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  • Writer's pictureFlorida Trust

The 2023 Florida Legislative Session Begins!

On the eve of the opening of the 60-day Florida legislative session, the team at the Florida Trust has been hard at work navigating legislation and advocating for historic preservation. We have a few exciting preservation goals that we are focusing on this year.


Establish a State Historic Tax Credit

Florida Historic Capital Building in Tallahassee, Florida

First, the Florida Trust is committed to establishing a state historic tax credit in Florida, a proven tax incentive for revitalizing historic places and supporting economic development. The Main Street Historic Tourism and Revitalization Act is filed as House Bill 499 and Senate Bill 288. If legislation providing a state tax credit passes this Legislative Session, Florida would join 37 other states in providing this important incentive to rehabilitate historic buildings, encourage private investment and grow local economies. Further, research has shown a state historic tax credit increases the amount in federal investments in rehabilitation as well.

The Florida Historic Tax Credit would provide a tax credit of up to 20 percent of total eligible costs for rehabilitation of a certified historic structure and a tax credit of up to 30 percent of total eligible costs for rehabilitation of a certified historic structure that is physically located within the official district boundaries of an active, certified Florida Main Street community. It is intended to pair with applications to the Florida State Division of Historical Resources for the Federal Historic Tax Credit.

The federal credit is 20 percent applied to qualified rehabilitation costs for certified historic structures. At the federal level, the credit has been proven to generate new economic activity by leveraging private dollars — $173 billion since inception — to preserve historic buildings and create jobs. Through 2020, the rehabilitation of 46,000 historic buildings has created more than 2.8 million jobs. See our story about Jacksonville's revitalization project of the Union Terminal Warehouse to learn more about what these benefits can do for local communities.

House Bill 499, sponsored by Representative Paula Stark, was filed on January 24th. HB 499 has been referred to the House Ways & Means Committee where it is currently awaiting action. Please review the committee member list and reach out to your local Representative encouraging them to support this bill. Also, contact committee Chairman Stan McClain and urge him to agenda the bill as soon as possible. You can find your Representative here.

The companion bill to HB 499, Senate Bill 288, is sponsored by Senator Nick DiCeglie and was filed on January 19th. We are thrilled that the bill passed its first committee meeting on February 14th in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee! Next, it is scheduled for the Senate Finance & Tax Committee. Please review the committee members listed in the Finance & Tax Committee and reach out to your local Senators to support SB 288. Also, contact committee Chairman Blaise Ingoglia and encourage him to agenda the bill as soon as possible. You can find your Senator here.


Protect Florida's Abandoned Cemeteries

Moncrief Road Cemeteries in Jacksonville, Florida

Next, the Florida Trust is supporting a bill that will protect Florida's cemeteries. House Bill 49: Abandoned and Historic Cemeteries, introduced by Representative Fentrice Driskell, would create a historic cemeteries program within Florida's Division of Historical Resources. The bill would create guidelines for state agencies, local governments and developers to identify, locate, and maintain abandoned and historic cemeteries, with specific attention towards African American cemeteries. Read more about the bill here.

The bill moved favorably through its first committee stop in the House. But, it still needs to be put on the agenda for the Infrastructure & Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee. Contact your local Representatives or, any that you may know on the committee and urge them to support the bill. Further, please encourage Committee Chairman Alex Andrade to give this important legislation a hearing by getting it on the agenda.


Fully Fund the FY2024 Historic Preservation Special Category Grant List

Last, but not least, we are advocating for full funding of the FY2024 Historic Preservation Special Category Grant list. The Florida Division of Historical Resources Historic Preservation Grant program is one of the most significant ways the state protects our irreplaceable historic places, strengthens communities and supports local economies.

Monticello Opera House; Ranked first on the FY2024 Historic Preservation Special Category Grant list.

The purpose of these grants is to provide funding to assist major local, regional and statewide efforts to preserve significant historic and archaeological resources, assist major archaeological excavations or research projects and aid in the development of major museum exhibits that will promote knowledge and appreciation of the history of Florida.

The Florida Historical Commission reviews and ranks Special Category grants to create the annual list, which is then approved by the Florida Secretary of State before being sent to the legislature to determine funding. See the grant list here.

Read more about Florida Trust legislative initiatives in 2023, learn how the proposed historic tax credit may impact your community or sign up for our advocacy newsletter!

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