an opportunity to get involved – and each urgently requires donor support to make them a success.
Report: The 2019 Legislative Session of the Maryland General Assembly came to a close on Monday, April 8, 2019. 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 recent history. With Session adjourned until January 2020, we are happy to report that we were able to accomplish significant advances for preservation and smart growth in Maryland.
The revitalization of Maryland communities is fueled by the Heritage Structure Rehabilitation Tax Credit program. Senator Bill Ferguson and Delegate Brooke Lierman of Baltimore’s District 46 plans to introduce legislation that will strengthen this effective community redevelopment tool.
As of FY19, Maryland invested only $9M in the Heritage Structure Rehabilitation Tax Credit program for the year for the entire state. By comparison, Virginia invests nearly $100M annually, and West Virginia invests $30M. Maryland is falling behind. This legislation will require the Governor to appropriate at least $20M annually for this essential program and will extend the authorization of the program through 2024.
We recognize the positive impact that historic preservation projects can have for the surrounding community. This new legislation will help incentivize the use of historic buildings to create affordable housing. The forthcoming bill would:
Maryland’s preservation grant programs had gone completely unfunded since FY10. Because of our advocacy, in FY18, funding was restored to the Capital and Non-Capital grant programs. Current funding is still at starvation level. We must and will do more to support those safe-guarding our state’s rich and unique history.
The Smart Growth Investment Fund was established to help provide loan guarantees for smart growth infill projects. The Fund will help incentivize growth and revitalization in existing communities, protecting critical natural, cultural, and historic resources from development and sprawl. Legislation this Session (SB3) will appropriate $7M for the Fund.
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:
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 supports the repayment of previous diversions from the fund.
Main Street Maryland’s traditional downtown economic and cultural districts are the cornerstones of local communities throughout the State of Maryland.
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.
Thanks to this program, nearly all Marylanders are just 15 minutes away from a state, local park or public open space.
Several key state agencies are charged with protecting Maryland’s history – a job that requires adequate resources.
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.
State funding for preservation benefits all Marylanders – and has saved historic resources from Oakland to Ocean City.
In Maryland, tax credits for rehab projects have saved thousands of historic buildings statewide and created billions in state revenue.