Join and get involved with the MI Impact Coalition  and MHPN as we work to bring back Michigan’s State Rehab Tax  Credit. New bills were introduced in the house & senate January 2019. 

Advocacy Alerts


From our friends at Preservation Action: 

Reach Out to Your Members of Congress and Tell Them to Protect the Historic Tax Credit During Tax Reform!

House Tax Reform Bill Released Today Eliminates the Historic Tax Credit

The Historic Tax Credit was eliminated in the House tax reform legislation released today. The tax reform bill, titled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, eliminates the Historic Tax Credit in section 3403 of the bill. While this was anticipated, it is still a huge blow to preservation efforts nationwide. Congressional leaders are pursuing an aggressive timeline to consider and pass tax reform before Thanksgiving. The Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Kevin Brady (R-TX) aims to begin the bill’s markup by Monday, Nov. 6th. Now more than ever, we need your voice! Take action below to protect the HTC! 
This is the most critical time for members of congress to hear to hear from constituents on the HTC. The need for tax reform is clear, but it must not come at the expense of this important economic redevelopment incentive, that more than pays for itself, and has a proven track record of creating jobs, saving historic buildings, and revitalizing neighborhoods. For the last 4 decades the Historic Tax Credit has rehabilitated more than 42,000 buildings, attracted more than $130 billion in private investment, and created nearly 2.5 million jobs.
  1. Urge your members of Congress to protect Historic Tax Credit during tax reform. Encourage your members to express their support to Congressional leadership and members of the House Ways and Means Committee and   Senate Finance Committee and insist that the Historic Tax Credit be included in the final version of tax reform. Call your members office and ask to speak to the staff member handling tax issues. You can call the capitol switchboard (202-224-3121) and ask to be connected to your members’ office. Be sure to highlight specific projects in your state and district that wouldn’t have been possible without the Historic Tax Credit. You can also use this easy to use tool to reach out to your members today! 
  2. Urge local leaders in your cities and towns to pass a city resolution in support of the Historic Tax Credit. This is a great way to demonstrate local support for the Historic Tax Credit and attract media attention. Cities like Shreveport, Boston and Cleveland recently passed resolutions urging protection of the Historic Tax Credit during tax reform efforts. Check out the resolution from Shreveport to see an example of what could be done in your city or town.
  3. Invite your members of Congress to attend an in-district/in-state meeting or tour a completed or planned HTC project. The House will be in-district Nov. 17-24. The Senate will be in-district Nov. 20-24. Showing members of Congress and/or their staff rehabilitated historic buildings first hand is one of the most effective ways to demonstrate the value of the HTC. For more information about scheduling a successful site visit, check out this helpful guide.

Check out these additional materials to help make your case for the Historic Tax Credit. If you have questions or need further information, please contact Rob Naylor at Preservation Action,

January 16, 2017

115th Congress is Sworn-in and Gets to Work on New Agenda, Including Tax Reform


The 115th Congress was officially sworn in on January 3rd. Republicans once again remain in charge of both the House and Senate, albeit with slightly diminished margins. Republican lawmakers are eager to get to work on a number of legislative priorities, like repealing the Affordable Care Act and tax reform. President-elect Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan have both targeted tax reform as a top priority of the new congress and administration, which could gain traction in the first 100 days. Perhaps more than ever before, the path forward on tax reform is clear. We expect tax reform legislation to be in line with the “A Better Way” tax reform blueprint proposed by House Republicans in June. The document proposed the elimination of tax credits and deductions, which would include the Historic Tax Credit. The Historic Tax Credit is in grave danger of elimination in tax reform


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. As lawmakers are drafting tax reform legislation, members of congress (especially those on the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee) need to hear from constituents in support of the Historic Tax Credit!


Take Action!


  1. Contact House members of congress ASAP– Call (during office hours) or email the offices of your members of congress and ask to speak to tax staff or staff contacts you have in offices. If they are on the House Ways and Means Committee tell them to state their support for the Historic Tax Credit (HTC) when reviewing draft tax reform legislation. If they are not on the Ways and Means Committee- ask them to convey their support of the HTC to Chairman Kevin Brady other committee members. House Member lookup. Senators lookup.



Check out the HTC Fact Sheet from the Historic Tax Credit Coalition and the HTC 1-pager from Advocacy Week 2016 for materials and talking points. Also check out the new interactive mapping tool from Novogradac and Company to see HTC projects in your state or district.


