General Assembly Priorities for 2020
The Virginia General Assembly is currently in session and debating many issues that matter to us all. As your regional land trust, NVCT is tracking and advocating for legislation that pertains to land conservation in Northern Virginia as well as for budget priorities that would bring much-needed investment to our parks, wildlife, and natural areas. Here are a number of specific bills we are following and our position on them, as well as this handy fact sheet of our funding requests. If you have time, please consider calling your State senators and delegates to urge them to protect and invest in our lands, water, and wildlife during the ongoing General Assembly.
HB 314 Historical African American cemeteries; Loudoun County (Support)
This bill adds Mt. Zion Old School Baptist Church Cemetery in Loudoun County to the list of cemeteries for which qualified organizations may receive funds from the Department of Historic Resources for the care of historical African American cemeteries and graves.
HB 379 Historical African American cemeteries; Arlington County (Support)
This bill adds three cemeteries in Arlington County to the list of cemeteries for which qualified organizations may receive funds from the Department of Historic Resources for the care of historical African American cemeteries and graves. The cemeteries are Calloway Cemetery, Lomax Cemetery, and Mount Salvation Cemetery
HB 1156 Historic rehabilitation tax credit (Support)
This bill increases from $5 million to $10 million the maximum amount of the historic rehabilitation tax credit, including amounts carried over from prior taxable years, that may be claimed by a taxpayer in any taxable year.
HB 1424 & SB 407 Virginia Revolutionary 250 Commission (Support)
This bill establishes the Virginia Revolutionary 250 Commission to plan, develop, and perform programs and activities to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution, the Revolutionary War, and the independence of the United States. The bill has an expiration date of July 1, 2027.
HB 1605 & SB 553 Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act (Support)
One of NVCT’s highest priorities during this assembly session, this environmental justice bill protects the rights of property owners who have had land passed down to them informally from generation to generation. The legislation addresses partition action abuses that have led many such Americans to lose their tenancy-in-common property involuntarily in legal proceedings.
HB 1623 Open-Space Lands Preservation For Virginia Outdoors Foundation (Support)
This bill supports one of NVCT’s key partners, the Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF), by raising the existing deed recordation fee VOF receives from $1 to $3, generating significant additional revenue for land conservation across the state.
HB 1695 & SB 1004 Wildlife Corridor Action Plan (Support)
This bill promotes the protection of wildlife corridors across the state through the establishment of a Wildlife Corridor Action Plan. The plan will list priority projects to protect wildlife corridors and improve road safety in Virginia to meet the conservation goals of the Commonwealth.
SB 604 Land Preservation Tax Credit Verification Requirements (Neutral)
Requires landowners making conservation easement donations to have their project verified by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation if the conservation value of their donation is $500,000 or more. Current law requires such verification for tax credits of $1 million or more. (This bill has been defeated on the Senate floor and is no longer active in the 2020 general assembly)
SB 621 Open-space and conservation easements; rule of construction (Support)
This bill provides that if language in an open-space or conservation easement is ambiguous, such language shall be construed against the landowner and in favor of the conservation easement holder.
SB 854 Virginia Urban Agriculture Advisory Council (Support)
This bill creates the Virginia Urban Agriculture Advisory Council as an advisory council in the legislative branch of state government to encourage urban agriculture and contribute to building a local food economy. The bill has an expiration date of July 1, 2023.