News this week includes a pressing need for advocacy of the Main street Historical Tourism and Revitalization Act, Resiliency and Safe Structures Act heard in House and Senate committees
Week four of the legislative session has been impactful: SB 1526, introducing the Resiliency and Safe Structures Act was amended in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee on January 29. This amendment reflected our advocacy focus of adding National Register Historic Districts to the list of exemptions under the provisions of the Senate bill. Its companion bill was also heard in the House where it passed favorably on Thursday, February 1. Additionally, House Bill 1183, introducing the Main Street Historical Tourism and Revitalization Act, received a new co-sponsor, Representative Michelle Salzman.
Here are some updates from our strategic legislative focus areas at the Capitol this week:
1. Amend the Resiliency and Safe Structures Act
Thanks to the efforts of historic preservation advocates, Senate Bill 1526, Resiliency and Safe Structures Act, was amended during its second committee stop by Senator Brian Avila on Tuesday, January 30, exempting buildings contributing to National Register-listed historic districts. Previously, the bill only provided an exemption for individually listed resources.
“I wanted to thank Senator Avila for his efforts to balance the intention to secure the safety for our communities, while also protecting the historic places that make our communities unique and special,” said Melissa Wyllie, Florida Trust CEO & President. “The amendment today is a step in that direction.”
Its companion bill, House Bill 1647, introduced by Representative Spencer Roach, passed the Regulatory Reform & Economic Development Subcommittee. An amendment regarding a severability clause was added to the bill, and Rep. Roach informed the Committee he intends to work with stakeholders to reach a compromise, hoping to find a balance for historic preservation in Florida. It will be heard next in the Local Administration, Federal Affairs & Special Districts Subcommittee.
2. Establish a Florida Historic Tax Credit
Two weeks ago, 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 Florida Trust has been engaging with legislators to promote its scheduling in the Finance and Tax Committee.
Its companion bill, House Bill 1183, has received a new co-sponsor: Representative Michelle Salzman of Escambia County. The House Bill is currently in the House Ways & Means Committee, but it has not been added to the committee agenda.
We need your help getting the bill added to the agenda! Please reach out to Chairman McClain and ask him to put House Bill 1183 on the next Ways & Means 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 a 30 percent tax credit for eligible costs within the official boundaries on an active, certified Florida Main Street community. Both of these credits would be in additional to the federal historic tax credit. Learn more.
How you can help:
2. 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.
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.
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!