  1. Join Webinar on Addressing the Threat to the HTC.Register today for a FREE webinar from Preservation Leadership Forum and the Government Relations team at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Preservation partners and National Trust President and CEO, Stephanie Meeks, will discuss the most pressing policy issues facing preservation, including challenges to the federal historic tax credit. The webinar will stream live on Thurs., Jan. 19, 2-3 p.m. ET.


  1. Attend Advocacy Week March 14-16th. One of the best ways to make your voice heard is in person, in Washington. Attend National Historic Preservation Advocacy Week, March 14-16th. Our annual advocacy week, brings over 250 preservationists to Washington D.C for 3 days to lobby congress for historic preservation policy, including the Historic Tax Credit. Advocacy Week registration is now open! Register today! Please contact MHPN Executive Director, Nancy Finegood if you would like to join the Michigan group in DC.

December 30, 2016
In the final days of the 2015-16 Legislative Session the House passed a package of Senate bills that would allow for library systems to opt-out of tax capture from local tax increment finance authorities. The package of bills (SB 619-624; SB 620 specifically amends the DDA statute) was passed on December 15th, and was presented to the Governor on December 28th. The Governor now has 14 (calendar) days to sign, veto, or – because the Legislature has adjourned for the year – take no action, in which case the bills do not become law (thus, the term “pocket veto”).
Governor Snyder was sent a formal letter urging him to veto the package. But your individual action, and that of other downtown supporters, is still needed!  Even with Gov. Snynder out of the state, Lt. Gov. Calley can  sign this bill!
Please call or email Gov. Snyder and urge him to veto the TIF Library Opt Out bill package, Senate Bills 619-224. 
Call (517) 335-7858, or Email
Taking Points are provided in the document linked below


August 23, 2016
Urgent Update on HB 5232 and SB 720

Michigan’s historic places drive economic development, attract businesses, draw tourists and new residents, create a sense of place, and enhance our quality of life. Keeping these historic places is so important that historic preservation has been upheld as a public purpose under the U. S. Constitution—preserving historic resources is a valid governmental goal and local historic district ordinances have been upheld as an appropriate means to secure that goal. Local historic districts are the only way for communities to manage and protect historic assets, and Michigan enables local historic districts through Public Act 169 of 1970. 78 communities to date have chosen to enact ordinances to protect their historic assets at the local level, under current state law. House Bill 5232 seeks to change Public Act 169, making it exponentially more difficult for a community to navigate the local historic district process by introducing multiple procedures for local legislative bodies and community members to follow depending on what they wish to accomplish.

The Michigan legislature has been on an in-district work period since June 8th but plan to return to session on September 7th.  Both the House and Senate have a limited session schedule until following the November election.  Upon their return, the legislature will enter what is commonly known as the “lame duck” session.  This is a very intense time period in which many bills pass through the process at a very quick pace.

House Bill 5232 and Senate Bill 720, the legislation which amends the local historic district act, can be voted on until session has ended for the year.  This means that we, as supporters of local historic districts, must remain vigilant by contacting your legislators indicating your continued opposition for the legislation.  Please contact your legislators both in the House and Senate via email, phone or written note.  You can find your legislators contact information by visiting and

April 26, 2016



Dear members, friends, and supporters,

Thank you for your continued opposition to HB 5232 (and SB 720), and very special thanks to the advocates in Michigan House District 107—Emmet, Mackinac, Chippewa, and Cheboygan Counties. As you know, in January, HB 5232 was assigned to the Local Government Committee, chaired by Rep. Lee Chatfield (House District 107). Representative Chatfield has confirmed in a letter to constituents that although he worked “exceedingly hard to strike a balance with this legislation, …I have been unable to adequately satisfy many of the concerns of my constituents.” He has decided to “indefinitely suspend consideration of HB 5232 and the conversation of reform to the Michigan Historic Preservation Act.”

Thank you, advocates on Mackinac Island, in Harbor Springs, and elsewhere in Michigan’s 107th House District! This is a big victory for historic preservation in Michigan, but we all need to remain cautious and vigilant.  HB 5232 will not be on the Local Government committee agenda anytime soon, but the bill may be reassigned to another committee and we may need to activate quickly all over again. Thanks to each and every one of you all over the state who has spoken and written against this bill, and as we hear more information, we will definitely share it with all of you. Congratulations and thank you!

–MHPN Staff–


March 31, 2016

Dear MHPN friends and supporters,

Thank you for your continued opposition to HB 5232. We want to share an update on the latest draft of the bill, where the legislative process currently is, and how you can continue to assist.

