House Appropriations Committee Passes FY 2015 Interior Appropriations Bill
The full House Appropriations Committee passed the FY 2015 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill in a 29-19 vote. Democrats opposed the bill as it maintains severe cuts in the EPA’s appropriation. The bill now moves to the House floor. Republican and and Democratic appropriators crafted a manager’s amendment, which restored funding to the Heritage Partnership Program to FY 2014 enacted levels. The bill originally called for $9.2 million in funding for the program, a nearly $9 million decrease. Now the bill is being restored to $18.29 million, FY 2014 enacted levels. The Heritage Partnership Program provides grants and technical assistance to National Heritage Areas (NHA).
The bill also takes significant steps to support the National Park Service’s (NPS) Centennial Initiative, in preparation for NPS to celebrate their 100 year anniversary in 2016.
The bill includes $56.41 million for the Historic Preservation Fund, the same levels as FY 2014 enacted–$47.42 million for State Historic Preservation Offices, $8.98 million for Tribal Historic Preservation Offices and $500,000 in grants for underserved communities. The bill also included the following funding levels:
$18.29 million for the Heritage Partnership Program
$30 million for the National Park Service Centenial Celebration
$10 million for the National Park Service Centennial Challenge
Rep. Kildee’s Request for Hardest Hit Funds Could Put 106 Review at Risk
Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) asked Secretary Treasury Jack Lew to allow a portion of a 2010 award given to Michigan under the federal Hardest Hit Fund to be used to remove blighted commercial buildings. If allowed by the Treasury Department, the removal of these blighted commercial buildings may avoid the Section 106 or the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) review process.
Last year the Treasury Department issued a waiver allowing $100 million from the original $498 million award to be used for removal of abandoned residential properties. This decision avoided the Section 106 review process and SHPO review of demolitions.
Rep. Kildee, who played a key role in the last Treasury Department waiver, is requesting that this waiver be used once again to allow the removal of vacant commercial properties. Detroit’s Blight Removal Task Force estimated there were 2,056 vacant commercial structures in the city. Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) has restricted demolition in any designated National Register districts, but allowed it in “eligible” districts. Preservation Action is strongly opposed to any blight removal without Section 106 review.
House Votes to Make Land Conservation Tax Credit Permanent
The House passed the Charities Package in a 277-130 vote, which included H.R. 2807. H.R. 2807 would reinstate and make permanent tax incentives for land conservation. This bill helps to protect farmland, rangeland, woodlands and other open spaces by providing landowners an incentive to permanently protect their land from development. This important piece of legislation has been a priority of the Land Trust Alliance and represents a huge victory for them and other conservationists. The bill now moves to the Senate.
Historic Preservation Tax Credits in North Carolina at Risk
Historic tax credits (HTC) are still at risk in North Carolina. Preservationists continue to urge state House and Senate members to include HTC’s in the final budget. The budget passed by the North Carolina House does not include historic preservation tax credits, while the Senate version does. Currently the two chambers are in conference trying to reconcile the differences between the two budgets. It remains uncertain if HTC’s will be included in the final budget.
According to the N.C Department of Commerce, the historic preservation tax credit contributes $124.5 million annually to the state gross domestic product and approximately 2,190 jobs. Additionally, North Carolina ranked third nationally in terms of its usage of historic preservation tax credits in 2011.
We ask North Carolina preservationists to contact their state Senators and House members and encourage them to include historic preservation tax credits in the final budget. View a sample letter to send below
I write to request your support for North Carolina’s Historic Rehabilitation Investment Program. As state Senate and House members attempt to reconcile differences between the FY 2015 budgets passed by each chamber, it is critical to include funding for historic preservation tax credits. In our state historic preservation has proved to be a success in driving economic development and job creation, and, importantly, preserving our heritage.
Historic tax credits provide a strong incentive for developers to preserve and renovate historic buildings instead of demolishing and building anew. They help create vibrant communities and can act as a catalyst for economic development. According to the N.C Department of Commerce, the historic preservation tax credit contributes $124.5 million annually to the state gross domestic product and approximately 2,190 jobs.
The Historic Rehabilitation Investment Program is good for our local economy and helps preserve North Carolina’s heritage. I encourage you to support historic preservation tax credits in North Carolina and make sure the program is included in the final budget.Thank you for considering this urgent request.
Preservation Action Election Watch
Elections of Congressional representation in the US House of Representatives and US Senate are important acts of civic participation. This election, historic preservationists have an opportunity to engage candidates on the historic preservation issues important to you and your communities. Congressional leaders supportive of historic preservation are retiring from offices in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Arizona: August 26
Connecticut: August 12
Delaware: September 9
Florida: August 26
Guam: August 30
Hawaii: August 9
Massachusetts: September 9
Michigan: August 5
Minnesota: August 12
New Hampshire: September 9
Rhode Island: September 9
Tennessee: August 7
Vermont: August 26
Virgin Islands: August 9
Washington: August 5
Wisconsin: August 12
Wyoming: August 19
C2ER– “Examining Historic Tax Credits“