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  • Writer's pictureFlorida Trust

Legislative Session — Week 8: Preparing for Nationwide Historic Preservation Advocacy

The U.S. Capitol Building. Photo: Preservation Action.

This is an important time for advocacy not only at the state, but also at the federal level, as vital preservation tools are at risk. Serving as statewide coordinators for the Preservation Action Advocacy Week, March 4-8, we are setting up meetings with federal legislators and leading a delegation of preservationists to the nation’s capital to advocate for historic preservation in Washington, D.C. Here’s a closer look at what we will be working towards.


The Historic Preservation Fund is key to supporting the preservation of historically and culturally significant sites across the nation. It helps states and tribes fulfill their federally mandated obligations to protect and preserve important historic and archeological sites by funding 59 State Historic Preservation Offices, over 200 Tribal Historic Preservation Offices and critical preservation grant programs.


Reauthorized six times since 1976, the HPF’s authorization lapsed on September 30, 2023. A lack of Congressional authorization complicates the funding mechanism for the HPF, and a lapse in funds could stall revitalization projects across the country and interrupt review of federal, state and tribal projects.


Additionally, current HPF authorization levels do not reflect existing preservation needs. When the HPF was established, Congress authorized it at $150 million – adjusted for inflation, that amount equals over $800 million in 2024. Congress itself has recognized the need for additional funding, as highlighted by the fact that FY 2022 and 2023 appropriations exceeded current authorization limits.


The Florida Trust joins historic preservation advocates from all over the country to support H.R. 3350, the bipartisan Historic Preservation Fund Reauthorization Act, led by the Historic Preservation Caucus co-chairs, Representatives Mike Turner (R-OH) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), which would reauthorize the HPF for 10 years and increase current limits to $250 million annually. There is currently no companion bill in the Senate; we support its introduction and encourage legislators to sponsor one.


To ensure adequate funding for historic preservation, we also request $225 million in appropriations for FY 2025. The funds would be divided between SHPOs, THPOs and critical preservation programs such as the African American Civil Rights Grants and the Save America’s Treasures Program.


How you can help!

Reach out to your U.S. legislators and request that they:

  • Cosponsor H.R. 3350

  • Introduce or co-sponsor a companion to H.R. 3350 in the Senate

  • Support the appropriation of $225 million to HPF for FY2025


Find your representatives in the House and the Senate.


The Federal Historic Tax Credit helps promote preservation by offering incentives for private investment in historic preservation. As a 20% credit applied to qualified rehabilitation costs for certified historic structures, it represents the largest federal investment in historic preservation.

 

Since its inception, it has contributed to the rehabilitation of more than 48,000 buildings, spurring nearly $199 billion in private investment and creating three million American jobs. It has also consistently returned more to the Treasury than it costs: in 2021, the HTC generated $42.9 billion in federal tax revenue from the $37.6 billion in federal tax credits, according to the National Park Service.

 

Over the last decade, however, HTCs have lost about 25% of their value due to inflation, rising interest rates, unfavorable IRS guidance and more. Improving the HTC is needed now more than ever – it will encourage more building reuse and more redevelopment in small, midsize and rural communities. After all, most projects benefit communities in need: for example, 78% of all HTC projects in 2022 benefited economically distressed areas.

 

The Florida Trust supports H.R. 1785 and S. 639, which introduce the Historic Tax Credit Growth & Opportunity Act. HTC-GO will increase the HTC from 20% to 30% for projects with less than $2.5 million in qualified expenses, elevate more buildings to be eligible for the credit, increase the value of the HTC, and making it easier for nonprofits to partner with developers, in turn facilitating reuse for schools, community health centers and affordable housing.

 

How you can help!

  • Reach out to your legislators and request that they co-sponsor or support the HTC-GO Act.


Find your representatives in the House and the Senate.

 

The Congressional Historic Preservation Caucus was established in 2003 as a bipartisan effort to support and encourage historic preservation. Co-chaired by Representatives Turner (R-OH) and Blumenauer (D-OR), the Caucus serves as a forum for members to discuss ways to protect and revitalize America’s historic places. It supports important initiatives like the Federal Historic Tax Credit and champions legislation that advances historic preservation nationwide.


The only legislator from Florida that has joined the Caucus is Bill Posey (R). The Florida Trust hopes that additional lawmakers will become members in the near future.


How you can help!

  • Contact your legislators and encourage them to join the Congressional Historic Preservation Caucus. Let them know that historic preservation is important in your community, and that you would like them to represent it at the national level.


Find your representatives in the House and the Senate.

 

Historic Preservation Advocacy in Florida


The Old Gadsden Courthouse is one of the projects listed in the Department of Historical Resources FY2025 Historic Preservation Special Category Grants. If funded, the courthouse will receive critical roof repairs and will be able to have its cupola windows restored.

 

While preparing for its Washington, D.C., visit, the Florida Trust is also continuing its advocacy for preservation in Florida.


As we enter into the later part of Session, it is vitally important that we continue to support full funding for the Florida's Division of Historical Resources Historic Preservation Grant program.

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. Learn more.


Help us secure funding in the final conference budget to ensure these historic resources receive much-needed financial assistance. As a reminder, we are asking lawmakers to fully fund all projects on this year's grant list: 36 projects with a price tag of nearly $9.6 million.


How you can help!

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. 





The Eden Roc Miami Beach resort. Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images.

Senate Bill 1526, sponsored by Senator Bryan Avila, which introduces the Resiliency and Safe Structures Act, has been heard on the Senate and passed its first vote. An amendment to remove the unsafe structures clause, introduced by Senator Shevrin Jones, failed.


A similar amendment has been introduced by Representative Fabián Basabe to its companion House Bill 1647, sponsored by Representative Spencer Roach. The bill has not been heard yet in the House.

As a reminder, our earlier effort to amend the bills was successful, adding important exemptions to resources contributing to National Register of Historic Places Districts. 


We continue to work with constituents and legislators to address concerns and ask for additional amendments to the bill which would further protect Florida’s historic places.


How you can help!

  • Reach out to your legislators and let them know how SB1526 and HB1647 might impact your community. Find your legislators here.


This week, we continued advocating for the value and importance of creating a state historic tax credit in Florida. As a reminder, Senate Bill 1166 and House Bill 1183 introduce the Main Street Act, which 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.


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 (SB 1166, HB 1183). Find your legislators here.


Stay tuned for updates on our advocacy efforts as session winds down!

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