HB 5232 was introduced on Jan. 26th and a substitute bill was adopted by the House Local Government Committee on Feb. 24th. Since that time, there have been several changes to the bill and it is now in its sixth draft. It is attached here along with MHPN’s most recent one-pager. The House and Senate are on spring break until April 12th and we are anticipating that either this most recent Draft 6 of HB 5232 or yet another draft will be formally introduced and perhaps voted on the next time Committee meets (Wednesday, April 13th @ noon). We will keep you all informed, when we receive notice. MHPN had a great presence in Lansing on March 23rd with its Advocacy Day and constituents from across the state had an opportunity to meet with legislators to voice their concerns and opposition. We thank everyone who participated in this important event.

MHPN firmly opposes HB 5232 in any format and wants the bill to be killed outright in Committee. We plan to share our suggestions for improvements to House Bill 5232 Draft 6 with Rep. Afendoulis and the bill sponsors to mitigate the sections that jeopardize protections for historic resources. Below are a few key areas that we continue to find challenging and unnecessary. Feel free to use these talking points in communications with the Governor, legislators, and the press.

Process for local historic district designation: The bill now introduces a requirement that the local legislative unit must establish precise boundaries of a proposed historic district ahead of time and must notify property owners of the proposed study area before being able to appoint the study committee. As proposed, if those boundaries change as the study committee researches, then all property owners have to be re-notified and the entire process begins again. The bill then establishes a procedure (borrowed from state zoning enabling legislation) that would allow a protest petition. In the protest petition scenario, if at least 20% of owners of land in the proposed district protested the district, then a 2/3 majority would be required by the elected officials to establish the district. This was proposed as a “circuit breaker” to allow property owners to act to stop the district process if they felt they needed to, but it still allows for the default to be historic preservation and historic districts. Questions remain as to how this process would work in proposed districts where a large landowner or two is opposed to a proposed district (including single resource districts) and how this proposal would impact emergency moratorium/interim designation resolutions to help prevent unwanted demolitions or alterations.

Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation: When historic district commissions review applications for work, there is ambiguity in the bill language as to whether the Standards would be mandatory or optional. The bill states that the Standards should be “consulted” rather than followed and later implies that local design guidelines may be followed if they are equivalent in guidance to the Standards. This language is unclear, perhaps intentionally, and does not provide historic district commissions any certainty in how they could best review projects.

Appeals: The local legislative unit will now determine what the local appeal process will be. Bodies that can hear appeals include a local legislative body, a zoning board of appeals, or “any other official local zoning or building construction appeal board established by ordinance”. Local appeals, in many cases, will be more costly to a community in its use of staff/board time if heard at the local level. Additionally, the number of appeals will likely increase from the current 1-2 that are heard by State Review Board per year as an aggrieved applicant would be familiar with the individuals they would appeal to — unnecessarily taking advantage of local connections and the political atmosphere. Our recommendation is that the State Review Board remain an option for a community and that they be able to choose to have appeals heard at the local level or, more impartially, at the State Review Board with its composition of historic preservation professionals familiar with the local historic district act.

Take Action! We encourage you to continue contacting your representatives and senators expressing outright opposition to the bill in any format. While the House and Senate are on spring break until April 12th, please do try to meet with your legislators in person, in their districts, to communicate how the bill would negatively impact your communities and local historic districts.

It’s also important to reach out to Rep. Afendoulis, Sen. MacGregor, Rep. Sheppard, and Rep. Chatfield and to copy them on your opposition communications.
Rep. Afendoulis: (517) 373-0218,
Sen. MacGregor: (517) 373-0797,
Rep. Sheppard: (517) 373-2617,
Rep. Lee Chatfield: (517) 373-2629,
Thank you for your ongoing support and efforts. Be sure to follow us here for continued updates!
–MHPN Staff


National Trust For Historic Preservation, Benefits of Historic Districts Key Messages

Reasons to establish a historic district, from Norman Tyler, Ted J. Ligibel, and Ilene R. Tyler, Historic Preservation: An Introduction to Its History, Principles, and Practice (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2009) – used with permission.

Myth v Facts (PA 169 of 1970)

UPDATED 3/31/2016! One-page MHPN Statement Against HB 5232/SB720 (word/pdf)

Sample Language Letter to Legislators (updated 3.8.2016)

Sample Language for Governor – suitable lenght to post on the online portal (updated 3.21.2016)

Find Your State Representative

Find Your State Senator


HB 5232 H-2 (Draft 6 – posted 3.31.2016; not yet accepted by Local Government Committee)

HB 5232 H-1 (accepted by Local Government Committee 2-24-2016)

Senate Bill 720





City Councils, Historic District Commissions, and history organizations across Michigan are recognizing that the two bills will be a major blow to their community.

