Preservation Action, Legislative Update
Volume 18, Number 14, April 10, 2015 →
Public Lands Threatened by Senate Vote
Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Sen. Lisa Murwski (R-AK), introduced an amendment to the Senate’s non-binding budget resolution, that supports the sale or exchange of federally owned public lands to state governments. Senate Amendment 838 passed 51-49, with Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) joining democrats in opposing the amendment. While budget resolution amendments are non-binding and carry no real weight, the support of this amendment by a majority of Senators is a significant threat to our public lands and could be a signal that consideration of such bills are a priority for Congress in the future.
The amendment encourages congress to support the “sell, or transfer to, or exchange with, a state or local government any Federal land that is not within the boundaries of a National Park, National Preserve, or National Monument “. This means the amendment would allow states to take over, transfer and sell public, federal lands, including National Forests, wildlife refuges, and wilderness areas. State control of these federal lands could make it easier for energy development, like mining and drilling to occur. Eleven western states have already introduced legislation in their state legislature that requests the sale or transfer of federally owned, public lands to the state. So far, these bills have not gained much traction because it would require federal approval.
In response to the amendment, Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) introduced Senate amendment 1024 to the budget resolution, which would block the selling or transferring of public lands as a deficit reducing tactic. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) cosponsored the amendment.
Preservation Action will continue to be your voice on the hill as this ongoing threat to our public lands continues to develop. The Wilderness Society is currently circulating a petition to urge Congress to protect our public lands and oppose any attempt to sell off public lands for development. Follow the link below to take action and sign the petition!
ACHP Submits Comment to Senate Tax Working Group regarding the HTC
The Advisory Council for Historic Preservation (ACHP) submitted comment to the Senate tax reform working group on Community Development and Infrastructure in support of the Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit. Currently the Senate Finance Committee is seeking public comment on its bipartisan effort to reform the tax-code. Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Member, Ron Wyden (D-OR), created several working groups to examine and solicit feedback on current tax law. The Historic Tax Credit (HTC) will be reviewed by the Community Development working group chaired by Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) and co-chaired by Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO). The Working Groups will wrap up their deliberations and submit reports to the Chairman in May. Read ACHP’s comments below.
Still Time for Your Organization to Sign Letter Supporting Historic Tax Credits
Preservation Action along with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers, and the Historic Tax Credit Coalition are circulating a sign-on letter for organizations and businesses to demonstrate their support of the Historic Tax Credit. So far more than 160 organizations and businesses have signed, let’s keep the momentum going. Please join us in standing up for the historic tax credit. Add your organization’s name to our sign-on letter no later than April 13, 2015. To ensure your support is noted, simply email Carl Wolf at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Senate Working Group Letter” in the subject line.
Dedicated Fund for Historic Preservation Threatened in Connecticut
A dedicated fund that goes toward historic preservation, land conservation, and affordable housing is under threat in Connecticut. Connecticut Gov. Daniel Malloy’s proposed budget would divert revenue collected from the Community Investment Act that normally goes to historic preservation, land conservation, and affordable housing projects, to the state’s general fund. The Community Investment Act was established by the legislature to provide additional funds for preservation. The fund collects approximately $13 million each year from a $40 charge placed on property transactions.
The Community Investment Act has funded 1100 projects in 165 towns, giving back a total of $133 million to Connecticut since 2005. Historic preservationists are joined by land conservationists, affordable housing advocates, and farming group advocates to oppose Gov. Malloy’s plan to empty the dedicated fund. Advocates have launched a website to educate people on what the Community Investment Act does and why it’s important.
Help Save Historic Trust Funding in New Jersey
In November New Jersey voters approved an amendment that directs funds from corporate tax revenues to the preservation of open space, farmland, and historic resources. Since then, how the funds would be allocated has been a source of contention. A bill currently being considered by the state legislature would only allocate 3% of total revenue to historic preservation grants, leaving only $2.1 million for historic preservation. New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie’s budget proposal allocates just $1.4 million for historic preservation grants. The New Jersey Historic Trust has not been awarded any grant money for historic preservation in the last 5 years. Preservation New Jersey argues that these allocations are simply not enough for any meaningful historic preservation grant program, and estimates that the program needs at least $10 million annually, so the backlog can begin to be addressed.
Your voice is needed to ensure funding for historic preservation is saved! Preservation New Jersey continues to advocate for historic preservation funding and set up a page outlining everything you can do to help, including who to contact and a sample letter to send your state legislators.
Stories From Around the States
New York: “City Council to Introduce New Landmarking Bill“
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