JUNE 08, 2018

House Appropriations Committee Approves FY19 Interior Appropriations Bill, Moves to Full House

This week the House Appropriations Committee approved the FY19 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill on a 25-20 vote, sending the bill to the full House. The bill funds the Historic Preservation Fund at $91.91, $5 million below FY18 enacted levels, but significantly above the Trump Administration's request. The full breakdown is below.

SHPOs: $48.925M, equal to FY18 levels 
THPOs: $11.485M, equal to FY18 levels
SAT grants: $13M, equal to FY18 levels
Civil Rights grants: $13M, equal to FY18 levels
HBCU Grant Program: $5M, equal to FY18 levels
Underrepresented Communities Grants: $500k, equal to FY18 levels
National, State and Local Significance grants: not included, $5 million below FY18 levels.

The bill also included $20.321 million, equal to FY18 enacted levels, for the Heritage Partnership Program, which supports National Heritage Areas (NHA). The bill also encouraged the timely release of funds for NHAs, which like funds for SHPOs and THPOs, has seen significant delays in the release of appropriated funds. Members of the committee also spoke in support of funding included for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and funds to address the deferred maintenance backlog at the National Park Service. Democrats on the committee voted against the bill, largely due to policy riders and the level of funding included for the Environmental Protection Agency. The bill now moves to the full House. The Senate is expected to release their FY19 Interior subcommittee draft as early as next week. 
House Passes Bill to Establish Route 66 as a National Historic Trail
Route 66 in Kingman, AZ
The U.S House passed the Route 66 National Historic Trail Designation Act, which would designate Route 66 as the 20th National Historic Trail, joining the Trail of Tears, the Oregon Trail, and the Lewis and Clark Trial, among others. The bill had the support of 21 bipartisan cosponsors and passed the House with unanimous consent. Currently the 2,400-mile length of Route 66 is protected under the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, which provides technical assistance, guidance and cost-share grants to communities and businesses along the route. However, the corridor protection is only temporary, as the program expires in 2019. 

Organizations, like the Route 66 Road Ahead Partnership and state and local preservation organizations from Missouri to Arizona have been advocating for a Route 66 National Historic Trail designation for years. Now the bill moves to the Senate, where it has been referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Advocates are hopeful that Route 66 will be established at the newest National Historic Trial by the end of the year.
Illinois Legislature Votes to Expand the State Historic Tax Credit Program
The Illinois General Assembly voted to expand the state's River Edge Redevelopment Zone Historic Tax Credit to cover the entire state. Previously the historic tax credit was restricted to just the riverfront towns of Aurora, East St. Louis, Elgin, Peoria and Rockford. Now projects statewide can qualify for a 25% tax credit on eligible rehabilitation expenditures. The expansion received nearly unanimous support from state legislators; the Illinois House voted 101-11-1 and the Illinois Senate voted 51-0 in support of expanding the state's Historic Tax Credit program. 

"The River Edge Tax Credit has a proven record of creating jobs and spurring economic development in Rockford," said Sen. Steve Stadelman, the author of the legislation expanding the tax credit. "I look forward to its continued success statewide."

The 25% tax credit would be capped at $15 million annually and at $3 million per project. The legislation, SB3527, now moves to Gov. Bruce Rauner's desk for his signature. Organizations like Landmarks Illinois and the Illinois chapter of the American Institute of Architects have championed the effectiveness of historic tax credits for years. Congratulations to advocates from across Illinois on this victory. 
Historic Tax Credit Bill Advances in Michigan Legislature
The 114 year old Michigan Central Station in Detroit,MI is one buildings that could benefit if Michigan's HTC is reinstated.
Legislation that would reinstate a Historic Tax Credit program in Michigan cleared the House Tax Policy Committee this week. The bill now moves to the full House for consideration. 
Senate Bill 469 already passed the Senate 36-2 in December. The bill would establish a 25% tax credit for qualified rehabilitation expenses for historic buildings and homes. Michigan has been without a state historic tax credit program since 2011 and is currently one of 15 states with no state historic tax credit program.

The Michigan House Tax Policy Committee capped the annual amount of tax credits that could be awarded at $15 million, in an effort to make it more appealing to Gov. Rick Snyder. The previous iteration of this program was in place from 1999 to 2011 and over that time leveraged $251 million in federal tax credits, led to the creation of 36,000 jobs, and incentivized $1.46 billion in direct rehab expenses.

Our partners at Michigan Historic Preservation Network is leading the effort to revive Michigan's historic tax credit. Check out the Advocacy Alert page from MHPN to learn more their efforts and find out how you can help!

Preservation Action
1307 New Hampshire Ave NW
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Preservation Action is the only national  non-profit dedicated exclusively to lobbying for the best preservation policies at the federal level. We seek to make historic preservation a national priority by advocating to all branches of government through a grassroots constituency empowered with information and training.