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202 Co-sponsors, Town Halls, Estate Tax Bills, Conservation Campaign Toolkit

Advocates Alert: August 4, 2009

H.R. 1831 Now Has 202 Co-sponsors!

July was an amazing month!  With your help, we added 74 House and 9 Senate co-sponsors for legislation to make the tax incentive for conservation easements a permanent part of the tax code.  That brings us to 202 co-sponsors in the House, just 16 short of a majority! Only four of the 880 bills referred to the Ways & Means Committee have more co-sponsors than we do -- and we couldn't have done it without you!

Our goal is now in sight, so please click here to see if your Members of Congress are co-sponsors of H.R. 1831 or S. 812 (scroll down for new additions).  If so, please see our earlier alert on a dozen ways to say thank you.  If not, click here for sample materials and step-by-step advice on how you can help.


Town Hall Meetings - A Great Way to Say Thanks or Ask for Help

Are you having trouble scheduling an August recess site visit or in-district meeting with your Representative?  Town hall meetings are the next best thing and all you have to do is show up!

Whether it's formal town hall meetings, or a more casual gatherings like breakfasts and picnics, your Representative will spend much of the next five weeks at public events meeting constituents like you.  These are great opportunities to ask your Rep. for their support or to personally hand them a petition or a thank you letter.

To get started, go to www.house.gov and enter your zip code to find your Representative's website.  Take a moment to explore the site and see if your Rep. has an events page like these from Reps. Perlmutter and Tsongas.  Even if they do, it's still a good idea to call their district office (listed at the bottom of their page) and ask what other events you can attend.  Let them know if you're planning to present an award or thank you letter -- they may invite you to additional events.

Bills Introduced to Improve Estate Tax Incentives for Conservation

Estate taxes can lead to the break-up, sale and development of family-owned farm, ranch and forest lands, even when landowners would prefer to keep these lands intact.  Congress will almost certainly enact estate tax reform this year, and in recent weeks our friends on Capitol Hill have introduced three bills that would help landowners keep their land in agriculture and pass it on to the next generation:

  • H.R. 3050 -- American Family Farm and Ranchland Protection Act, introduced by Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Eric Cantor (R-VA). This bill will increase the cap on the "2031(c) exclusion" from estate tax for 50% of the value of land under easement, from the current $500,000 to $5 million.
  • H.R. 3524 -- Family Farm Preservation Estate Tax Act, Introduced by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA). This bill would indefinitely defer estate taxes on agricultural and conserved land so long as it remains in the family, ensuring that nobody will have to sell their land just to pay estate taxes.
  • H.R. 1328 -- Farmland Preservation and Land Conservation Act, Introduced by Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) to defer estate taxes on agricultural land or land under easement.

For more information about opportunities for conservation in estate tax reform, visit: www.lta.org/estatetax.


New Online Toolkit for State and Local Conservation Funding Campaigns

Today, The Conservation Campaign (TCC) is releasing a new web-based portal of tools, information and advice for advocates seeking to pass ballot initiatives for conservation funding.  The Conservation Campaign Toolkit is your ultimate resource to follow in the footsteps of states and localities chronicled in each year's LandVote report.  It's also your gateway to get involved in campaigns that are already underway.

Since The Conservation Campaign was founded by The Trust for Public Land (TPL) in 2000, it has supported more than 300 conservation funding initiatives in communities around the country, helping to generate billions of dollars for land conservation. The Conservation Campaign Toolkit, at www.conservationcampaign.org, draws from the lessons learned by these local campaigns as well as the expertise of TCC and TPL field staff.

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 and S. 812:

  • Rep. Lincoln Davis (D-TN/4th)
  • Rep. Parker Griffith (D-AL/5th)
  • Rep. Sam Johnson (R-TX/3rd)*
  • Rep. Chris Lee (R-NY/26th)
  • Rep. John Lewis (D-GA/5th)*
  • Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO/9th)
  • Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM/3rd)
  • Rep. James McGovern (D-MA/3rd)
  • Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA/12th)
  • Rep. Harry Teague (D-NM/2nd)
  • Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV/3rd)
  • Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD/8th)*
  • Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE)
  • Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

* Members of the Ways & Means Committee


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February 12: The House successfully voted 279-137, demonstrating a supermajority (67%) of support, on H.R. 644, a package of charitable incentives including the conservation tax incentive.Now we need your help in the Senate to secure co-sponsors! Sens. Heller and Stabenow have requested land trusts’ assistance in asking senators to cosponsor S. 330, the Conservation Easement Incentive Act. Learn more »

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