8th District – Representative Schrier
Each year, Washington Trust staff members and volunteers travel to Washington, DC, to advocate for historic preservation programs and funding at the federal level. Things looked a bit different this year—as so many things did—and we instead met with our legislators virtually.
The Washington Trust assembled a cohort 32 strong of citizen advocates from across the state, and we were thrilled that the virtual format not only allowed for more attendees, but that most of the advocates in the meetings were constituents of the representatives with whom we met.
Our group, joined by fellow preservation advocates from states across the country, met with our state’s representatives and senators the week of March 8 to emphasize the value of preservation to Washington’s communities. Preservation Advocacy Week is our chance to speak directly to the decision-makers who can enact real change to federal historic preservation policy and budgets.
This year, our meeting topics revolved around:
- Updates to the Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit – Last year, there was proposed legislation to improve the federal tax credit, and we spoke to our representatives about either reintroducing a similar bill or including the tax credit updates in a larger, infrastructure-focused bill. The changes we proposed would encourage more historic building reuse and more redevelopment in small, midsize, and rural communities by making the credit accessible to smaller projects. In particular, smaller projects would be able to access a 30% tax credit (rather than the standard 20%), and the total project expenditures would not need to be as high to take advantage of the credit in the first place. The changes would also make the credit easier to use for nonprofit organizations.
- Full funding of the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) – The HPF is authorized for up to $150 million but has never actually been fully funded! This year, we asked for full funding which supports our State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) that process thousands of important reviews and provide pass-through funding to local communities as well as our Tribal Historic Preservation Offices (THPOs). We also encouraged the idea of permanent reauthorization of the Fund, for guaranteed preservation support. We noted the important detail that the HPF is actually funded by off-shore oil leases, so full funding does not increase taxes.
- Importance of Main Street – We were thrilled to be joined by several local Main Street directors who were able to convey the urgent need for the support of small business in COVID-19 recovery. They also conveyed the potential positive impacts the tax credit improvements would have, especially for small- and mid-sized Main Streets.
- Thank you for the Maritime Washington National Heritage Area! (MW-NHA) – It’s been in place for about two years now, but the feat of establishing the MW-NHA was certainly not a small one, and we love to go into our representative meetings with a “thank you.” We also were able to give updates about how our planning process and public outreach is going.
Thank you to the many, many supporters who joined us (you can see a full list on our Preservation Advocacy Week page!) and to the many more who contact their representatives—local, statewide, or federal—to support historic preservation!
A special thank you to our Preservation Advocacy Week sponsors!