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Preservation Action, Legislative Update
Volume 15, Number 34 – July 27, 2012

Sponsors Added to Historic Schools Act – More Needed

Last week we reported Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH) and Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO) introduced H.R. 6151, the Rehabilitation of Historic Schools Act in the House – the same bill that had been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) in October of 2011. Since then, several co-sponsors have signed on. (See list, right)

The bill simply amends the existing Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit by allowing the rehabilitation expenses of public educational facilities that partner with for-profit entities to qualify for the program.

With a great deal of discussion on the Hill about renewing expiring tax provisions, this is the kind of basic tweak to an existing program that enjoys broad bipartisan support. In fact, in November of last year, Sen. Webb (D-VA), Sen. Warner (D-VA), Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA), and former Governors Tim Kaine (D) and George Allen (R), both of whom are running for VA Senator, published an editorial in Politico enthusiastically supporting this legislation.

Preservation Action encourages its members to contact their Representatives and Senators to ask them to cosponsor this important legislation.

Talking Points
  • According to the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, 28 percent of all public K-12 schools were built before 1950. A recent study by the American Society of Civil engineers gave a “D” rating on the quality of our nation’s public school buildings.
  • In 2011, the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit leveraged more than $4 billion in private investment and helped create nearly 56,000 jobs.
  • Currently the only way for historic school buildings to be eligible for the historic tax credit is for them to be transferred to a private developer and switched to another use. This legislation would enable historic schools to be renovated – and remain in use as schools.

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