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Washington Watch

August 1, 2004

Michael Hardiman


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Bills we are watching

GOOD BILLS:

Good Bills - House:

HR 7 (Blunt, R-MO) Faith Based Initiative. HR 7 is a GOOD BILL, which has no provisions for Tax Favoritism for Land Trusts. Congressman Blunt has inserted NO special tax loopholes, NO Tax Favoritism for mulitbillion dollar corporations like The Nature Conservancy (TNC). TNC calls itself a "non-profit" but profited over $700 million last year alone from grant money from taxpayers, selling land to government agencies paid by taxpayers, and insider trading deals underwritten by tax breaks financed by taxpayers.

Congressman Blunt needs to know that he has backing from conservatives across the country in order to keep this special interest provision - Land Trust Tax Favoritism - out of the legislation, and carry the battle all the way to the end. Please address faxes and emails to his staff aide, Ms. April Ponnuru.

ALSO - OUR HERO on this issue is Congressman Wally Herger (R-CA), who has stood up to the powerful Land Trusts and defeated their efforts to carve themselves out a billion dollar tax break. THANK Herger by contacting his staff person Derek Harley: derek.harley@mail.house.gov TELL Herger to keep up the great work! Herger is a senior member of the powerful tax-writing committee, the Ways and Means Committee.

ALSO - Contact your own member of the House of Representatives, no matter who it is, in support of HR 7 - NO Land Trust Tax Favoritism. This issue has mixed up the usual "conservatives" and "liberals" into an unpredictable mix, so ANY House member is fair game to possibly side with us and Roy Blunt in support of private property rights.

*** IMPORTANT

    Tell Congressman Blunt THANK YOU for no more special preferences for land trusts. S. 476 (see below) is the Faith Based Intitiative's BAD BILL - it includes a special loophole to discount 25% off of capital gains taxes for a seller of land - but only if land is sold to a land trust or government agency! This places churches, private schools and private property owners at a comparative disadvantage when attempting to purchase land. This allows the land trust to cut its offering price by nearly the amount of the tax cut, so effectively the only beneficiary is the land trust.

H.R.8 (Dunn, R-WA) Permanent repeal of the estate tax, also known as the Death Tax. The Death Tax is a major factor in breaking up family businesses. The Nature Conservancy and the other multibillion dollar Land Trusts just love the Death Tax, because it allows them to hover like buzzards over family ranches and farms. They dangle conservation easement tax breaks in front of families when they have their backs against the wall financially, due to owing the Death Tax because of a death in the family. Think twice, and look very carefully at the fine print before making a land trust a co-owner of your land!

THIS BILL has just been approved by the House of Representatives - the Senate will consider it now.

*** IMPORTANT PRIORITY

    Please contact your Senator in SUPPORT of HR 8!

HR 67 (Flake, R-AZ) Disaster Area Exemption Act. Temporarily exempts federally declared disaster areas from the endless environmental regulations and appeals which hold up aid for families and cleanup.

HR 353 (Duncan, R - TN) Dispose of all Bureau of Land Management lands recommended for sale back to private property by the Department of the Interior.

HR 460 (Hayworth, R-AZ) Study the prevention of wildfires. Senate companion is S 32.

HR 701 (Paul, R-TX) Will restore to the original owners certain lands that were seized by the federal government in 1940 for military use, and not returned even though they have not been used by the feds for many years. NOTE: You may recall that HR 701 was, in the previous two congresses, previously the bill number of the "CARA" multi-billion dollar land grab bill. Now in the 108th Congress, thanks to Ron Paul, it stands for citizens getting their land back!

HR 849 (Shadegg R-AZ) To authorize the Regional Foresters to exempt tree-thinning projects, which are necessary to prevent the occurrence of wildfire likely to cause extreme harm to the forest ecosystem, from laws that give rise to legal causes of action that delay or prevent such projects.

HR 1005 (McInnis, R-CO and Gibbons, R-NV) PILT and Refuge Revenue Sharing Permanent Funding Act. Will fully compensate counties for losses in tax revenue due to federal government ownership of land (the federal government does not pay taxes to localities).

HR 1014 (Radanovich R-CA) Requires Federal land managers to communicate and cooperate with designated gateway communities, to improve these small communities' ability to participate in Federal land management planning conducted by the Forest Service and agencies of the Department of the Interior.

H.R. 1153 (Otter, R-ID) Limits to ten years the amount of time that Wilderness Study Areas can be studied. If nothing is done in ten years, then the land reverts back to previous levels of multiple use. This would close one of the loopholes that is most abused by the leftwing enviros. Right now, there is NO TIME LIMIT to how long an area can be "studied" for possible wilderness designation!

HR 1517 (Graves R-MO) Amends the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) to limit the use of funds available for maintenance purposes, and prohibits land acquisition. This is an excellent bill that would use all LWCF funds for upkeep and improvement of campgrounds, bathrooms, trails, roads, headquarters and interpretive centers. It would prohibit use of the funds for land acquisition, because federal and state governments already own nearly 40% of the land in the United States.

