Preservation Action, Legislative Update
Volume 18, Number 22, June 05, 2015 →
Senate Transportation Bill Could Harm Historic Resources
The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee is currently drafting a major 6-year transportation reauthorization bill. The committee is considering including language from Section 1005 of the Grow America Act, proposed by the Obama Administration, which if enacted would severely threaten our historic resources. Section 1005 would eliminate section 4(f) review, required by the Department of Transportation Act. Section 4(f) is perhaps our nation’s strongest historic preservation law. The law mandates that transportation projects “use all possible planning to minimize harm” to historic resources. Preservation Action opposes this provision as it could have a devastating impact on our historic resources. In addition, Section 1005 would further complicate the review of transportation projects, and do nothing to achieve the intended goal of streamlining the review process.
This harmful provision was included in last years EPW draft known as the MAP-21 Reauthorization Act, but luckily never received a vote in the Senate. The intended goal of the provision is to streamline the review of transportation projects, however experts in the field have said that Section 1005 would do nothing to streamline and could actually further complicate the process.
Preservation Action along with the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP), the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers, and other partner preservation organizations have submitted a coalition letter to the Senate EPW Committee, urging them to not include this harmful provision in the Committee’s draft. For more information on Section 1005 of the Grow America Act, read this 2-pager from the NTHP.
House Passes the Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act
The U.S House of Representatives passed the Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act or H.R 1493, by voice vote this week. The legislation would prevent objects stolen or looted from Syria, since the start of the Syrian civil-war, to be imported or sold in the U.S. The legislation also creates a new position within the State Department to coordinate U.S efforts to protect international cultural property. Supporters of the bill say it will limit the ability of Islamist State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to destroy and loot priceless international heritage and then profit by selling these artifacts on the black market. Similar legislation is already in place to protect cultural heritage looted from Iraq.
H.R 1493 was introduced by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-MI) in March and received bi-partisan support.
“ISIS has ransacked thousands of artifacts from dozens of World Heritage Sites—places like the ancient cities of Mari and Dura-Europos, which were virtually untouched before this crisis. These places are now lost to history, and their destruction has funneled millions of dollars into ISIS’s coffers,”
said Rep. Engel, ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“We need to cut off this source of funding, and at the same time work to preserve this imperiled cultural history.”
The legislation has been received in the Senate and referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Preservation Action applauds the quick passage of the Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act by the House and encourages the same from the Senate.
State Funding for Historic Preservation Partially Restored in Connecticut
A source of funding vital for historic preservation in Connecticut has been partially restored in the state’s budget. The Community Investment Act provides a dedicated funding source for historic preservation, protecting open spaces, preserving farmland, improving farm viability, and creating affordable housing. Earlier this year the governor of Connecticut, Dannel Malloy, proposed diverting all of those funds to the state’s general fund to help fill a budget gap. The Connecticut House and Senate passed state budgets this week that protects and restores 50% of the funds for the Community Investment Act, which would have been cut beginning January 1st. The budget now goes to the Governor’s desk to be signed.
This is a huge victory for preservationists in Connecticut. Thanks largely to the Community Investment Act Coalition, which included the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, Connecticut Preservation Action, affordable housing advocates and others who successfully worked with Connecticut legislators to successfully protect the Community Investment Act.
CBS News: “A Tale of Two Cities“
Stories From the States
Illinois: “Lincoln Museum Separation Plan Goes to Governor“
District of Columbia: “Stones Laid by Benjamin Banneker in the 1790s are Still Standing“