Advocacy Update

Our Work is Never Done! In the face of the ongoing pandemic, Preservation Maryland convened a task force of history, preservation, economic development, design, and tourism organizations to focus on identifying and advocating for public policy necessary to support the recovery of Maryland’s historical and cultural resources and the communities they support. The Maryland Heritage Recovery Task Force is focused on including museumsadaptive reuse, and smart growth in future recovery bills. 

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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 2020 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.

Session is Closed, Yet Our Work is Not Done: The 441st Session of the Maryland General Assembly came to an abrupt close on Wednesday, March 18, 2020 due to Covid-19. With the final three weeks of session compressed into four days, Preservation Maryland worked to make sure that a number of our priority bills moved through the legislative process before Session came to a close. Now, we’re focused on including museums, adaptive reuse, and smart growth in future recovery bills.



Historic Revitalization Tax Credit

The revitalization of Maryland communities is fueled by the Historic Revitalization Tax Credit program. Senator Katie Fry Hester and Delegate Stephanie Smith are introducing The Historic Revitalization Tax Credit Improvement Act of 2020 (SB978/HB862) that will strengthen this effective community redevelopment tool.


As of FY20, Maryland invested only $9M in the Historic Revitalization 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. Preservation Maryland and our supporters have worked diligently to make policy changes to strengthen this essential revitalization tool. Unfortunately, without more funding for the program, those positive changes have little opportunity to make the intended impact for communities across Maryland.


We recognize the positive impact that historic preservation projects can have for the surrounding community and the state as a whole. The Historic Revitalization Tax Credit Improvement Act of 2020 (SB978/HB862) would:

  1. Increase funding for the program to $15 for FY 2022, followed by a stepped increase to reach full funding at $30M in FY2025,
  2. Allow the state Historic Tax Credit to be transferred outside of development partnerships to help decrease the cost of completing projects and provide an additional financing option for preservation redevelopment. This would go a long way to offset the damaging impact on community redevelopment the change to the federal Historic Tax Credit that came out of recent tax reform has had and costs the state nothing, and
  3. Extend the authorization of the program through 2028.

Preservation Grant Funding

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 continues at starvation level, with the need far outstripping available funds. We must and will do more to support those safe-guarding our state’s rich and unique history.


  1. Capital Grant Program
    Current Funding: $600k
    FY21 Capital Request: $600k
    This program funds capital upgrades and repairs to certified historic structures owned by non-profits and local governments. It is operated as a competitively-awarded program with statewide reach and impact.
  2. Non-Capital Grants (Planning & Research)
    Current Funding: $300k
    FY21 Operating Request: $400k
    This program was previously funded via the state operating budget. This program awarded competitive grants for architectural and archaeological research, survey and documentation, public education, and planning projects. The program directly supported local government efforts to preserve places important to their constituents.

African American Heritage Grant Funding

The African American Heritage Grant Program provides direct grant support for capital (bricks-and-mortar) upgrades and repairs to sites representing Maryland’s African-American historical experience. As with the Capital and Non-Capital Grant programs, the funding requests for this program are consistently greater than the available funding.

CURRENT African American Heritage Grant Funding: $1M

Smart Growth Legislation

Southern Maryland rapid transit Project

(SB105/HB205) Over the last 25 years, the state has completed five major studies on the feasibility, need, and economic impact of high-capacity, fixed route transit service to Southern Maryland, and despite the conclusion of every study repeatedly confirming that the Southern Maryland Rapid Transit project would vastly improve the quality of life for Southern Maryland residents, promote economic development consistent with smart growth, and advance the State’s emissions reduction goal, the Maryland Department of Transportation has not moved forward with the project. SB105 would require the State to complete the necessary steps to complete the Southern Maryland Rapid Transit project and commit the necessary funding.

Local Consent of Toll Road Construction

(SB229/HB292)This legislation would extended an authority currently only granted to eastern shore counties, which would require that local governments approve of state toll roads before their construction in their jurisdictions. Toll roads have the potential to significantly impact growth patterns, and often historic resources, making this legislation a priority for the smart growth and preservation community alike.

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.

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Advocacy Updates

Senator Ben Cardin and Congressman Steny Hoyer, with Senator Chris Van Hollen as an original co-sponsor, have introduced federal legislation that would designate the existing Southern Maryland State Heritage Area known as Destination Southern Maryland as a National Heritage Area.

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Partners for Open Space is launching a social media campaign to generate statewide support for Maryland’s parks, nature, outdoor spaces, as well as its rural and historic heritage, all with a strong nod toward Maryland’s Program Open Space.

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Leading preservation economics firm, PlaceEconomics recently completed an analysis of Baltimore City’s Historic Preservation Tax Credit program that supports positive assumptions about the value of the credit, and brings to light new information about the use and benefit of the credit in communities across the city.

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In late August, the Taxation, Finance, & Economic Development Committee of the Baltimore City Council returned a favorable report on Council Bill 20-0552, which extends the city’s historic tax credit through 2022. The bill now moves on to the full City Council, and we need you now to reach out to your councilperson and ask them to support this legislation.

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The City of Baltimore is currently considering a bill that would extend its historic tax credit through February 2022.

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Frederick County has recently passed three pieces of landmark legislation that puts the county at the forefront of smart growth and environmental policy in Maryland. Preservation Maryland is proud to have worked with our local partners through the Smarter Growth Alliance for Frederick County to achieve these successes and to have helped ensure a better future for residents.

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The Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning has invited the public to read and comment on the draft Ellicott City Watershed Master Plan being prepared by lead firm, Mahan Rykiel Associates.

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On the evening of July 22, 2020, the House of Representatives approved one of the most significant pieces of conservation legislation in a generation, the Great American Outdoors Act, with broad bipartisan support. Having passed the Senate in June, the legislation is on its way to the President’s desk, who specifically requested the bill for his signature.

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The House of Representatives has passed The Moving Forward Act (H.R. 2), a comprehensive infrastructure bill that includes enhancements and temporary emergency measures for the federal Historic Tax Credit, thanks in part to the advocacy of Preservation Maryland and our national partners.

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Tagged In: Advocacy, Smart Growth,

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, who represents Maryland’s 5th District announced that the House would vote on the Great American Outdoors Act (HR 7092), the single largest investment in the preservation of historic, cultural, and natural resources for public lands in our generation, by the end of July.

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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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