Advocacy Alerts – December 2017

Early Saturday morning, the Senate passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Given that the House passed its tax bill on November 16, the House and Senate will now nominate members for a conference committee to reconcile the two versions of the bill. Please contact your representatives TODAY, December 5, 2017, regarding the following issues:

  • The House bill contains a provision that would make tuition waivers for graduate students subject to income tax, significantly increasing the tax liability of hundreds of thousands of graduate students. The Senate bill does not include that provision. Please visit the National Humanities Alliance (NHA) website to use their resources to take action and encourage others to do so via social media. They have activated patch-thru calling in addition to automated email messages. NHA expects the conference committee to play an outsized role in the negotiations, so it is important that as many legislators as possible hear from their constituents on this issue. NHA reports that conferees might be announced as early as today. Once they are, NHA and NCPH will let you know who they are as soon as possible and reach out to our advocates in those key districts and states. Please stay tuned!
  • In the House version of the bill, the Historic Tax Credit (HTC) is eliminated. As a result of strong advocacy from around the country, the Senate bill includes a restored 20 percent HTC payable over five years. Remind your Member of Congress that the HTC can continue to restore under-utilized buildings, create local jobs, and revitalize older commercial districts. As the tax reform process advances, the National Trust for Historic Preservation will continue to look for opportunities—either in the current bill or subsequent tax legislation—to further strengthen the HTC provisions. Please visit the Trust’s website to take action in support of the HTC.
  • Tax overhaul bills in Congress would make changes that could reduce donations to museums and other nonprofits by $13 billion per year. The American Alliance of Museums urges us to contact our legislators to tell them how important charitable donations are to museums and the communities they serve.

Two other recent items need swift action from members:

  • The National Park Service (NPS) recently proposed a significant peak-season entrance fee increase for seventeen of the most visited national parks, including Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, and Yosemite. For the five busiest months of the year, the cost of a seven-day park pass would be raised to $70 per vehicle, $50 per motorcycle, or $30 per person entering by bike or on foot. The National Coalition for History encourages members to oppose this increase, which would make national parks less accessible to many Americans. The public comment period has been extended and remains open until December 22nd. Learn more and leave your comments.
  • President Trump has announced his decision to reduce Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah by more than a million acres, leaving thousands of extraordinary archaeological sites vulnerable to looting and vandalism. The National Trust for Historic Preservation is preparing to challenge this action in court. As they do, they also ask that we show our support for Bears Ears’ 12,000 years of human history by urging lawmakers to co-sponsor legislation introduced to protect the Bears Ears National Monument by expanding the boundaries to 1.9 million acres, as originally recommended by a coalition of five tribes that proposed the designation to the Obama administration.

Photo courtesy flickr user Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management 

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