Charter Township of Northville Historic District Commission



Mount Pleasant

Jackson (City Council) (Historic District Commission)

Historical Society of Michigan

Ann Arbor

Clarkston (City Council) (Community Historical Society) (Historic District Commission)

Oakland County Board of Commissioners

Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners

MotorCities Board of Directors

Pittsfield Township Charter

City of Saline

Rochester Hills Historic District Commission

Village of Franklin

Oakland Township Board of Trustees

Letter from Cadillac Historic District Commission


Michigan Recreation and Park Association


The following press is provided in chronological order with newest at the top; the most recent  items address the substitute bill for HB 5232 placed before the Michgian House Local Government Committee on February 24, 2016.

EDITORIAL:History burners (The [Toledo] Blade, May 9, 2016)

Controversial historic preservation reforms are now history, by (WVFM 105.6 FM Kalamazoo, May 5, 2016)

Chatfield Shelving Historic District Bill, Gongwer News Service (April 28, 2016)

Concern for Mackinac Island stops bill to change historic preservation rules, by Peter Payette (Interlochen Public Radio, April 27, 2016)

Lessenberry discusses historic district legislation and kids with incarcerated parents, by Jack Lessenberry (Michigan Radio, April 27, 2016)

Nancy Finegood: New legislation threatens Michigan’s local historic district, by Nancy Finegood (MLive, April 19, 2016)

A millennial resident and small business owner’s perspective on the historic district debate,  by Stephanie Kolbe (Heritage Herald, March/April 2016)

New legislation threaten the future of Michigan’s local historic districts, by Nancy Finegood (Bridge, April 7, 2016)

Finegood: Current Historic Districts Work, by Nancy Finegood (Lansing State Journal, April 3, 2016)

Bills HB 5232 & SB 720 “Historic Preservation Modernization Act,” by Heritage Hill Association Board of Directors (Heritage Hills Association, 2016)

Proposed Legislation Threatens Michigan’s Historic Districts, by Michigan Barn Preservation Network (Spring 2016)

Where Do Historic Districts Come From?, by Vincent Michael (Traditional Building, March 2016)

Historic district proposal offers stakeholders greater say, by State Reps. Jason Sheppard, R-Temperance and Chris Afendoulis, R-Grand Rapids Township (Bedford Now, March 12, 2016)

Local group opposes bills changing historical districts, by Mike Koury (C&G Newspapers, March 9, 2016)

Preserving our right to preserve: What proposed historic district legislation could mean locally, by Natalie Burg (Concentrate Ann Arbor, March 9, 2016)

Meet the Detroiter whose historic restoration skills are in demand around the country, by MJ Galbraith (ModelD, March 8, 2016)

OP ED: Overhaul of law for historic districts preserves local support for them, by Representatives Afendoulis and Sheppard (MLive, March 7, 2016)

Commission passes resolution opposing historic district act modifications, by Elena Hines, Managing Editor (Three Rivers Commercial-News, March 2, 2016)

Meijer Poised to Potentially Reap Millions If HB 5232 Approved, by Nancy Kotting (Watapama, March 1, 2016)

Why Meijer executive is thumbs down on Michigan historic districts, by Garret Ellison (MLive, March 1, 2016)

The Big Reason Historic Preservation Districts are a Good Idea, by Matt Carmichael (City Amenities Livability Blog, February 29, 2016)

Battle lines drawn over Michigan historic districts, by Louis Agiular (The Detroit News, Feburary 29, 2016)

Jack Lessenberry: ‘Modernization’ ahead for historic districts?, by Jack Lessenberry (Traverse City Record Eagle, February 27, 2016)

Local Historic Districts Act should remain unaltered, by the Three Rivers Historic District Commission (Three Rivers Commercial-News, February 27, 2016)

Keep: Historical district law a powerful tool, in peril, by Paul Keep (Lansing State Journal, February 26, 2016)

2 bills could be a disaster for historic districts in Michigan, by Jack Lessenberry (The Blade [Toledo], February 26, 2016)

Historic Preservation Threatened?, by Jack Lessenberry (Dome Magazine, February 26, 2016)

Historic Districts See Threat, by Stephanie Fortino (The St. Ignace News, February 25, 2016)

Grand Rapids pens letter to lawmakers over threat to historic districts, by Monica Scott (MLive, Feburary 24, 2016)

