Rethos is preparing for the 2020 Legislative session by considering a number of policy positions and taking input from some of our key stakeholders. The summary of our Legislative agenda will be finalized by the end of 2019, well in advance of the first day of the Legislative session on February 11, 2020.
Following are some of the issues we plan to address:
Historic Tax Credit
As it was during the past two sessions, our top priority will be advocating for the Minnesota Historic Tax Credit. This credit, which is an essential tool for financing the rehabilitation of vacant and underutilized buildings across Minnesota, is due to sunset on June 30, 2021. If the Minnesota Legislature fails to extend the HTC well in advance of the sunset date, it will have a dampening eect on the kinds of rehabilitation projects that been shown to have a significant economic impact in communities both large and small.
Rethos Main Streets
We will continue to build awareness and recognition of the Rethos Main Streets program at the State Capitol. We have heard from an increasing number of communities that want to bring this program of Rethos. Interest in the program has far surpassed the available funding, part of which comes through the Heritage Preservation Partnerships Legacy grant program. We will hold our third-annual Main Streets at the Capitol day on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. Plan to come to Saint Paul to advocate for downtown revitalization and to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of our Main Street program.
The newly reopened Celeste Saint Paul is one of the many projects made possible by affirmative legislation on the issues outlined above. Top Left: Exterior, Celeste Saint Paul. Top Right: Interior restored chapel Bottom Right: Hotel hallway. Bottom Right: Original building, St. Agatha Conservatory, 1909.
Capital Investment Funding
You will probably hear a lot about the “bonding bill” during the coming Legislative session. Even-numbered years have traditionally been designated as the time when the Legislature decides how much to borrow to fund capital improvement projects for state and locally owned buildings and infrastructure, including roads, bridges, and wastewater treatment facilities. State agencies and local municipalities have submitted their preliminary requests, and members of the House and Senate Capital Investment committees, as well as the Governor and members of his staff, have been taking bonding tours throughout the Fall to visit the proposed project sites. Several historic buildings have requested state bonding dollars, and we will monitor the discussion around those assets carefully in the months ahead.
Housing and Sustainability
Rethos also keeps tabs on a number of other issues related to building reuse and community revitalization, both to promote sound policies and to be aware of potential negative impacts. Housing affordability will continue to be a major topic of conversation around the Capitol. Rethos is an endorsing member of the Homes for All coalition, and we believe building reuse and rehabilitation are important strategies in meeting the housing needs in communities of all sizes. Building reuse, renovation, and weatherization are also important in helping communities become more resilient to the impacts of climate change. Rethos is part of Minnesota GreenStep Cities, a statewide program that is a partnership between a number of state agencies and non-profit organizations, including the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Department of Commerce, the League of Minnesota Cities, and the Great Plains Institute, among others. In this role, we pay attention to bills and hearings at the Capitol that address demolition waste, energy usage, climate change response, and other issues of sustainability and community planning.