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Senate Bill Introduced, A Dozen Ways to Say Thank You

Advocates Alert: April 6, 2009

Rural Heritage Conservation Act Introduced

Last Thursday, Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) introduced the Rural Heritage Conservation Act, S. 812, the Senate bill to make the enhanced tax deduction for conservation easement donations permanent.

Senators Baucus and Grassley are the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Finance, which handles all tax legislation.  Having these leaders as champions gives this bill a big leg up from the start, but additional Senate cosponsors are always helpful.

Click here for a page of advice and fact sheets you can use when asking your Senators to become co-sponsors of S. 812.

A Dozen Ways to Say Thank You

Thanking your elected officials when they do something right is an important step towards building a long-term relationship you can call on time and again.  H.R. 1831 now has 99 cosponsors! If your Representative is among them, please find a way to say thank you today!

  1. Call. It sounds old fashioned, but this is still the best way to reach staff on Capitol Hill and convey your message. Reach your Representative through the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121, ask for the staffer handling tax issues and thank them for helping.
  2. Send out a Press Release praising your Representative's leadership on this issue and informing landowners about the expiring incentive. (Be sure to send your Rep. a copy too.) Click here for a template.
  3. Submit a letter-to-the-editor to your local newspaper. Even if your letter doesn't get published, send a copy to your Representative so they know you’re trying. Click here for a template.
  4. Co-author an op-ed with your representative.  Click here to see a great example that Sherri Evans-Stanton of Brandywine Conservancy did with Rep. Joseph Pitts (R-PA) last year.
  5. Run an article in your newsletter about the incentive and thanking your Representative. Click here for a template.
  6. Draft an article for your Representative's constituent newsletter. Call your Rep.'s press secretary and urge them to take credit for the incentive buy running a story about it in the newsletter they send to constituents.  This is a win-win since they get credit for helping landowners and you get free publicity to every mailbox in the district. You can offer to draft the story and send photos of conserved properties in their district.
  7. Invite your Rep. to visit a conserved property. No other thank-you can compare to the one they hear from a landowner who benefited from the incentive. Invite your representative to see the incentive in action. Click here for our guide to hosting such an event.
  8. Say thank you in person. The spring district work period is TODAY through April 20!  Even if you can't get your Rep. to attend an event of your own, call their district office and arrange an in-district meeting for a quick thank you photo-op. You can also ask about public events like town halls or pancake breakfasts where you can say thank you in person.
  9. Host a media event. With or without your Representative in attendance, a media event is a great opportunity to praise their leadership. Our guide to hosting a public education event has templates useful for inviting media to anything from a landowner forum to a tour of conserved properties.
  10. Present an award to your Representative. A simple award, like a framed print of a conserved property, is a great way to thank your Representative for their support.  Moreover, the promise of an award may help your event or meeting get on their schedule.
  11. Get your easement donors to send thank you letters. Ask a few of your easement donors who benefited from the incentive to send thank you letters to their Representative. Click here for a template.
  12. Send a thank you letter from your organization.  Click here for a template.

Please send examples and pictures to policy@lta.org when you put these ideas to good use!

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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