The Legislative Session's second week has been exciting, with committee hearings, an advocacy webinar and a celebration of Miami's Art Deco District.
Engaging with you
You are the most significant part of our advocacy efforts — your voice matters! Thank you for being an advocate for Florida's historic places this legislative session. Here's what we've done in advocacy in the last week:
Advocating for historic preservation in Miami
Florida Trust Board President Mike Cosden and CEO & President Melissa Wyllie kicked off the legislative session with a visit to Miami's 47th Annual Art Deco Weekend! They met with preservationists and lawmakers, discussed advocacy priorities and presented the Florida Trust's advocacy strategy for 2024.
Connecting with advocates around the state
On Wednesday, January 17, the Florida Trust organized the webinar Legislative Session 2024: Historic Preservation Advocacy. Joined by 1000 Friends of Florida President Paul Owens and Miami Design Preservation League Daniel Ciraldo, Florida Trust CEO & President Melissa Wyllie presented our strategy for this year's session, opportunities and challenges for historic preservation, an overview of bills with a potentially significant impact and ways to get involved.
If you missed this webinar, make sure to sign up for our advocacy alerts for similar events in the future.
Here are some updates from our strategic focus areas at the Capitol this week:
1. Establish a Florida Historic Tax Credit
On January 16, Senate Bill 1166, the Main Street Historical Tourism and Revitalization Act, passed unanimously in its first stop in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee, presented by sponsor Senator Nick DiCeglie.
Its companion bill, House Bill 1183, sponsored by Representative Webster Barnaby, has received a new co-sponsor, Representative Paula Stark! The bill is currently sitting in the House Ways & Means Committee, but it has not been added to the committee agenda.
As a reminder, the bills introducing the Main Street Historical Tourism and Revitalization Act would to establish a state tax credit to
revitalize Florida Main Street communities,
promote heritage tourism, generate well-paying jobs and revive vacant or underused historic structures. The proposed credit would cover up to 20 percent of eligible costs for renovating a certified historic structure and an additional 30 percent tax credit for eligible costs within the official boundaries on an active, certified Florida Main Street community. Learn more about the historic tax credit.
Representative Stark with Florida Trust CEO & President Melissa Wyllie (left); Representative Webster Barnaby with Florida Trust Board Trustee Mark Zubaly and Melissa Wyllie (right).
How you can help:
Please reach out to your local lawmakers, or any you lawmakers you have a relationship with, and encourage them to support the Main Street Historical Tourism and Revitalization Act. Specifically, ask them to join on as co-sponsors for the bill. The more interest and support the legislation receives from other lawmakers, the more likely it is to pass.
2. Amend the Safe Structures and Revitalization Act
Miami Beach's National Register Historic Districts could be severely impacted without a bill amendment. Photo: Miami Design Preservation League.
Senate Bill 1526, Resiliency and Safe Structures Act, introduced by Senator Bryan Avila, was scheduled for the Senate Community Affairs Committee on Tuesday, January 23, but was tabled. It has been rescheduled for Monday, 4 p.m.
Its companion bill, House Bill 1647, introduced by Representative Spencer Roach, has been referred to the House Regulatory Reform & Economic Subcommittee but has not yet been placed on the agenda.
The Florida Trust is engaging with stakeholders to amend bill language so it not only keeps communities safe, but also retains historic character vital to our communities. Specifically, there is concern that, as written, the bill may create missed opportunities for demolition mitigation. Demolition of historic resources could in turn negatively affect tourism, Main Street vitality and business development.
How you can help:
Reach out to the Senate Community Affairs Committee and ask them to amend the exemption language under Qualifying Structures and Buildings to match HB1647, exempting both buildings individually listed in the National Register of Historic places and also contributing structures or buildings within a National Register of Historic Places District.
3. Fully Fund the FY2025 Historic Preservation Special Category Grant List
The Florida's Division of Historical Resources Historic Preservation Grant program is crucial in safeguarding our historic sites, fostering community resilience and bolstering local economies. These grants are instrumental in supporting significant local, regional and statewide initiatives aimed at preserving historic and archaeological treasures, aiding major archaeological research endeavors and facilitating the development of noteworthy museum exhibits that illuminate Florida's rich history.
Green Gables, one of the sites that received Special Category Grant Funds during FY2024.
The Florida Historical Commission meticulously evaluates and ranks Special Category grants to compile the annual list, which is then reviewed and approved by the Florida Secretary of State before being submitted to the legislature for funding. This year’s grant list included 36 projects with a price tag of nearly $9.6 million.
Please reach out to your local lawmakers, or any you lawmakers you have a relationship with, and encourage them to fully fund the Special Category Grants for Fiscal Year 2025. Feel free to use our one-pager!
Stay tuned for updates on our advocacy efforts as the bill progresses through the legislative process. Don't forget to sign up for our advocacy newsletter to receive weekly briefings during Session!