Posts Tagged Maryland General Assembly
A special session of the General Assembly will begin on Monday. This Wednesday Governor Martin O’Malley, joined by Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch, laid out the outline of the proposed budget plan. This special session is to finish the work left from the regular General Assembly session. As you likely know, the session ended in April without passage of a budget that would have prevented the so-called “doomsday budget,” resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts from a wide spectrum of programs. Among these cuts would have been the Sustainable Communities Tax Credit for commercial projects.
We are happy to say that funding for the Sustainable Communities Tax Credit was included in the plan laid out on Wednesday. The Tax Credit is considered Maryland’s most effective historic preservation and community revitalization program, resulting in the rehabilitation of over 4,000 historic residential and commercial buildings while leveraging $1.6 billion of private investment. Losing this funding would be devastating to preservation efforts in Maryland.
So what can you do to help make sure this money stays in place during the special session? Let Governor O’Malley, President Mike Miller, and Speaker Michael Busch know that you appreciate their support of the Tax Credit and let your representatives know how important the Tax Credit is to Maryland’s historic resources. Please take a few moments to send them a note or call their offices. There are lots of issues on the table in the special session and we need to make sure our voices in support historic preservation are heard.
The preservation movement in America really began in 1853 with the Mt. Vernon Ladies Association’s effort to save George Washington’s home. Of course, at that time there were no state or federal programs or laws for preserving of our new nation’s cultural or architectural heritage, even Mt. Vernon.
Thankfully, in response to international efforts to preserve historic sites like the Coliseum in Rome, things began to change in the 1930’s leading to the establishment of the nation’s first municipal historic district in Charleston, South Carolina. Eventually the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) was enacted in 1966, which created the National Register of Historic Places and State Historic Preservation Offices and the system for identifying and protecting historic buildings and sites.
Maryland has long been a leader in historic preservation. In fact, the Maryland Historical Trust was established five years before the NHPA in response to lobby efforts by the Society of the Preservation of Maryland Antiquities, now know as Preservation Maryland, to create a quasi-state agency dedicated to preserving historical and cultural resources. But while today the preservation of historic buildings and sites is widely recognized as important to the public welfare, with an established legal and regulatory framework, it is often seen as secondary to education and other social services, or even economic development interests.
Historic preservation is vital to understanding our shared history, maintaining a sense of place, revitalizing older neighborhoods and Main Street commercial districts, creating sustainable communities, and plays an important role in our culture and economy. Accordingly, every five years states are required to produce preservation plans in order to receive federal funding for preservation programs. Unfortunately, the Maryland Historical Trust’s PreserveMaryland planning initiative has stalled at critical time when we need to be demonstrating the importance and benefits of historic preservation when competing for shrinking state revenues.
One of my goals for PreserveMaryland is for the Maryland Historical Trust and Maryland Department of Planning to develop an annual “State of Preservation” report, which both documents and illustrates the impact of the state funding and other programs on preserving are Maryland’s historical and cultural resources. It could be used to more effectively educate lawmakers and empower preservation advocates in the efforts to gain support for the Maryland Historical Trust and its programs, like the Maryland State Arts Council and Department of Business and economic Development do so successfully.
Earlier this week the Maryland General Assembly convened in Annapolis for its 430th legislative session. It’s critical for those who care about the important role of preservation in their lives and communities to make your voices heard. The Governor’s budget is due to be released on January 18. We’ll let you know how preservation interests fare and hope to see you in Annapolis!