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Fall 2008 

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Policy Update

Federal Policy Update

Farm Bill Update (H.R. 6124, Food Conservation and Energy Act of 2008)
Farmland Preservation Program (FPP) funding:
Based on member input, Heart of the Lakes provided written comments related to rulemaking for FPP to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service office in Washington DC. These comments offered input on requirements for funding eligibility to ensure that FPP program improvements created in the bill would be maintained in the rule-making process.

Conservation Tax Incentives:
Heart of the Lakes was pleased with the inclusion of conservation tax incentives in the Farm Bill which extended the federal conservation tax credits through 2009. Legislation remains in the U.S. House and Senate to make these incentives permanent. Senate Bill 469 and House Resolution 1576 have not moved out of the Senate Committee on Finance and the House Ways and Means Committee, respectively, and will not likely be made permanent before the end of the year. Legislation would then be re-introduced next year. 


State Policy Update

State Income Tax Incentives
State income tax incentives for land conservation supported by Heart of the Lakes (SB 1069/HB 5698) have not yet advanced due to their potential impact on the State’s general fund. Significant deficits are expected to continue, which may create a challenge for this legislation in the next Legislative Session beginning in January 2009. Such incentives have resulted in significant increases in conservation in other states and remain a priority for Heart of the Lakes as an effective tool to encourage landowners to donate land and engage in conservation easements.

Natural Resource Trust Fund Appropriations
Governor Granholm signed the appropriations bill for 2007-recommended Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund projects (SB 511 – Capital Outlay Bill) on September 29, 2008. Funding of over $35 million will support land acquisition and development projects across Michigan.

Natural Resource Trust Fund Modifications
Bills to enable bonding authority and leverage greater spending of the Trust Fund revenue stream introduced earlier this year would require a vote of the citizens of Michigan as such a change would require a constitutional amendment. Details of this initiative were not worked out in time for the measure to be placed on the 2008 ballot.

Electon Results

Both Ohio and Minnesota passed major conservation initiatives on November 4th. Ohio renewed a $200,000,000 bond initiative for open space, brownfields, and farmland preservation. In Minnesota, voters approved an increase in the state sales tax to fund clean water, the outdoors, and the arts which will raise about $275 million a year for the next 25 years.

In Michigan, four townships (Park Twp, Ottawa County; Grosse Ile Twp, Wayne County; Cascade Twp, Kent County; and Peninsula Twp, Grand Traverse County) passed or renewed millages to protect open space and parkland. For more information about these and other ballot initiatives, the Trust for Public Land has a searchable database at www.landvote.org.



 
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Heart of the Lakes Center for Land Conservation Policy

300 N. Bridge Street, Grand Ledge, MI 48837  |  517.925.8649  |  www.heartofthelakes.org




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