Here are some updates on our strategic advocacy priorities from the Capitol this week:
1. Establish a State Historic Tax Credit
Two days ago, the National Trust for Historic Preservation sent out an announcement in support of Senate Bill 1166 and HB 1183, the bills that, if passed, would introduce a state historic tax credit in Florida.
After nearly four decades of policy development, state legislatures — including Texas — have found that these incentives bring tangible, lasting benefits to their residents as well as older neighborhoods and communities. These incentives create high-wage local jobs during the construction phase and the resulting new spaces often serve as incubators for fledgling Main Street business. — National Trust for Historic Preservation
The bill 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 Senate Finance and Tax Committee, as well as its first hearing in the House.
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 credits would be in addition to the federal historic tax credit. Learn more.
It is very important this bill gets heard in the House.
Please reach out to Chairman McClain and ask him to put House Bill 1183 on the next Ways & Means agenda.
What else can I do?
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 Resiliency and Safe Structures Act
This week, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, the agency that has been tasked by Congress with advising state and local legislators on historic preservation voiced their concerns towards the Resiliency and Safe Structures Act.
ACHP Chair Sara Bronin noted that demolition is not the only resiliency option for non-conforming structures, and urged Florida legislators to reconsider the scope the bill.
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. The bill is now in the Senate Rules Committee but has not been scheduled to be heard.
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 House Local Administration, Federal Affairs & Special Districts Subcommittee, which has yet to be set on the agenda.
In the week ahead the Florida Trust will to continue to work with the sponsors and stakeholders to ensure all voices are heard, including the National Trust who recognized this is a pressing Preservation issue is Florida, but also the United States.
3. Fully Fund the FY2025 Historic Preservation Special Category Grant List
Field Manor Historic Home and Grove, one of the projects listed in the Department of Historical Resources FY2025 Historic Preservation Special Category Grants.
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. This year’s grant list included 36 projects with a price tag of nearly $9.6 million.
Funds for the grants were included in the Senate budget, but not the House. So your support is crucial!
The Florida Trust would like to thank The Coalition for Florida's Historic Places for their continued support and advocacy for the fulfillment of the Special Category Grant List. You can help, too!
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!