Legislative update: New bill introduced to fund the Trust!

By Anna Gray on March 10, 2022 in Blog

The 2022 Iowa legislative session has been eventful for conservation, presenting both opportunities and challenges. Proposals have included a tax plan to Fund the Natural Resources & Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund, provisions to repeal the Charitable Conservation Contribution Tax Credit, and a bill that limits landowners’ ability to contribute land to expand public parks, trails, and wildlife areas.

Now, just over halfway through the legislative session, here are the notable updates for INHF’s top conservation issues and advocacy opportunities:

Natural Resources & Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund

A new bill has been introduced to fund the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund! SSB 3157 was introduced Wednesday, March 9, as a revived proposal to fund the voter-approved Trust Fund. At the beginning of the year, Governor Reynolds and legislative leaders made clear that tax reform would be a central focus for the legislative session. The Governor, the Iowa House and the Iowa Senate each introduced tax bills — but only the Senate proposal included provisions to fund the Trust Fund. The legislature reached a consensus for tax reform and on March 1st the Governor signed a tax plan into law without funding for the Trust Fund. Fortunately, there is still plenty of time in the session for the legislature to pass SSB 3157 and fund the Trust Fund this year! Now is the time to contact your legislators and the Governor's office to let them know that you support funding the Trust!

Learn more about why INHF supports SSB 3157

Conservation Contribution Tax Credit

In addition to Funding the Trust, SSB 3157 eliminates the Charitable Conservation Contribution Tax Credit. The tax credit is available to landowners who make a donation of land value for the purpose of conservation. The program has helped permanently protect more than 14,000 acres of natural and agricultural land across Iowa. This includes private land that is protected by conservation easements for agricultural uses, wildlife habitat and scenic beauty. INHF supports keeping the CCC Tax Credit and is asking the Senate to amend the bill and preserve this valuable conservation tool.

Landowner contributions to public open spaces (SF 2312)

Senate File 2312 places caps on the amount landowners can receive from the sale of their property to a county conservation board (CCBs) or the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. By restricting the amount that CCBs and the DNR can spend in expanding parks, trails and wildlife areas — this bill would kill efforts to establish new public conservation and outdoor recreation land in Iowa. These caps not only impede on the private property rights of landowners to receive fair market value for their property from the buyer of their choice, they also deny state tax deductions for charitable bargain sales to CCBs or the DNR. The bill also ignores any value of public lands — such as water quality, wildlife habitat, and flood mitigation — when determining land value. SF 2312 has passed out of the Senate Natural Resources committee and is eligible for debate in the full Senate. INHF will continue to work with legislators to address concerns about public lands, while preserving the rights of landowners to receive a fair and reasonable price for contributing to a public open space.

Now is the time to contact your legislators and the Governor to voice your support for investing in water quality, public parks, trails, and wildlife habitat! When contacting lawmakers, tell them who you are, where you're from and why these things are important to you.

  • Keep it local: Lead with personal experience and discuss how your community will be impacted by legislative decisions.
  • Make your request clear: Respectfully ask that your legislator support or fund a specific program that you care about.
  • Be courteous: Thank them for their time and service.