Preservation Action, Legislative Update
Volume 20, Number 10, April 07, 2017 →
Action Alert: Tell Your Members of Congress to Support National Heritage Areas
Last month, President Trump released his “America First” Budget Blueprint or “skinny” budget for fiscal year 2018. This budget does not provide detailed appropriations numbers, but does provide top-line numbers for agencies and outlines spending priorities for the Trump administration. President Trump is expected to release his detailed budget in May. Legislators will then begin the appropriations process for FY18, but not before dealing with the remainder of FY17, which with the current continuing resolution, ends on April 28th. While much in President Trump’s budget is still unknown, the outline released specifically targeted the National Heritage Area (NHA) program for elimination. We need your help to protect NHAs!
National Heritage Areas (NHAs) are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape. NHAs tell nationally important stories that celebrate our nation’s diverse heritage. The NHA program is composed of 49 national heritage areas from across the country. NHAs are not administered by the National Park Service (NPS), but by state/non-profit entities with guidance and limited financial assistance (which is matched by other public or private entities) provided by the NPS. NHAs are currently funded at $16 million, and have been a frequent target of other administration’s budgets.
We need you to take action now and join us in opposing any attempt to eliminate the National Heritage Area program. While this budget outline is very concerning, Congress ultimately controls the appropriations process. Your representative and senators need to hear from you, as constituents, on this important issue. Is there a National Heritage Area in your state/district? NHAs like the MotorCities National Heritage Area in Michigan or the Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area in Iowa, help to tell the history of America. Make sure you highlight what’s at risk if this program is eliminated. Preservation Action will continue to follow the appropriations process and continue advocating for robust funding for historic preservation programs, like NHAs.
1. Do you already have a contact in your Representative/Senators office? Reach out, expressing your concern for National Heritage Areas.
3. Tell your members of Congress to protect the National Heritage Area program: Sample letter below.
National Heritage Area Sample Letter
Dear (Congressman/woman or Senator)
As your constituent, I am writing to ask you to protect the National Heritage Area Program from elimination in the Administration’s proposed 2018 budget and as you continue work on fiscal year 2017 appropriations.
National Heritage Areas are vital in preserving natural, cultural, and historic resources for future generations. National Heritage Areas also provide an outstanding example of how to leverage taxpayer investment with public and private resources, something the President’s budget specifically calls for. The program also helps to strengthen local economies, providing jobs and increased tax revenue.
*Provide local example*
You are in a position to ensure that National Heritage Areas continue to promote and preserve our past while strengthening local economies. I ask for your support in protecting the funding for this vital program during the fy17 and fy18 appropriations process.
Preservation50 Releases Closing Report on Effort to Commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the NHPA
This week, Preservation50 released their closing report, wrapping up the 3 year effort to recognize and commemorate the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) in 2016. The NHPA was signed into law in October of 1966 and established the framework of how the U.S would preserve historic buildings, landscapes and archaeology. In addition to recognizing the historic law, the Preservation50 effort also set out to build a strong preservation program for the future and educate lawmakers on how to improve heritage policy and funding. Preservation Action was pleased to be a partner in this effort.
Overall Preservation50 set out with 5 goals in mind, Build a Coalition, Leverage Lessons Learned, Tell the Story Broadly, and Educate Policymakers, and Develop Leaders. Thanks in part to the more than 100 partner organizations delivered on those goals with new, exciting initiatives. Check out Preservation50’s complete Closing Report to learn more!
Preservation Grant Improvement Act Passes in Maryland
The Maryland General Assembly passed legislation this week that will provide more stable funding for preservation across Maryland in the future. The Grant Improvement Act (HB1513/SB1069) calls for $1.5 million to be provided annually to the state’s Historic Preservation Grant Fund. The fund is managed by the Maryland Historical Trust and primarily supports the rehabilitation of historic properties, the survey and documentation of historic properties, and museum projects.
This Grant Improvement Act provides a much more stable funding source for the Historic Preservation Grant Fund, which previously had not received new appropriations for 8 years. While the passed legislation does note that the funding is subject to “limitations of the state budget” the bill calls for the Governor to include historic preservation funding in the annual budget. The bill now moves to Maryland Governor, Larry Hogan, to sign into law. This is a huge victory for preservation in Maryland. Congratulations to the grassroots advocates that made this possible, especially to our partners at Preservation Maryland, for their tireless advocacy.
Thanks for Another Great Advocacy Week
Thanks to everyone who battled the weather and came out for National Historic Preservation Advocacy Week. Thanks to all of the participants, sponsors and supporters who helped make it all possible. We had over 200 meetings scheduled, representing 42 states!
Return Hill Meetings Report Forms
Knowing who you met with and how the meetings went is essential for Preservation Action and National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers staff for their continued advocacy. Reports can be completed online and takes less than 10 minutes (in case anyone had difficulty entering multiple reports, it should be working now).
A copy of the form was also included in your briefing packet, and can be downloaded here. Completed forms can also be emailed to email@example.com, or simply mailed to our office. Please return your hill report forms by April 15th.
As preservationists return to the their home states, Preservation Action is counting on grassroots activists to keep up at the advocacy!
- –Follow up with your members of Congress and their staff you met during your hill visits. Perhaps send a personal thank you note.
- –Urge your members of Congress to co-sponsor the Historic Tax Credit Improvement Act (S. 425, H.R 1158)
- –Request a meeting with your member of Congress in their district. The next congressional in-district period is April 7-24th.
- –Invite the members and their district staff to tour tax credit projects or historic sites.
- –Invite the member of Congress to speak at a local event on historic preservation.
The New York Times: “Op Ed: The Endangered Antiquities Act“
Stories From Around the States