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Tax Incentive Needs Senate Co-sponsors

Advocates Alert: July 26, 2012

We are headed for a fall showdown on tax policy. The enhanced easement incentive expired at the end of 2011 and Congress will soon decide whether to retroactively renew it or not. Our incentive is one of about 70 expired tax provisions competing to survive this fall -- so we need your help giving Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) and other champions the ammunition they need to revive it.

Add S. 339 Co-sponsors to Get the Easement Incentive Unstuck

Our 309 House co-sponsors for H.R. 1964 will be enormously helpful in making the case that an extension of the enhanced easement incentive deserves special treatment. But we need to raise our profile and build support in the Senate, where just 21 senators have co-sponsored the Senate bill -- S. 339.

If you hail from Colorado, Connecticut, Mississippi, Montana, or Rhode Island -- congratulations are in order! Please thank both of your senators for their support.

If you live anywhere else -- at least one of your senators is missing and your assistance is urgently needed! We are particularly eager to thank and seek renewed support from the 34 senators who co-sponsored identical legislation in the past.

Our best hope is to boost support before Congress leaves for recess on August 3, so if either or both of your senators is missing from the co-sponsor list, please call them today (switchboard: 202-225-3121):

  1. Ask to speak with your senator's tax staffer and introduce your organization.
  2. Tell them how the tax incentive helps your land trust work with family farmers, ranchers, and modest-income landowners protect their land. Local anecdotes are best!
  3. Thank the senator for any past support and urge him/her to co-sponsor the Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act, S. 339, by contacting Tiffany Smith at the Senate Finance Committee at extension 4-4515.
  4. Ask for the staffer's email address and offer to forward more information. Send local pictures and examples or click here for fact sheets and letters of support.

For more background, including details on the tax benefits that remain in place if Congress fails to act, please visit: www.lta.org/easementincentive.

Make the Incentive an Issue at Home

Meeting with your senators or their staff in-state over recess is the single best way to make a lasting impression. Please consider inviting your senator to tour a conserved property and meet landowners who relied on this incentive.

In arranging a visit, it's important to remain flexible. Call your senator's nearest state office to inquire about the process and offer a range of options at a time of their choosing. If their schedule is already booked, ask about town hall meetings, constituent breakfasts, and similar events where you could show up, meet the senator, and talk to them about the easement incentive.

Late Breaking News on the Farm Bill

Next week the House will bring up a bill to extend the 2008 Farm Bill for a year and provide emergency drought aid to farmers and ranchers. We are supporting the extension, which could, ironically, provide a procedural mechanism for the House and the Senate to finish up the new Farm Bill they've been working on before the October 1 deadline. 7/27/12 UPDATE: It appears the extension bill may be drafted in a way that would preclude this maneuver. We will continue evaluating the bill and will share updates here and to the Farm Bill email list.

P.S. -- A redesign of the House Agriculture Committee website broke some links in Monday's Advocates alert on the Farm Bill. Those links have been repaired in the web version.

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Advocates Alerts

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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