Land Conservation Policy

Public policy decisions impacting land conservation in the Commonwealth. 

General Assembly Special Session Update

General Assembly Special Session Update

Beginning on Aug 18, the Virginia General Assembly entered a special session to focus on budget impacts related to the pandemic and calls for criminal justice and policing reforms as local and national unrest continued following the death of George Floyd. At the time of this writing, session is ongoing and many questions remain on the shape of the final budget and some of the legislative initiatives. Legislators intend to wrap up their work before the end of September.

So Many Bills, So Little Time

It is March, a time when most people eagerly await the end of winter and embrace the first signs of spring. For me, the spring also marks the end of long days and nights spent walking the halls and occupying committee rooms in Richmond. The 2020 Virginia General Assembly session concluded on March 12, and by the time you read this, we will all be awaiting Governor Northam’s response to the legislation and budget passed by both houses.

What will tomorrow bring?

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This year’s Virginia General Assembly promises to be an interesting one, as the November 2019 elections resulted in a change in leadership in both the House and the Senate. A new Speaker of the House (Filler-Corn), Senate Majority Leader (Saslaw) and large shifts in committee memberships of both bodies are among the changes. With Governor Northam still in office, the Democrats have consolidated control of state government for the first time in more than two decades. And that means we will see many of the priorities of the party at the forefront of the legislative agenda.

Speaking Up for Land Conservation

Speaking Up for Land Conservation

(By Rex Linville) My job with The Piedmont Environmental Council usually has me visiting farms and forests in Albemarle and Greene counties and advising landowners on conservation strategies for their property. But early this November, I found myself on Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C. offering public comment to the IRS about proposed regulations that would adversely impact land conservation in Virginia…

New IRS Proposal Would Hurt Land Conservation in Virginia

On August 27, 2018 the IRS proposed new regulations changing how it would characterize state income tax credits (such as the Virginia Land Preservation Tax Credit “LPTC”) that are received when people make charitable gifts. If this rule passes, landowners who donate conservation easements would have to count the Virginia LPTC issued to them as a payment and their federal income tax deduction would be reduced by the value of the state tax credits received.

This would be a significant change to long standing federal tax treatment of these types of state credits that would negatively impact the rate of land conservation in Virginia and other states with similar programs. Take a look at the summary of PEC’s concerns regarding the proposed rule. For more detailed analysis of the proposed rule, see the policy brief prepared for PEC by Timothy Lindstrom, Esq, which provides a in-depth analysis of how the proposed rule is inconsistent existing IRS practice and/or will likely slow the rate of land conservation in Virginia.

There is a 45-day comment period that began on August 27, 2018 and ends on October 11, 2018. You can comment on this proposal online at: https://federalregister.gov/d/2018-18377

A public hearing is scheduled in Washington, DC for November 5, 2018.

Your General Assembly Update

Your General Assembly Update

The beginning of spring marks the end of the 2018 Virginia General Assembly session. Well, sort of. In the case of the budget, there was no resolution, which means the fate of conservation funding and the general path forward is still up in the air. To address this, the Governor has announced that a special session will convene on April 11.

One of the bigger issues taking up bandwidth this year was Medicaid expansion. The House’s budget bill included the expansion, while the Senate’s bill did not — this set up a showdown in the budget conference committee. Due to this and other differences, the conferees were unable to come to an agreement, meaning it will be some time before we know what programs will be affected.

Advocating for Strong Land Conservation Policies

Advocating for Strong Land Conservation Policies

Successful land conservation requires action at all levels to protect the Commonwealth’s diverse landscapes. Land conservation is critical in achieving measurable goals on protecting water quality, water supply, climate resiliency, and the Chesapeake Bay. State agencies, local communities, and private individuals need the right tools to protect working farms and forests, scenic landscapes, natural areas, wildlife habitat and game lands, historic resources, and parks and recreational areas for Virginia’s present and future generations. Virginia currently has a variety of programs and approaches that can deliver lasting results across the Commonwealth.