Preservation Action, Legislative Update
Volume 20, Number 14, May 05, 2017 →

Congress Reaches Deal on Spending Bill Includes Positive News for Preservation

This week Congress reached a deal on a FY17 Omnibus spending bill, funding the government into September. The deal was approved by the House and Senate and signed by President Trump, averting the May 5th deadline from the last stopgap spending bill. The bill includes positive news for preservationists, including vital increases for the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF). The bill includes appropriations for the Save America’s Treasures program, which supports the preservation of nationally significant sites, structures and artifacts. The bill also included increases for the civil rights competitive grants program, which supports sites associated with the Civil Rights Movement, and funds for the Historically Black Colleges and Universities preservation program. The Omnibus spending bill funds the HPF at $80.9 million, an increase of $15.49 over FY16 enacted levels.

FY17 HPF Appropriations

  • State Historic Preservation Offices: $47.925M, $1M over FY16 enacted levels
  • Tribal Historic Preservation Offices: $10.485M, $500,000 over FY16 enacted levels
  • Civil Rights Movement Grants : $13M, $5M over FY16 enacted levels
  • Underrepresented Communities Grants: $500,000, equal to FY16 enacted levels
  • Save America’s Treasures: $5M, not included in FY16 levels
  • HBCU Preservation Program: $4M, not included in FY16 levels
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The FY17 Omnibus Spending bill also includes level funding at $19.821 million for the Heritage Partnership Program (HPP). This provides stable funding for all National Heritage Areas, and is $10.3 million over FY17 requested levels. President Trump’s proposed budget outline, also called for the elimination of the National Heritage Areas program.

These final numbers for the HPF are similar to the FY17 HPF request we presented to members of congress during our annual National Historic Preservation Advocacy Week. Thank you to all of the advocates that highlighted the importance of the Historic Preservation Fund. We’d also like to thank the members of Congress who were instrumental in securing these increases for the HPF, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). Attention now moves to the FY18 Appropriations process which will likely kick off over the next several weeks.

Take Action to Protect the Antiquities Act

In response to the recent threats to the Antiquities Act, we encourage you to reach out to your members of Congress and ask them to protect the Antiquities Act. Last week, President Trump signed an executive order calling for the Department of Interior to review the size and scope all National Monument designations, of over 100,000 acres or “made without adequate public outreach.”, from the last 21 years. Legislation is also being considered in Congress that would severely limit a President’s ability to designate new National Monuments. S.33 and H.R 2284 would require state and congressional approval before designating a new National Monument. Both Republican and Democratic presidents going back to Theodore Roosevelt have used the Antiquities Act of 1906 to protect natural, cultural and historically significant sites across the country.

Now is the time to express your support for the Antiquities Act and the cultural heritage that past presidents have worked to protect for more than a century. Check out the Call to Action from the Coalition for American Heritage. They’ve created an easy to use tool for you to contact your members of Congress today!

Celebrate National Historic Preservation Month This May

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Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) speaking at HTC project, the Phillips Packing Plant in Cambridge, MD on March 10th. Photo: Preservation Maryland

Celebrate National Historic Preservation Month this May! Tours, special programs and events celebrating all things preservation, will be happening across the country throughout May. Let us know what your city or state is doing to celebrate Preservation Month!

Preservation Month Site Visits

National Historic Preservation Month is a great time to reach out to your members of Congress and their staff, and invite them tour a historic tax credit project or join a Preservation Month event. This week, Historic Preservation Caucus co-chairs submitted a letter to their colleagues encouraging them participate in a Preservation Month site visit or event. The House will be on an in-district period May 7-13 and the House and Senate will on an in-district period May 28-June 3. One thing we heard time and time again from congressional staff during Advocacy Week, was site visits help to show members of Congress the tangible impact of programs like the Historic Tax Credit and Historic Preservation Fund.

Our partners at Heritage Ohio, just toured several historic sites in Southwest Ohio with staff from Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), and Sen. Sherrod Brown’s (D-OH) offices. Tours like these highlight the benefits of the Historic Tax Credit program. Share stories and photos from your site visits with us on Facebook and Twitter!

Legislation in Texas House Would Restrict Local Historic Preservation Efforts

A bill introduced in the Texas House of Representatives would severely limit a cities ability to designate a historic landmark, and make it easier to demolish historic buildings. H.B 3418, introduced by Rep. Gary Elkins, include several provisions that would severely weaken local municipalities ability to protect historically significant buildings. H.B 3418 would require that any property being considered for preservation protection must be the site of a “widely recognized” historic event or associated with a “historic figure who lived at the property location”. This arbitrary rule would override municipal laws and regulations and leave out numerous important historic sites that don’t fit that limited criteria.

The law would also require a 3/4 majority in planning commissions, zoning boards, and city councils to approve historical designations; an unnecessarily high threshold that could block historic district designations across the state. Lastly, the law would shorten the period of time in which local governments have to approve or reject proposed demolitions, constructions, or alterations in a designated historic area. After 30 days, any proposed demolitions, constructions, or alterations would be automatically approved.

The Texas House Urban Affairs Committee held a hearing on the proposed legislation, in which our partners at Preservation Texas, San Antonio’s Office of Historic Preservation, and Preservation Austin spoke in strong opposition to the bill. After the hearing, the bill was left pending and the chief sponsor off the bill, Rep. Gary Elkins, promised to revise the bill language to clarify protection of property owners. Check out the post from Preservation Texas to learn more and find out how you can help.

National News

Coalition for American Heritage: “Webinar: Yes You Can! Advocating and Lobbying as a Nonprofit

Stories From Around the States

Oregon: “Saving Places in Rural Oregon

Oklahoma: “House Bill Imperils Historic Tax Credits for Rehabilitation, Preservationist Says

Wisconsin: “Historic Tax Credit Supporters Estimate $832M Economic Impact

Michigan: “Governor Snyder Honors Historic Preservation Efforts

Massachusetts: “Explore Boston This Historic Preservation Month

 

 

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