HR 1629 (Rehberg, R-MT) Removes private land from the boundaries of the Missouri Breaks National Monument, which was one of the Midnite Land Grabs in the closing days of the Clinton Administration.

HR 1662 (Walden, R-OR) Endangered Species Act revisions. Will add a greater role for the states and require more thorough biological evidence of a species being endangered before it can be listed as endangered. Companion bill to S 369.

*** IMPORTANT PRIORITY

    This bill needs more cosponsors! Contact your House of Representatives member and ask them to COSPONSOR HR 1517!

HR 1831 (Renzi, R-AZ) Legislation to keep open Glen Canyon Recreation Area and Lake Powell for use by personal watercraft.

HR 1965 (Gibbons, R-NV) Proposes to amend the Endangered Species Act to limit its application on military land or private land and to provide incentives for voluntary habitat maintenance.

HR 2386 (Simpson, R-ID) Requires congressional approval of any national monuments over 50,000 acres. This a long-needed response to the Clinton midnite monument land grabs.

HR 2715 (Radanovich, R-CA) A bill to open up Yosemite National Park to more camping and public access, and end the Sierra Club's special favored status within the Park.

Good Bills - Senate:

S 32 (Kyl, R-AZ) Study the prevention of wildfires. House companion is HR 460.

S 96, S 169 (both Kyl, R-AZ) The bills differ slightly, but both propose permanent repeal of the estate tax, also known as the Death Tax. House companion bills are HR 51, HR 57. Death should NOT be a taxable event!

S 369 (Thomas, R-WY) Endangered Species Act revisions. Will add a greater role for the states and require more thorough biological evidence of a species being endangered before it can be claimed as endangered. Cosponsors so far, include Sen. Hagel (R-NE) and Sen. Craig (R-ID).

S. 372 (Thomas, R-WY) Requires federal agencies to grant state and local governments "cooperating agency" status in the preparation of Environmental Impact Statements or other environmental analysis.

S 511 (Binghaman, D-NM) and Ensign, R-NV) Full payment of PILT funds. Companion bill to HR 1005.

BAD BILLS:

Bad Bills - House:

HR 37 (Boehlert R-NY) Elevate the Environmental Protection Agency to Cabinet status. This bill rewards bad behavior! It elevates the EPA when the EPA dedicates far more effort to protecting its power than protecting the environment.

HR 119 (Hefley, R-CO) The Invasive Species Act. If you think the Endangered Species Act is a dangerous attack on private property rights, wait till you see this one! There is a problem with some harmful plants and animals in many areas of the United States. The federal government already has the authority to deal with them, when there is enough funding. However, HR 119 proposes a massive new Invasive Species bureaucracy that will be able to regulate everything from grass on your front lawn to putting greens on golf courses, to the baby's breath flowers in prom corsages and wedding arrangements! And there are NO protections for private property rights.

HR 266 (Ehlers, R-MI) National Invasive Species Council Act. Creates an entirely new federal bureaucracy and establishes an Invasive Species Council. Private citizens are prohibited from being members of the council - only federal employees are permitted. "Invasive species" are not native to an area - like most human beings, for example. Crazy, but true - watch out for this one!

HR 524 (Frelinghuysen, R-NJ) "Crossroads of the Revolution" National Heritage Area - Land Grab extending across much of central and northern New Jersey.

HR 652 (Andrews D-NJ) To make the Wildlands Project into official government policy - the politically correct name is National Forest Ecosystem Protection Program. Ruin communities in small towns and rural areas through federal land use regulation.

HR 1051 (Bereuter R-NE) Would add land acquisition authority to nine more trails in the National Trails system. This would reward the federal government's bad behavior in seizing property from innocent people and paying them only a few cents per dollar of value.

HR 1130 (Holt, D-NJ) Ban snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park. This may sound crazy, but don't laugh - it has 134 cosponsors, mostly clueless northeastern leftists, like Holt.

HR 1964 (Frelinghuysen, R-NJ) Highlands Stewardship Area Act. Two million acre combined zoning control and land acquisition extending over four states - Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

HR 2036 (Isakson, R-GA) Open Space Preservation and Conservation Act. This would permit $25 BILLION DOLLARS to be used for permanent conservation easements, giving the Nature Conservancy and other Land Trusts and government agencies co-ownership in MILLIONS of acres of land. The solution to keeping agricultural and other rural land in family hands is to repeal the inheritance tax - instead, this bill would hand over BILLIONS to powerful land trusts and government agencies to expand their power!

HR 2416 (McGovern, D-MA) Companion bill is S.546, an anti-rockhounding bill, titled the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act. Places severe penalties on recreational rockhounding, would permit only "experts" to disturb public land surfaces.

This is a bill promoted by the cultural and scientific elitists who want the public lands all for themselves. Retirees and families will be unable to search for rocks and fossils and sell and exchange them at fairs and rock shows. Allows for seizure of private vehicles, camping equipment and anything else the government wants to grab for even minor violations. This bill assumes that Big Brother Government has all the answers, even though some of the greatest discoveries of dinosaurs and pre-recorded history has been done by private individuals.

