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

The General Assembly adjourned Sine Die on March 1, 2021.  This completes the 2021 Regular Session and Special Session I.  The Governor must take action by March 31, 2021 on those bills which passed both chambers of the General Assembly.  The General Assembly will reconvene on April 7, 2021 to consider vetoes and amendments recommended by Governor Northam.   

The House and Senate budget conference committee produced a budget conference report that reconciled the competing budget bills.  Both the House and Senate agreed to the report prior to the close of session.  Budget amendments of interest retained in the conference report are included below.  The budget conference report is subject to gubernatorial action like any other piece of legislation.     

Preservation Virginia’s bill list is curtailed in this action alert – only priority bills that passed the General Assembly are included here. Additional bills under review are available on Preservation Virginia’s website in the legislative archive.  

Preservation Virginia will send out another Legislative Update after the April 7th reconvened session.  If action is necessary in the meantime, you will be notified through a separate alert.  

Budget Update  

Before Adjourning Sine Die, the House and Senate agreed to a conference report including the following amendments to the budget bill:  

Farmland Preservation Fund – This amendment provides an additional $750,000 the second year from the general fund for the Virginia Farmland Preservation Fund. 

Underwater Archaeology Program – This amendment restores $159,479 the second year from the general fund for the Department of Historic Resources to establish an underwater archaeology program.

Loudoun Freedom Center – This amendment provides $255,000 the second year from the general fund for the County of Loudoun to provide support to the Loudoun Freedom Center for its activities related to the African American Museum and History Education.

Carver Price Legacy Museum – This amendment provides $570,000 from the general fund the second year to Appomattox County for renovations at the Carver Price Legacy Museum.

River Farm – This amendment provides $2.0 million the second year from the general fund to support the purchase of  River Farm in Alexandria by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority for conservation and maintenance as a publicly-accessible historic site.

Historic Property Catalogue – This amendment provides $250,000 to the Department of Historic Resources for the expansion of Virginia’s historical property catalog to include underrepresented African American and indigenous communities. Included in these amounts is $110,000 to support one new FTE, $100,000 for a grant program to provide paid internships in partnership with Virginia’s HBCU’s and to conduct fieldwork, and $40,000 for cultural data enrichments and database enhancements for the Virginia Cultural Resources Information System.

Conservation

HB 1836 Natural Resources, Secretary of; changes name to the Secretary of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Patron:  Plum

Summary:  Renames the Secretary of Natural Resources as the Secretary of Natural and Cultural Resources. The bill also designates the Secretary as the Chief Resilience Officer and removes the Virginia Museum of Natural History from the purview of the Secretary.

Status: Passed Both Chambers

PVA Position: SUPPORT

 

SB 1290 – ConserveVirginia program; established. 

Patron:  Mason

Summary:  Establishes in the Department of Conservation and Recreation a data-driven Geographical Information Systems model to prioritize potential conservation areas across the Commonwealth that would provide quantifiable benefits to the citizens of Virginia, known as ConserveVirginia. Aspects of the program include (i) the synthesis of multiple mapped data inputs, divided into categories, each representing a different overarching conservation value, and periodic revision of such values; (ii) access to the model by the public and all state and federal agencies; and (iii) incorporation of the model into acquisition or grant decisions when appropriate. The bill requires the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation to report on the success of the program and incorporate the program into needs assessments for expenditures from the Virginia Land Conservation Fund.

Status:  Passed Both Chambers; Governor’s Action Deadline 11:59 p.m., March 31, 2021

PVA Position: SUPPORT

 

Conservation Easements 

 

HB 1760 – Conservation easements; certain easements be liberally construed in favor of purpose which created.

Patron:   Webert

Summary: Provides that an easement held pursuant to the Virginia Conservation Easement Act or the Open-Space Land Act or by the Virginia Land Conservation Foundation be liberally construed in favor of achieving the conservation purposes for which it was created. 

Status: Passed Both Chambers; Governor’s Action Deadline 11:59 p.m., March 31, 2021

PVA Position:  SUPPORT

 

SB 1199 – Conservation easements; construction. 

Patron:   Petersen

Summary: Provides that an easement held pursuant to the Virginia Conservation Easement Act or the Open-Space Land Act be liberally construed in favor of achieving the conservation purposes for which it was created. 

