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Tax Bills in Play, 67 Reps Sign Letter, Thanksgiving Op\Eds

Advocates Alert: November 20, 2009

The House of Representatives is finally moving on tax legislation, but the particulars are still very much in flux.  Every few hours there's a new version of whether the House will pass short term extensions, a permanent estate tax fix, new economic stimulus, or some combination of these.  And it's unclear how the Senate will respond.

The good news here is that, thanks to the support you've built, both the easement incentive and estate tax incentives for conservation are very much in play.  Just this morning, a draft House bill was circulated that included a one-year extension of the easement incentive, but making it permanent will be a much greater challenge, so we need your help now more than ever.

Why Permanence? Help us Make the Case

Tax legislation is expected on the House floor the week of November 30, so please call your Rep. today or Monday and tell them how important a permanent extension of the easement incentive is for conservation:

  1. Donating a conservation easement is a lengthy and expensive process that many donors won't start unless they know that the incentive will be there at the end.
  2. Rushing easement donors to meet a deadline is bad for the donors and bad for conservation. Easements are perpetual restrictions that ought to be done thoughtfully and only after careful consideration.

67 Reps. Send Letter Urging Leadership to Make the Incentive Permanent

Yesterday, an extremely diverse group of 67 Representatives sent a letter to House leadership urging them to find a way to make the easement incentive permanent before it expires at the end of 2009.  The letter was spearheaded by Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT) as a co-chair of the Land Conservation Caucus and will be extremely helpful in the negotiations ahead.

We're particularly grateful to five members of the Ways & Means Committee: Reps. Mike Thompson (D-CA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), and Ginny Brown-Waite (R-FL) for signing a letter addressed to their own Chairman -- not something that is done lightly.  We're also thankful to the other caucus co-chairs, Reps. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Jim Gerlach (R-PA) and Joe Pitts (R-PA) and to the dozens of land trusts who called and urged their Reps. to sign.

This letter is another great opportunity to remind your Representative that conservation is an issue in the upcoming tax debate.  If your Rep. signed the letter (click here to check), please call to say thank you and remind them how important a permanent extension of the incentive would be for conservation.

Submit a Thanksgiving Op\Ed or LTE about the Incentive

The strong bipartisan support we've gathered for the easement incentive is a remarkable story and Thanksgiving is a perfect time to spread the word!  At a time when Congress can't seem to agree on anything, our 261 co-sponsors from both parties and all 50 states make for a great feel-good story.

Please customize this template as an Op\Ed or Letter to the Editor, send it to your local paper and make a follow-up call to get it placed. Contact communications@lta.org for help in creating your custom message.  Even if your Op\Ed doesn't get picked up, be sure to send copies to your Congressional delegation so they know you tried.  It could also make a great piece for your newsletter.

This kind of coverage is a great way to promote your land trust.  Here are some examples from: Maryland Environmental Trust, Black Swamp Conservancy, Montana Land Trust Association, and Southern Oregon Land Conservancy.

Please accept our special Thanksgiving thanks for all your hard work!

H.R. 1831 and S. 812 Co-sponsors Added Since Last Update:

  • Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN/4th)
  • Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI/4th)*
  • Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO/6th)
  • Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV/3rd)
  • Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR/5th)
  • Senator Mark Udall (D-CO)

*Ranking Member of the Ways & Means Committee!

Click here for the full list.

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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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