The 2018 Session of the Maryland General Assembly came to a close on Monday, April 9, 2018. Here at Preservation Maryland, the last day of Session known as Sine Die, marks the end of a busy three months of advocating for sound preservation policy. We are happy to report that we and our colleagues were able to accomplish some significant advances for preservation in Maryland:

Bills that passed

HB1454 – Heritage Structure Rehabilitation Tax Credit – Commercial Rehabilitations – Affordable Housing

Thanks to the hard work of Senator Bill Ferguson and Delegate Alonzo Washington, the bill’s sponsors, several improvements were made to the Maryland Heritage Structures Rehabilitation Tax Credit. There will now be a 5% additional credit for large commercial tax credit projects that are awarded the Competitive Commercial credit if the project also results in affordable housing. Specifically, the project will need to be in receipt of a Low Income Housing Tax Credit to qualify for the expanded state historic tax credit. This additional credit will incentivize the reuse of historic buildings to address Maryland’s pressing need for affordable housing. Additionally, this bill allows for the use of the Historic Tax Credit on multiple structures that are functionally related, making it easier to tackle campus-wide projects such as Prince George’s County’s Glenn Dale Hospital.

A significant amendment was made during session that also now requires that any unclaimed credits in the Competitive Commercial program (ex. a project receives credits but does not move forward) will now return to the program and will increase the amount that the Maryland Historical Trust may award in the following year. Up until now, that funding would revert to the state’s general fund. This simple change could provide nearly $1M annually in additional credits.

HB877 – Burial Sites – Access, Required Consultation, and Tax Credit

Sponsored by Delegate Tony Knotts, this bill represents the first major legislation proposed in Maryland to provide comprehensive burial sites protection since the early 1990s. In addition to providing certain protections for burial sites, this bill authorizes municipalities to establish a local tax credit for property owners to maintain and repair burial sites on their property.

SB983 – Maryland Historical Society Funding

This bill, sponsored by President of the Senate Mike Miller, provides the Maryland Historical Society with $250,000 annually from funds distributed to the Maryland State Arts Council beginning in FY20. The Maryland Historical Society will use the funds to establish a grant fund for small museums all over Maryland.

Since 2010, the Maryland Historical Trust’s Museum Assistance Grant Fund has gone unfunded. With the funding provided for with this bill, the Maryland Historical Society will address this absence of state funded museum grants by providing much needed funding to museums across the state for conservation of collections, exhibits, and other educational activities.

Bond Bill Funding for the Victory Crane at the Baltimore Museum of Industry

The Baltimore Museum of Industry received $225,000 in funding for maintenance and repairs to their iconic WWII-era Bethlehem Steel shipyard crane. This bond bill funding will go to replace deteriorated structural hardware, strip and sandblast the entire structure, and apply weather-resistant industrial paint. The repaired crane will now be able to continue to serve as a striking reminder of Baltimore’s contribution to the nation’s maritime and industrial heritage. Preservation Maryland is extremely supportive of this project, having selected the crane as one of its annual Six-to-Fix historic preservation projects in late 2017, and provided written testimony and sustained advocacy in support of the bond bill funding.

Joint Chairman’s Report on Maryland Historical Trust Easements

Included in the 2018 Joint Chairman’s Report was language requiring the Maryland Historical Trust to comment on the history, administration and future of their expansive historic easement program. For years the program has been chronically understaffed and the JCR report will provide the agency the opportunity to explain the role of the program and opportunities to make their work more effective in light of declining state support. Preservation Maryland intends on working closely with the Trust during the development of the report and engaging members of the General Assembly in the process.


Bills that Did not pass

SB481/HB954 – Heritage Structure Rehabilitation Tax Credit – Reserve Fund – Mandated Appropriation

SB481/HB 954 would have increased the funding to the Heritage Structure Rehabilitation Tax credit to $15M. This would have been a $6M increase from the current starvation-level funding at $9M for the entire state. Although the tax credit is a proven community revitalization tool and job creator, legislators failed to move this commonsense funding increase. Preservation Maryland will continue to push for more funding next session, and every session thereafter until the program is fully funded.

HB1408 – Historic Ellicott City Workgroup on Preservation and Flooding

Preservation Maryland originally strongly opposed to HB1408 that would have allowed a local legislative body to authorize a “deviation from historic preservation standards” within any historic district that had suffered from non-tidal flooding that resulted in a demonstrable threat to life and safety or a death. Although the intent of the bill was good and was intended to only impact historic Ellicott City, we could not support such a vaguely worded piece of legislation that could have potentially opened up historic districts to irreparable deviations.

Preservation Maryland was able to work with the bill’s sponsor, Delegate Robert Flanagan, to amend the bill into a study bill that would have established a workgroup to study historic preservation and flooding in Ellicott City. Unfortunately, the bill was not passed before Session ended.

Highlights for historic preservation Funding

Year-round advocacy efforts continue

Preservation Maryland’s advocacy efforts don’t stop on Sine Die. Moving forward, the organization intends on building on the success of the 2018 session to build an even greater constituency for preservation and the policies and funding that makes this critical work possible. In the next couple of months the organization will begin to draft potential legislation for the 2019 session and hold meetings with the Hogan Administration to advocate for funding in the 2020 budget which they will begin to put together in the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned and stay connected as Preservation Maryland gears up for 2019 and beyond.