The CRM industry made its presence felt on Capitol Hill last week, albeit in virtual fashion.
As part of ACRA’s 2022 Virtual Advocacy Week, CRM professionals from across the country “met” by Zoom with members of Congress and their staffs to educate them on the industry and press for policies that support their firms. Among the issues that ACRA members raised were:
- The Historic Preservation Enhancement Act. For more than 40 years, the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) has supported the rescue and rehabilitation of significant historic sites, revitalized communities, and created opportunities for economic growth – all without spending a single dollar of taxpayer money. But the Fund has not seen an increase in authorized spending since the 1970s, even as the demand for historic preservation resources at the state and Tribal level has grown – and even as the Fund itself is slated to expire in 2023.
During Virtual Advocacy Week, ACRA members asked their representatives to support legislation to provide long-term stability for the Fund. The Historic Preservation Enhancement Act (H.R. 6589), a bipartisan bill introduced by Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-NM), would permanently authorize the HPF and double its annual amount to $300 million. Moreover, the bill would make this annual funding not subject to the annual appropriations process, ensuring that preservation activities will have the capacity to preserve our historic resources.
- Historic Preservation Funding. Even as ACRA and its allies work to provide long-term stability for the HPF, it used Virtual Advocacy Week to press Congress to support the Fund in the coming fiscal year that starts in October.
With the passage last fall of a trillion-dollar infrastructure package, the demand on state and Tribal historic preservation offices (S/THPOs) for facilitating Section 106 reviews is only going to increase. In addition, although Congress increased funding for the HPF by 20 percent in the current fiscal year, THPOs received only a 6 percent increase. That amount is not nearly enough to help THPOs handle their increased responsibilities, which is why ACRA members asked Congress to provide $200 million for the HPF in fiscal year 2023, including $34 million for THPOs.
- African-American Burial Grounds. Lastly, ACRA members asked their representatives to support legislation to protect and preserve African-American burial grounds. Noting that families of color were often barred from burying their loved ones in White cemeteries, many African-American burial sites have been neglected and abused over time, effectively erasing the memory of countless Americans whose history deserves to be told.
The African-American Burial Grounds Preservation Act, bipartisan legislation introduced in both the House and Senate, would allow the Interior Department to make grants for the identification, preservation, restoration and interpretation of historic African-American burial grounds.
ACRA members also invited their elected representatives to meet with CRM professionals back home in their states and congressional districts. Inviting a member of Congress to visit a firm or tour an active project site is a great way to build a stronger relationship with elected representatives and help them see first-hand the enormous value that cultural resource management brings to their community and the nation.
The meetings last week demonstrated that, despite the extreme divisions between the parties on many major issues, there is bipartisan support for historic preservation. That’s why meeting with elected representatives is so important: unless they hear from the CRM industry, they will not consider the industry’s viewpoints when debating major legislation.
As the pandemic recedes, it is becoming easier to meet with federal elected officials, either in Washington or back home. Every contact ACRA members make with their representatives improves the chances of securing important policy victories for the profession. Advocating for CRM is easy, and it takes only a few moments.
More importantly, it is one of the best ways to participate in the civic process. As many countries around the world turn away from democracy, it is more vital than ever that we maintain ours at home.
To learn more about how you can speak up for the industry, contact us at email@example.com.