Planning expert: Legislation could “abolish historic districts” in Michigan (Stateside, Michigan Radio, Feburary 24, 2016)

Why We Support Historic Districts & Oppose Michigan HB5232 by Amy Haimer (, February 24, 2016)

Overhaul of historic district law puts burden on property owners, by Sharon Ferraro (MLive, February 24, 2016)

Editorial: How not to preserve our past (The Blade [Toledo], February 23, 2016)

Affluent suburb behind push to dismantle Michigan historic districts, by Garrett Ellison (MLive, February 22, 2016)

Developers, preservationists puzzled by bills to update historic district statutes, by Nick Manes (MiBiz, February 21, 2016)

Feedback: ‘Historic’ legislation flawed, by Paul M. Keep (Detroit Free Press, February 20, 2016)

Fight to Preserve Historic Preservation Tools for Cities, by Anna Clark (Next City, February 18, 2016)

Rapid Blog: Afendoulis bill should disappear, not Grand Rapids’ historic districts, by Rebecca Smith-Hoffman (Rapid Growth, February 18, 2016)

Preserving Our Past (radio link) (script) by Jack Lessenberry, (Michigan Radio, February 17, 2016)

Michigan Historic Districts imperiled, by Carlisle/Wortman Associates Inc. (Carlisle/Wortman Associates Inc., February 16, 2016)

An Open Letter to the Michigan Legislature, by Nancy Kotting (Watapama, February 16, 2016)

Michigan Legislation Endangers Historic Districts, Empowers Property Owners, by Shafaq Hasan (Nonprofit Quarterly, February 10, 2016)

City opposes changes to historic district regulations, by Adrian Hedden (Morning Sun News, Februrary 10, 2016)

Should Historic Districts Change? Why One Michigan Lawmaker Says Yes, by Patrick Sisson (Curbed Detroit, February 10, 2016)

Bills threaten local historic districts in Michigan, by John Gallagher (Detroit Free Press, February 10, 2016)

Proposed law would ‘kill’ Bay City’s Historic District, official says, by Andrew Dodson (MLive, February 9, 2016)

Preservation overhaul will cause damage of historic, economic proportions, by Nancy Kotting, Guest Writer (MLive, February 9, 2016)

Ann Arbor preservationists sound alarm on threat to local historic districts, by Ryan Stanton (MLive, February 9, 2016)

Leave Michigan’s historic districts alone, Detroit Free Press Editorial Board, Detroit Free Press, February 9, 2016

Let’s kick this up a notch!, MHPN email blast, February 8, 2016

State Lawmakers Consider Changes to Historic Preservation Laws, WOOD 106.9, February 8, 2016

National Trust for Historic Preservation Letter to Rep. Chatfield, House Local Government Committee, February 8, 2016

Why Bother with Historic Districts, interview of Andrea Brown, Michigan Chapter of American Planning Commission, by Amy Miller (WDET, February 8, 2016)

Bills Could Dismantle Local Historic Districts Across State by Beth Dalbey (Wyandotte Patch, February 7, 2016)

Bills threaten local historic districts in Michigan, by John Gallagher (Detroit Free Press, February 6, 2016)

Bill Rewriting Historic District Act called ‘over-reaction’ by Sean Bradley (Manistee News Advocate, February 5, 2016)

Opinion: Michigan’s Historic Districts Act isn’t broke, so don’t fix it, by James Turner (ModelD, February 5, 2016)

JEOPARDIZED: Michigan Historic Districts Under Threat, by Maria Taylor (Preservation Farmington, February 4, 2016)

Leave laws that protect historic districts alone, by Amy Elliott Bragg (Hometown Life, February 4, 2016)

Local group expresses concern for fate of historic districts, by WWMT Staff (WWMT, February 3, 2016)

‘It’s absolutely despicable,” Ypsilanti council member says of bill to weaken historic districts, by Tom Perkins (MLive, February 3, 2016)

Historic districts: keeping the great places we already have, by Richard Murphy (Michigan Municipal League Placemaking, February 2, 2016)

Historic Districts Process Changed with Proposed Amendment,
by Robin Runyan (Curbed Detroit, February 1, 2016)

Changes to historic district designation up for debate, by Kathleen Gray (Detroit Free Press, January 30, 2016)

Bills would make it harder to get, keep historic district status, by Sarah Cwiek (Michigan Radio, January 28, 2016)

Historic preservation vs. private property rights in Michigan House bill, by Matt Vande Bunte (MLive, January 27, 2916)