HR 2964 (Portman, R-OH and Matsui, D-CA) Land Trust Tax Favoritism. Amends the Internal Revenue Code to provide a tax incentive for land sales for conservation purposes. This is a gigantic tax break for the Nature Conservancy and other massive Land Trusts. Sellers of land or water rights get a tax break of 50% of the capital gain - but ONLY if they sell to a land trust or a government agency! This will actually do NOTHING to help the seller of land, because land trusts will just lower their offering price for property, since they will have such a big advantage in the bidding versus private parties. This is the same Tax Favoritism proposed for the Faith Based Initiative (see S 476).

HR 3247 (Tancredo, R-CO) Jacks up penalties for minor violations of often arbitrarily applied laws on public lands. Hands over too much discretionary power to public lands enforcement agents.

HR 3283 (Regula, R-OH) Demands a $100 annual fee from every citizen who wants to set foot on any public lands. Penalties include up to 6 months in jail. But actually, don't worry, it will all be OK, because the $100 permission slip is called the America the Beautiful Pass.

HR 3324 (Shays, R-CT) Attacks public lands grazing, attempts to force ranchers off their allotments. At one point, the bill states that it is "socially just" to shut down public lands grazing.

Bad Bills - Senate:

S. 212 (Bingaman, D-NM) "Study" the Ogallala Aquifer, which is located in the central United States from South Dakota to Texas. This "study" will most likely lead to "guidelines" and then federal controls over private land over tens of millions of acres in the central United States.

S. 230 (Corzine D-NJ) same as HR 524, Heritage Area Land Grab.

S. 324 (Levin D-MI) National Trail Land Acquisition Authority. Companion land grab legislation to HR 1051.

S. 476 (Grassley, R-IA) is the Faith Based Intitiative's BAD BILL - it includes a special loophole to discount 25% off of capital gains taxes for a seller of land - but only if land is sold to a land trust or government agency! This places churches, private schools and private property owners at a comparative disadvantage when attempting to purchase land. This allows the land trust to cut its offering price by nearly the amount of the tax cut, so effectively the only beneficiary is the land trust. The GOOD BILL is HR 7.

S. 525 (Levin, D-MI) Aquatic Invasive Species Act. Massive land grab with a price tag of $170 million per year. This CLAIMS to be legislation to keep foreign species out of American waters by regulating oceangoing ships. HOWEVER, it ALSO proposes to regulate ALL FRESH WATER in the entire United States, whether or not it is deep or wide enough for a boat or ship! It also proposes criminal penalties for violations of any regulations resulting from the bill - before the regulations are even drawn up!!! This is one of several disasters in the making moving under the cover of invasive species.

S. 536 (DeWine, R-OH) Creates a National Invasive Species Council. Companion bill to HR 266. DeWine has a lengthy record of attacking private property rights, including attempting to force farmers in the proposed Darby Refuge area out of their homes. DeWine was also a leading supporter of the massive, unprecedented CARA Land Grab.

S 546 (Akaka, D-HI) Anti-rockhounding bill titled the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act. Places severe penalties on recreational rockhounding, would permit only "experts" to disturb public land surfaces. Allows for seizure of private vehicles, camping equipment and anything else the government wants to grab for even minor violations. This bill assumes that Big Brother Government has all the answers, even though some of the greatest discoveries of dinosaurs and pre-recorded history has been done by private individuals.

S 635 (Hatch, R-UT) Massive expansion of federal power called the Pioneer National Historic Trails Studies Act. Requires studies of SIXTY-FOUR trails in the central and western United States to determine if the federal government should acquire land and place viewshed restrictions on surrounding private property. And, just in case the bill misses any land that the feds want to grab, there is an additional catchall provision that says "other routes that the Interior Secretary considers appropriate" in addition to the sixty four routes already listed.

S. 651 (Allard R-CO) National Trails Land Acquisition Act. Expands the federal government's power to seize property along arbitrarily drawn "trails." Also has no restrictions against federal agencies claiming authority over adjacent private property as "buffer zones" and claiming "viewshed restrictions" over everything that can be seen from a trail!

S. 916 (Bennett, R-UT) National Mormon Pioneer Heritage Area. Federal zoning proposal for Highway 89, where much of Utah's remaining private land is located. An incredibly stupid bill from a Senator who is usually supportive of private property rights.

S. 999 (Corzine, D-NJ) Companion bill to HR 1964, two million acre, four state land grab.

S. 1515 (Boxer, D-CA) Massive new multimillion acre Wilderness proposal for California.

 


Editor's note: Mike Hardiman was Policy Director for Congressman, now Resources Committee Chairman, Richard Pombo from 1993 to 1999. He is President of Hardiman Consulting, a lobbying and public relations firm based in Washington, DC. He is one of the most knowledgeable and effective lobbyists in Washington on property rights and resource use issues. He can be reached at hardimanmike@aol.com.

 


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