Status: Passed Both Chambers; Governor’s Action Deadline 11:59 p.m., March 31, 2021

PVA Position: SUPPORT

 

Derelict Properties

 

HB 1969Administration of blighted and derelict properties; modifies definition of “qualifying locality.”

Patron:   Carr

Summary: Modifies the definition of “qualifying locality” to include any locality with a score of 100 or higher on the fiscal stress index, as published by the Department of Housing and Community Development in July 2020. Under current law, a qualifying locality is one with a score of 107 or higher on the fiscal stress index, as published by the Department using revised data for 2017. Qualifying localities are able to (i) classify blighted and derelict properties as a separate class of taxable property and assess such property at a higher rate and (ii) sell delinquent tax lands six months after the locality has incurred abatement costs for buildings that have been condemned, constitute a nuisance, are a derelict building, or are declared to be blighted. The bill adds qualifying localities to the list of localities that have different requirements for having a special commissioner appointed to convey tax-delinquent real estate to the locality in lieu of a public sale at auction. 

Status: Passed Both Chambers; Governor’s Action Deadline 11:59 p.m., March 31, 2021

 

Educational Programs

 

HB 1980 – Enslaved Ancestors College Access Scholarship Program; established, report. 

Patron:   Reid

Summary: Establishes the Enslaved Ancestors College Access Scholarship Program, whereby Longwood University, the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, the Virginia Military Institute, and The College of William and Mary in Virginia are required to annually provide, starting in the 2022-2023 academic year and with any source of funds other than state funds or tuition or fee increases, to at least one African American Virginia student who was born in the Commonwealth and has a total household income that is not more than 400 percent of the federal poverty guidelines a renewable scholarship in an amount sufficient to cover tuition, mandatory fees, room and board, books and other educational supplies, and tutoring at the institution. The bill requires the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia to collaborate with such institutions to establish guidelines for the implementation of the Program and to annually collect information on the implementation of the Program from such institutions and report such information to the Chairmen of the House Committee on Appropriations, the House Committee on Education, the Senate Committee on Education and Health, the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations, and the Virginia African American Advisory Board.

Status: Passed Both Chambers; Governor’s Action Deadline 11:59 p.m., March 31, 2021

 

Historic Preservation and Resources

 

HB 1928 – Historic resources; acquisition and lease of land. 

Patron:   Aird

Summary: Exempts additional land acquisition activities of the Department of Historic Resources (the Department) and the Board of Historic Resources (the Board) from review by the Department of General Services and authorizes the Department and Board to undertake additional leasing and property acquisition activities related to battlefield properties, designated landmarks, and other properties of historic significance.

Status: Passed Both Chambers; Governor’s Action Deadline 11:59 p.m., March 31, 2021

PVA Position:  SUPPORT

 

HB 2311Objects of antiquity; removal from battlefield; penalty. 

Patron:   Runion

Summary: Adds land owned by a battlefield preservation organization and land on which such organization holds an easement to the category of lands on which it is unlawful to intentionally damage, disturb, or remove any object of antiquity. Current law prohibits such acts on any designated state archaeological site or on state-controlled land and provides that a violation of the prohibition is a Class 1 misdemeanor. 

Status: Passed Both Chambers; Governor’s Action Deadline 11:59 p.m., March 31, 2021

  

SB 1457Preservation of historic sites. 

Patron:  Surovell

Summary: Provides that any locality utilizing the urban county executive form of government (Fairfax County) may include a provision in its historic preservation ordinance requiring public access to an historic area, landmark, building, or structure, or land pertaining thereto, or providing that no subdivision shall occur within any historic district unless approved by the review board or, on appeal, by the governing body of the locality as being compatible with the historic nature of such area, landmarks, buildings, or structures therein with regard to any parcel or parcels that collectively are (i) adjacent to a navigable river and a national park, (ii) owned by a common owner exempt from taxation, and (iii) in part or as a whole subject to an easement granted to the National Park Service or Virginia Outdoors Foundation granted on or after January 1, 1973. 

Status: Passed Both Chambers; Governor’s Action Deadline 11:59 p.m., March 31, 2021

 

In Congress

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.

 

Legislative Archive 2021

 

You can support Preservation Virginia’s statewide work and be a voice for historic places.