Preservation Action, Legislative Update
Volume 20, Number 20, June 23, 2017 →
Appropriations Update: Secretary Zinke Testifies in Senate on the FY 2018 Interior Budget Request
This week Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, testified before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on President Trump’s proposed FY18 budget request. The budget request would cut the Department of Interior’s budget by $1.4 billion from FY17 enacted levels and cut the National Park Service budget by $300 million over FY17 enacted levels. The proposal also calls for significant cuts to preservation programs, including a $29.8 million cut to the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) and eliminates funding for National Heritage Areas.
During both hearings, Democrats and Republicans questioned the proposed cuts and program eliminations laid out in the administration’s budget request. Many members specifically questioned cuts to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Secretary Zinke emphasized throughout the hearings that in an effort to balance the budget tough cuts and choices had to be made. During the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee hearing many members also questioned the Department of Interior’s current review of 27 National Monuments named in the last 21 years. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) called the National Monument review an attack on the Antiquities Act. Secretary Zinke recently released an interim report on the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, where he recommended a reduction in size. The public comment period is still open through July 10th on all monuments under review.
Preservation Action will continue to closely follow budget process in Congress, but we need your help. Reach out to your members of Congress and tell them to support funding for the Historic Preservation Fund and critical history and preservation programs. Let them know how these cuts impact you and your community. It is especially important if your members of Congress serve on the House Appropriations Interior Subcommittee or Senate Appropriations Interior Subcommittee.
Sen. Leahy Introduces Historic Downtown Preservation and Access Act
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced legislation that would improve the safety and accessibility of historic buildings across the country. The Historic Downtown Preservation and Access Act (S.1306) would provide tax incentives for property owners to make safety and accessibility upgrades to their historic properties, like fire sprinklers and elevators. The bill would also provide tax incentives for the removal of dangerous materials often found in historic buildings, like asbestos and lead paint. Property owners often face high costs when bringing their historic properties up to code. This bill would help to offset those costs. Supporters say these tax incentives would stimulate private investment, jump start revitalization of historic buildings, and create jobs.
“Historic buildings are part of Vermont’s legacy. They anchor many of our historic town centers. I have often heard from communities across our state about the challenges of bringing cherished historic structures up to code, due to high costs. As town managers, developers, and residents look to preserve historic villages, improving accessibility and avoiding calamitous damages from fire remain clear and present concerns. The tangible help offered in this bill is intended to ensure that our most cherished and iconic Vermont historical landmarks remain safe and accessible.” Sen. Leahy said of the bill.
The Historic Downtown Preservation and Access Act has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee. As Congress continues work on tax reform, Sen Leahy plans on pushing for this bill to be included in any final tax reform legislation. Preservation Action thanks Sen. Leahy for his continued support of historic preservation, especially for his leadership on the this bill and the Historic Tax Credit Improvement Act (S.425).
Save the Date! Preservation Action Foundation After Party and Auction Returns Nov. 15th
We’re excited to announce the revival of our annual benefit auction with the Preservation Action Foundation’s After Party and Auction on November 15, 2017 from 8pm-10pm during the National Preservation Conference in Chicago, IL! The annual auction had long been a highlight for Preservation Action and of the National Preservation Conference. The After Party and Auction will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 15th at the Cliff Dwellers Club on the 22nd floor of the Borg-Warner building in Chicago. The event will held from 8pm-10pm following the Opening Reception of the National Preservation Conference at the Field Museum. Please save the date, and stay tuned for more details!
PastFoward 2017, the National Preservation Conference hosted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, will be held Nov. 14-17 in Chicago, IL. Check out the conference website for more information.
Stories From Around the States