Federal Policy Update - December 2017

Federal Capitol

Federal Policy Update 


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Rollback of Protections for National Monuments
On December 4, President Trump signed an executive order that proposes to shrink the boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments by approximately 2 million acres. The order reduces Bears Ears by 85%, and cuts Grand Staircase-Escalante by 50%. 
This action is in addition to the proposed loosening of restrictions on the management of additional parks and an effort to pass legislation that would give the president authority to reduce the boundaries of our national monuments . (Lawsuits challenging the executive orders assert that the 1906 Antiquities Act does not provide that authority.)
CLCC joins land conservation and environmental organizations from across the country in opposing this dramatic rollback of federal land protection which will open up these pristine public lands to oil and gas exploration and other development. 
Action: If you share our concerns, please contact members of the Connecticut Congressional Delegation and ask that they oppose any efforts to weaken protections of our federal public lands.


Tax Reform Bill Will Hurt Land Trusts and Other Nonprofits
Update as of 12/21/17:  Congress passes the Tax  Cuts and Jobs Act tax reform bill!
Updates in "red" courtesy of the Land Trust Alliance below:
Congress is moving quickly to enact federal tax reform within the next few weeks. Included within the Senate and House proposals are the following provisions which would adversely impact all nonprofits, including land trusts.
  • Reduction in the number of taxpayers who can itemize their charitable deductions, so that 95% of taxpayers would receive no benefit from giving back to their communities. 

Update:  The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act doubles the standard deduction. Experts predict this will have consequences on charitable giving because by doubling the standard deduction, fewer people will itemize their deductions. That could have a huge impact on charitable giving because taxpayers who itemize and currently receive a deduction might no longer be eligible for that benefit.   

  • Elimination (in House version) of the Johnson Amendment, the provision in the tax code which requires 501c(3) nonprofits to be nonpartisan.

Update:  The Johnson Amendment remains intact for now.


  • Doubling of the estate tax exemption to about $11 million for single taxpayers and $22 million for married taxpayers, which may serve to disincentivize bequests of land.

More information on the impacts of the estate tax exemption coming soon.

The Senate and House proposals will now go to a conference committee for the purpose of reconciling differences in the two bills. 
There is still time to voice your opposition! 
Action:  If you share our concerns, please email members of Connecticut's Congressional Delegation , thank them for their opposition of the proposed tax reform bills, and ask that they continue to work to oppose these and other provisions that will adversely impact the work of your land trust and other non-profits.
The Association of Fundraising Professionals is also offering a vehicle for submitting comments on new tax reform bill. Read more >>


New Legislation to Halt Abusive Conservation Easement Transactions
On November 28, the Charitable Conservation Easement Program Integrity Act of 2017 was introduced in the House. This bipartisan legislation is designed to stop syndicated easement transactions in which pass-through entities promote conservation easement donations as a way for investors to make a fast profit by gaining access to very large federal tax deductions.
CLCC joins in supporting the Land Trust Alliance in its effort to halt these transactions because they put at risk the reputation of the land trust community — and potentially the federal tax deduction for conservation easement donations.  Read more >> 


Thank you! As always, we appreciate your thoughtful consideration of these important issues impacting land conservation. It is our job to best protect what we have now for the benefit of future generations -- your partnership and support are crucial to our efforts.
If you have any questions, please contact me anytime.


Amy's Signature

Amy Blaymore Paterson, Esq.
Executive Director