Sine Die 2022: State Legislative Advocacy Report

04/11/2022
By Elly Colmers Cowan

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.

While this session still did not look like those of years past due to Covid-19 precautions, Preservation Maryland was active virtually and in-preson advocating for the preservation and smart growth policies and funding that will help save thousands of historic buildings and acres of open space. Through our increased presence in Annapolis and sustained advocacy efforts, we have positioned ourselves as a leading voice for preservation.

Maryland House of Delegates Chamber, Maryland State Government

Maryland House of Delegates Chamber, Maryland State Government

Preservation Advocacy Successes

Preservation Maryland was able to secure unprecedented funding for preservation and succeeded in passing a number of our legislative priorities, including:

Historic Revitalization Tax Credit – Funding and extension [SB289/HB27]

Thanks to the advocacy efforts of Preservation Maryland and our partners, as well as the support of key legislators, we were able to secure an additional $10M in the FY23 Budget, bringing the total amount of credits for FY23 to $22M. This is an overwhelming increase of support for the program that had seen only $9M in funding for nearly a decade. This brings Maryland closer in line with our neighboring states like West Virginia, who annually invests $30M into their historic tax credit.

Thanks to legislation sponsored by Delegates Eric Luedtke (Montgomery County) Stephanie Smith (Baltimore City) and Senators Cory McCray (Baltimore City) and Katie Fry Hester (Howard and Carroll Counties), the large Commercial Historic Tax Credit Program will now have a minimum annual apprpopriation of $20M from FY24-FY31. The per-project cap has also been raised to $5M from the previous $3M, allowing the credit to have a greater impact on catalytic preservation projects across the state.

The same legislation now ensures that the Small Commercial Historic Tax Credit will be annually funded at at least $2M begining in FY24, a stabilizing change to the funding mechanism of the program. 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.

Thank your legislators for passing this essential preservation legislation today!

Maryland corps Program – revisions [SB228]

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

This legislation, introduced by President of the Senate Bill Ferguson (Baltimore City), will bring service opportunities across Maryland into the 21st century. Among many other worthy goals, it would creates and funds 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.

While there is currently a documented and severe shortage of trained preservation tradespeople, passage of this bill will help address this crisis by investing in workforce training in the traditional trades through a Maryland Historic Trades Corps program. Participants will 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

Maryland Great outdoors act [SB228]

The Bay Bridge from Sandy Point State Park. Photo by Maryland DNR, 2013.

The Bay Bridge from Sandy Point State Park. Photo by Maryland DNR, 2013.

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

budget Highlights for historic preservation Funding

Budget Bill – Fiscal Year 2023 (HB300/SB290)

While the state of Maryland was in a better financial postition this session than in many years, there was stiff competition as many different interests vied for the funding in the FY23 Budget. Preservation Maryland remained vigilant throughout the last 90 days, making a strong case for essential funding for history and heritage priorities.

Smart Growth Advocacy Successes

CLIMATE SOLUTIONS NOW ACT OF 2022 (SB528)

This omnibus climate bill represents the hard work of many years and many passionate advocates. The bill sets ambitious carbon reduction goals, works to reduce emissions from transportation and buildings, positions the state government to lead by example, takes bold steps to correct environmental injustices associated with climate change, and considers the infrastructure needs associated with a decarbonized economy.

Program Open Space

budget Highlights for Open space Funding

Through the hard work of the Partners for Open Space, which includes Preservation Maryland, the FY22 Budget include critical Program Open Space funding, including:

Advocacy Requires Your Support

Staying engaged over the entire 90-day session requires dedication, partnerships and significant financial resources. Preservation Maryland is dependent on donor contributions to keep us on the ground in Annapolis making the case for preservation. Please consider making a gift to our Advocacy Fund to help support our work in Annapolis.

SUPPORT PRESERVATION MARYLAND

Elly Colmers Cowan · Director of Government Relations

Elly Cowan works at the local, state, and federal levels to advance the historic preservation, smart growth, and community development policies that make Preservation Maryland's work possible.

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