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27 New Co-sponsors, Coalition Action, Appropriations Update

Advocates Alert: July 17, 2009

A Critical Moment for the Conservation Easement Incentive Act

Wow! Over the past two weeks we've seen a surge of 27 new co-sponsors for H.R. 1831, bringing our total to 155.  That's great progress, but with the August recess looming, we need your help today!

With less than 6 months left until the enhanced tax deduction for conservation easements expires, land trusts around the country are springing into action to recruit co-sponsors for H.R. 1831 and S. 812. Click here for a complete list or scroll down for new additions.

There are just two weeks left until Congress departs for a five-week recess, so we need your help on two things today:

  • Double-check and follow-up with your Rep! Even if your Representative promised to co-sponsor or is a perennial supporter, you can't take their support for granted.   Congressional staffers are extremely busy and there are many points in the process where a name could go astray. The official list of co-sponsors was updated just this morning, so if your Rep. isn’t on it, we need you to call and follow-up today!
  • Confirm your August recess site visits. Our June 22 alert highlighted site visits over August recess as the most important way to build your Congressional relationships.   Whether or not you've put in a written request, now is the time to follow-up by phone with your Representative's schedulerClick here for a complete guide.

You can reach any Congressional office by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.   Ask to speak with the staff member who handles tax policy and urge them to co-sponsor H.R. 1831 by contacting Jonathan Birdsong in the office of Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA).   You can offer to follow-up by email with one of our fact sheets.

Want to learn more about our strategy and how you can help?   Please join us for a toll-free national conference call on the tax incentive:   July 23 from 2:00 -- 3:00 pm (Eastern time) 888-338-1010 code: 5211.


Coalition Letters and Sportsmen's Caucus Breakfast Build Momentum

To show Congressional leadership the broad support for H.R. 1831, we hope to recruit 218 co-sponsors in the House -- a majority -- before Rally 2009.   So who better to partner with than a Congressional caucus that has 212 members?   On July 15, the Congressional Sportsmen's Caucus hosted a breakfast briefing on the easement incentive where Caucus Co-chairs Reps. Dan Boren (D-OK) and Paul Ryan (R-WI) circulated a new Dear Colleague letter asking caucus members to co-sponsor H.R. 1831.   We thank the coalition members who sponsored the event and helped to organize a strong turnout of Representatives and their staff.

We're also excited to share two new group letters of support for H.R. 1831:

These letters, and others like them, can be great tools for showing your Representative the breadth of support for H.R. 1831. Click here for a dozen such letters you can email as follow-up to your Rep's tax staffer.

A Promising Season for Land Conservation Appropriations

Despite a gloomy economy, Congressional Appropriators appear poised to improve upon the already robust conservation funding levels in the President's Budget request!   The following numbers will continue to change as the Senate's FY 2010 Interior and Agriculture bills go to the full Senate and then must be reconciled with the House-passed bills, but funding levels appear strong so far:

  • Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) would receive $211 million in the House and $263m in the Senate, both substantial increases over FY09 and the President’s budget.
  • State-side LWCF would receive $30m in the House (thanks to a last minute increase by Chairman Norm Dicks) and $35m in the Senate.
  • Forest Legacy would receive $80m in the House and $55m in the Senate, increases from FY09, but less than the President’s Budget.
  • The North American Wetlands Conservation Act would receive $53m in the House and $45m in the Senate, slight increases from last year.
  • State Wildlife Grants receives the President's full request of $115m in the House, but just $80m in the Senate, a slight increase from last year.
  • Farm Bill Conservation Programs: In perhaps the most significant change from the President’s Budget, both the House and Senate removed caps on spending for all farm bill conservation programs except EQUIP.   As such, the Farm and Ranchland Protection Program would grow to $150m as prescribed in the 2008 Farm Bill.

We will provide additional details when the House and Senate reach a compromise on their respective bills in the fall.

Thanks for helping!

Important Reminder

If you receive a donation of land or a conservation easement, you must send a letter to the donor acknowledging the gift – or you put them at risk of an IRS audit! Click here for more on substantiation letters.


New Co-sponsors of H.R. 1831:

  • Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD/6th)
  • Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA/28th)
  • Rep. Leonard Boswell (D-IA/3rd)
  • Rep. Michael Castle (R-DE/At-large)
  • Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK/4th)
  • Rep. Chet Edwards (D-TX/17th)
  • Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA/51st)
  • Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ/5th)
  • Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM/1st)
  • Rep. Barron Hill (D-IN/9th)
  • Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI/2nd)
  • Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC/4th)
  • Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA/1st)
  • Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-FL/17th)*
  • Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI/10th)
  • Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL/1st)
  • Rep. Jerry Moran (R-KS/1st)
  • Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC/9th)
  • Rep. Michael Rogers (R-MI/8th)
  • Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI/1st)*
  • Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX/32nd)
  • Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX/21st)
  • Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE/2nd)
  • Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-KS/4th)
  • Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R-OH/12th)*
  • Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY/21st)
  • Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI/6th)

* Members of the Ways & Means Committee

New Co-sponsors of S. 812

  • Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS)
  • Senator Richard Burr (R-NC)
  • Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA)*
  • Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS)
  • Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA)
  • Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
  • Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)*
  • Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR)
  • Senator Jon Tester (D-MT)
  • Senator John Thune (R-SD)
  • Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)
  • Senator David Vitter (R-LA)

* Members of the Finance Committee

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