Making the Case
Government policies and decisions have a major impact on Virginia’s historic places. Preservation Virginia works with its partners and network of preservationists to build public support for identifying priority preservation issues and developing action strategies to ensure that Virginia’s historic places remain strong and economically sustainable for present and future generations.
At the Virginia General Assembly
On Friday, 16 October, the General Assembly recessed a historic Special Session. Convened on 18 August, legislators were called back to Richmond to adopt a budget that reflects the economic implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and social justice reforms responding to the protests this past summer and Governor Northam’s proposals.
In March, the General Assembly passed a budget that supported many of the items in Governor Northam’s Historic Justice and Equity Agenda and provided priority funding to the Department of Historic Resources to fill needed staff positions, re-establish the Underwater Archaeological Program and support expanded technological capacity. Most of those items were “unallotted” as the economic impacts of COVID pandemic were factored into the State’s economic forecasting.
During the Special Session, some funding was restored for the historic marker program, African American cemetery preservation and digitization of the Virginia African American History Trail. Governor Northam also proposed $2.5 million in funding to the City of Alexandria to expand the museum at the Freedom House and additional funds to the City of Richmond, County of Brunswick and others to support programs and sites related to African American history.
Other Special Session bills of note included:
SB 5047 Capitol Square Preservation Council; powers and duties, review and approval of plans for changes.
Summary: Capitol Square Preservation Council; powers and duties; review and approval of plans for changes to artifacts contained within the Capitol Building. Grants the Capitol Square Preservation Council the authority to review and approve all plans or proposals for alterations, improvements, additions, or renovations to, or other disposition of, any monuments, statuary, artwork, or other historical artifacts contained within the Capitol Building, including within the old and new Senate chambers, the old and new halls of the House of Delegates, and the Rotunda.
Passed Senate; House Referred to Committee on Rules on 9/17/20
HB 5030 Monuments and memorials for war veterans; authority of localities.
Summary: Monuments and memorials for war veterans; authority of localities. Changes the authority of a locality from the authority to “contextualize or cover” to the authority to “alter” a monument or memorial for war veterans located within the geographical limits of the locality, with the result that the locality has the authority to remove, relocate or alter such monument or memorial. The bill removes the current requirement that the locality publish notice of its intent to remove, relocate, contextualize or cover such monument or memorial in a newspaper having general circulation in the locality, allow a public hearing on the matter, and, if the governing body votes to remove the monument or memorial, offer, for a period of at least 30 days, the monument or memorial for relocation and placement to any museum, historical society, government or military battlefield. In addition, an existing enactment clause that excludes “a monument or memorial located on the property of a public institution of higher education within the City of Lexington” from the application of this law is repealed.
Passed House; Passed by indefinitely by Senate Local Government Committee with letter (14-Y 0-N)
Here’s a list of all bills and budget items we tracked from the General Assembly session during winter, 2020.
Our colleagues at the National Trust for Historic Preservation have put together some helpful analysis about the impact of the 2018 mid-term elections and how you can support the “Historic Tax Credit Enhancement Act.”
Thanks to all who have reached out to Delegates and Senators. You can still contact your legislators. Call and make an appointment to:
- Share information about a recent or upcoming HRTC project in their district and the analysis of impacts from the findings of the Baker Tilly and VCU CURA studies.
- Invite your Senator and Delegate to tour an HRTC project or a ribbon cutting— emphasize the number of jobs generated by the project, revitalization of the area, and number of occupants of the completed building.
- Email any feedback to Preservation Virginia CEO Elizabeth Kostelny.
You can support Preservation Virginia’s statewide work and be a voice for historic places.