The Legislative Session's third week has been lively, with committee hearings, The Florida Trust’s Advocacy Day and hosting our legislative reception where legislators met with key stakeholders from across the state.
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:
Advocacy Day at the Capitol & Annual Legislative Reception
On Tuesday, January 23, Florida Trust Board members and staff, along with fellow advocates for historic preservation congregated in Tallahassee for advocacy day, meeting with legislators to promote historic preservation advocacy and discuss key legislative priorities.
In the evening, Florida Trust held its Annual Legislative Reception at the Florida Trust House. Legislators, preservationists from around the state and the Florida Trust team had the opportunity to mingle in the 1910 Queen Anne house and sample delicacies from Florida counties represented in the Department of Historical Resources Special Category Grants list.
Strategic Priorities Update
Here are some updates from our strategic focus areas at the Capitol this week:
From left: Florida Trust Board Trustees Melissa Dunklin and Laura Bessinger-Morse attend the Senate Community Affairs Committee meeting with Immediate Past President Jenny Wolfe.
1. Establish a Florida Historic Tax Credit
Last week, Senate Bill 1166, Main Street Historical Tourism and Revitalization Act, passed unanimously in its first stop in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee. Since then, the Trust has been engaging with legislators to promote its scheduling in the Senate Finance and Tax Committee.
Its companion bill, House Bill 1183, 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 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.
How you can help:
Please reach out to your local lawmakers, or any lawmakers you have a relationship with and encourage them to support the Main Street Historical Tourism and Revitalization Act. Specifically, ask them to join 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
Following weeks of advocacy outreach, Senate Bill 1526, Resiliency and Safe Structures Act, was introduced by Senator Bryan Avila in the Senate Community Affairs Committee on Monday, January 22.
During the committee hearing, advocates from across the state - including the Florida Trust - presented their concerns regarding the bill. Through this collaborative work, and a unified call to amend the bill from stakeholders across the state, an amendment was filed to the Senate bill on Thursday. These amendments will be heard next week at the bill's next committee stop: the Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
“We believe it is possible to have safe buildings in our communities and to safeguard our unique historic places,” said Florida Trust Board President Mike Cosden. “If passed, this legislation would allow, with no preservation board review, demolition of historic structures throughout the state.”
Miami Design Preservation League Executive Director Daniel Ciraldo shared how the bill would impact irreplaceable historic treasures in Florida like the Art Deco District. Miami Beach City Commissioner Alex Fernandez stressed the economic value of historic preservation, both locally and statewide pointing out that historic districts contribute to both the cultural landscape, but also are a significant contributor to the state's economy.
After hearing testimony from opponents and a discussion among the committee focusing on the importance of property rights, the bill passed and will be heard next - including the recently filed amendment - in the Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
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 committee agenda.
How you can help:
Reach out to the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee and ask them to accept the amended exemption language under Qualifying Structures and Buildings to match HB 1647, 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.
Historic Tampa Theatre, one of the projects listed in the FY2025 Historic Preservation Special Category Grants.
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 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!