Public Policy

The Washington Trust is your voice for preservation in Washington State.

Statewide: The Washington Trust serves as the voice for preservation in Washington State. When our state legislature is in session, we maintain a presence in Olympia through active participation in the state’s Heritage Caucus, testifying before legislative committees, tracking heritage related bills and policy, and assisting lawmakers in drafting preservation-related legislation.

Nationwide: On the national level, we coordinate and provide travel scholarships for grassroots preservation advocates to attend Preservation Advocacy Week in Washington, DC. Through social media and other forms of electronic communication we serve as a clearinghouse and alert center for federal legislation and undertakings impacting the preservation community. Relationship building is a key component of our policy work. To this end we foster and maintain relationships with our Congressional delegation and their staff, providing key information on federal issues. Interested in joining our grassroots delegation and advocating for preservation on a national level? Learn more here.

Major advocacy successes from recent years include:

  • Passage of state bill establishing the “Special Valuation” program which provides a ten-year property tax abatement for rehabilitation of historic properties.
  • Passage of state bill establishing Washington Downtown Revitalization Program resulting in Washington Main Street which uses a 4-point approach for downtown revitalization, which includes historic preservation.
  • Increased in the tax-based incentives encouraging private businesses to support local downtown revitalization efforts.
  • Legal victory in the Washington State Supreme Court establishing the jurisdiction of local preservation ordinances over state-managed institutions of higher education.

Current public policy advocacy efforts:

SB 5805 – Our first statewide legislative effort in 2018 deals with the Seattle School District. SB 5805 would exempt school districts with an enrollment above 50,000 (Seattle is the only such district in the state) from local preservation ordinances. We are opposed to this and are working with our colleagues at Historic Seattle, along with several Seattle area historical societies, to defeat the bill. Of additional concern is the way the bill is written, which could be interpreted as an effort to avoid review under SEPA for Seattle school construction projects. To date, the bill has failed to move out of committee, but we continue to closely monitor the issue.

Captial Budget – The legislature passed the 2017-19 Capital Budget, and it is on its way to the Governor’s desk for signature. The budget includes full funding for the list of projects recommended to receive grants through the WA State Historical Society’s Heritage Capital Grant Program. We are slated to receive a grant in the amount of $193K to continue to replace the plumbing system at the SGM. And most importantly, the Capital Budget includes appropriations to continue the County Courthouse and Heritage Barn Grant programs, while establishing a new grant program for Historic Cemeteries. All three programs are with DAHP which recently distributed an RFP for management of the programs.

Historic Tax Credit – The national preservation community recently rallied to protect the Federal Historic Tax Credit that has created more than 2.4 million jobs and leveraged over $131 billion in private investment.