Appalachian Forest Heritage Area is one step closer to national recognition, thanks to the introduction in the Senate of the S. 401 Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area Act of 2017. Introduced by U.S Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the bill would designate the 18 county region in the highlands of West Virginia and western Maryland as a National Heritage Area.
“We are incredibly excited to have our designation bill introduced in the Senate this early in the Congressional session,” said Phyllis Baxter, Executive Director of Appalachian Forest Heritage Area. “We thank all four of our Senators for their support and look forward to movement on our bill as the session progresses.”
Appalachian Forest Heritage Area (AFHA) has been seeking National Heritage Area designation since approval of their Feasibility Study by the National Park Service in 2006. Designation as a National Heritage Area will bring national recognition of the importance of the Appalachian Forest Heritage story, as well as technical assistance through the National Park Service and funding for local projects. AFHA works only with willing partners, and designation as a National Heritage Area does not change any land management and does not add any new regulations.
Appalachian Forest Heritage Area (AFHA) has been working for over 15 years to promote rural community development through heritage tourism and forest conservation. As a heritage area, AFHA works across county and state lines with communities, agencies and non-profit groups. AFHA builds partnerships with a wide variety of interest groups, including forest industry, public lands agencies, and environmental groups, historic and cultural sites, and tourism and community development efforts. Recent accomplishments include the Appalachian Forest Discovery Center in downtown Elkins, new on-line thematic story map tours, and conservation awareness outreach. AFHA sponsors a 38 member AmeriCorps program which provides assistance to local site partners on conservation, community development, heritage tourism, and historic preservation projects. For more information about Appalachian Forest Heritage Area, see www.appalachianforest.us , call 304-636-6182 or email email@example.com.
For the Senate press release, see https://www.capito.senate.gov/news/press-releases/capito-manchin-cardin-van-hollen-introduction-legislation-to-designate-appalachian-forest-heritage-area
West Virginia has 92 commercial and mixed-use historic districts ripe for revitalization – yet developers choose to invest in neighboring states instead of our downtowns due to West Virginia’s uncompetitive 10% historic rehabilitation tax credit. Neighboring states, including Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Virginia, all have 25% historic rehabilitation tax credits. Since 2002, each of these three states has created more than 44,000 jobs in the redevelopment of historic buildings, generating more than $3 billion in total income for each state. In the same period, West Virginia’s 10% tax credit has created just 3,529 jobs, and $170 million in total income.
The state must take action to remain economically competitive with surrounding states. An increase in the current state historic rehabilitation tax credit from 10% to 25% would make West Virginia’s historic commercial districts more attractive to developers, spurring private investment.
There are a number of ways you can support the proposal to encourage redevelopment of West Virginia’s historic building, you can contact your state legislators and sign a petition. Learn more by visiting https://revitalizewvdowntowns.com.
The coalition’s members include the Abandoned Property Coalition, the American Institute of Architects WV Chapter, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Wheeling National Heritage Area, and private businesses. If your organization is interested in joining the coalition, contact PAWV at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how.
President-Elect Trump and Speaker Ryan have prioritized moving tax reform legislation in the first one hundred days of the next Congress which begins in January. A tax reform package could move quickly through Congress by way of the budget reconciliation process, which only requires a simple majority for passage in the Senate, instead of the typically needed 60 votes to cut off debate.
Ways and Means Republican Committee members will be meeting on December 14th-15th to agree on big picture elements of tax reform with a goal to have a draft bill to review in early January.
We expect tax reform legislation will follow Speaker Ryan’s “A Better Way” blue print, released earlier this year. This document recommends eliminating tax credits and deductions, which would include the Historic Tax Credit (HTC), the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC).
The Historic Tax Credit is in grave danger of elimination in tax reform. Historic Tax Credit advocacy is urgently needed, both in the near term and throughout 2017. The Historic Tax Credit (HTC) is the most significant federal financial commitment to historic preservation. Over the last 36 years, the credit has created 2.3 million jobs, leveraged $117 billion in investment, and rehabilitated more than 41,250 buildings—all while generating enough in federal revenue to pay for itself.
The Historic Tax Credit Coalition, National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Trust Community Investment Corporation and allied organizations, like the Preservation Alliance of WV, are moving quickly to increase lobbying capacity. However, there is no substitute for the advocacy that you can provide. Your assistance is critical!
We are hopeful that if a sufficient number of Senators and Representatives convey their support for the HTC to party leadership and to members of the tax writing committees, the Historic Tax Credit can be retained as an important part of a reformed tax code.
Contact House Members of Congress ASAP– Call (during office hours) or email the offices of your Members of Congress before December 14th and ask to speak to tax staff or staff contacts you have in offices.
Since there are no West Virginia Representatives on the House Committee on Ways and Means, ask that they “Please contact Chairman Kevin Brady and other members of the House Ways and Means Committee to explicitly state your support of the Historic Tax Credit when reviewing draft Tax Reform Bill.”
1. HTC Fact Sheet and Key Points to share with legislators:
2. HTC Maps
a. State and Congressional Maps with Economic Data
b. Interactive Mapping Tool developed by Novogradac and Company
How to Contact Your Member of Congress
To locate the name and phone number of your House Representative or Senators go to:http://www.sos.wv.gov/public-services/contacts/Pages/federaloffices.aspx
Alternatively, call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-225-3121 (during office hours) and asked to be connected to your Senators’ or House Member’s DC office. Once connected to the office, you should identify yourself as a constituent, and either asked to be connected with tax staff or ask for the email of tax staff to communicate your advocacy. Then follow-up on your request.
Historic Tax Credit Improvement Act
This Historic Tax Credit Improvement Act (HTCIA) provides several reform options to enhance the Historic Tax Credit as part of a reformed tax code. While the opportunity to co-sponsor this bill has past, the legislation reflects the reform ideas that have broad political support and could be included in a tax reform package.
· The House version of the bill (H.R. 3846) has attracted strong bi-partisan support on the Ways and Means Committee and presently has 53 Members of Congress supporting the bill.
· The Senate version of the bill, sponsored by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), introduced last March has 7 bi-partisan co-sponsors.
News and Notes
Subscribe to our mailing list to receive e-news updates on historic preservation news and events in West Virginia.