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Rep. Eric Cantor, LandVote 2008, FY09 Appropriations

Advocates Alert: February 25, 2009

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) to Join Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) on Easement Incentive Legislation

Last year, Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) was the lead Republican on our easement incentive legislation, so it was great news when he became the top Republican on the Ways & Means Committee. In keeping with longstanding precedent, however, he won't be cosponsoring legislation before the Committee this year.

Today, we're pleased to announce that Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) has agreed to be the lead Republican on new legislation to make the easement incentive permanent.  In addition to being a senior member of Ways & Means, Rep. Cantor is Minority Whip, the #2 position in the House Republican leadership.

Why did Rep. Cantor make this bill a priority?  It all comes down to a local land trust, Piedmont Environmental Council, asking for his help.  Last Tuesday, PEC and the Virginia Outdoors Foundation held an event for Rep. Cantor at family-owned Christmas tree farm in his district and presented him an award thanking him for cosponsoring easement incentive legislation last year. He agreed to sponsor this year's legislation on-the-spot. Click here for a picture from that event.

Reps. Thompson and Cantor will introduce the bill in a few weeks, so we need you to call your Representatives today and ask them to become original cosponsors by calling Travis Robey in Rep. Thompson's office.  A diverse list of original cosponsors will give the bill a huge head start when it is introduced next month. Click here for a fact sheet and talking points.

LandVote 2008 Shows a Record Year for Conservation at the Ballot Box

The Trust for Public Land and Land Trust Alliance recently published LandVote 2008, a report detailing the 90 successful ballot measures that together made 2008 a record year for land conservation at the ballot box. Click here to view the full report.

In 2008, voters approved 71% of land conservation ballot measures, including the largest single measure: $5.5 billion in Minnesota, and a record total of $8.4 billion for the year!  These votes show that the public still considers land conservation a priority, even in these tough economic times.

House Passes FY 2009 Appropriations Bill with Modest Gains for Conservation

Most of the federal government has been operating under the uncertain funding of a "continuing resolution" (CR) since Fiscal Year 2009 began last October 1st.  Today, the House passed an "omnibus" appropriations bill to replace the CR funding levels.  Some in the Senate are threatening cutbacks, so it's far from a done deal, but the House bill includes some modest gains for conservation.

We're particularly pleased that the House chose to provide close to full funding for the Farm Bill conservation programs.  In recent years appropriators have held back as much as half the funding promised to the Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program. Under the House bill, FRPP would receive its full authorized funding level of $121 million! Grasslands Reserve Program is limited only by its acreage cap.

The Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund would grow by more than $22 million to $152 million, but stateside LWCF funding is cut to just $20 million.  Click here for an explanatory statement listing specific projects.  Forest Legacy would shrink slightly to $49 million. State Wildlife Grants and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act would receive slight increases to $75 m and $42.6 m respectively.  We'll keep you posted as the bill moves to the Senate.

Thanks for helping!

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Advocates Alerts

July 17: The House just voted 277-130 to pass the charities package! 56 Democrats joined their Republican colleagues to support charitable giving incentives, including the enhanced easement incentive - the second-highest number of defections after the research and development tax credit. Several others spoke on the floor in support of the conservation easement incentive, and other favorable charitable incentives. Thank you to organizations like Ducks Unlimited, CSF and others that reached out to Congressional offices over the last few days or alerted their membership of this important vote. Now, we pivot to the Senate.
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