A picture of Senator Max Baucus
Max B.
Former Democrat MT
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    Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

    by Former Senator Max Baucus

    Posted on 2013-03-12

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    BAUCUS (for himself and Mr. Hatch): S. 526. A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to make permanent the special rule for contributions of qualified conservation contributions, and for other purposes; to the Committee on Finance.

    Mr. BAUCUS. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce the Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act of 2013.

    As we continue to find ways to tackle the important issues of this nation's long-term future, we begin this new congress with an opportunity to take responsibility. This includes the ways we look to safeguard our land. Today, I am introducing the Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act as part of our collective mission to ensure a prosperous nation for future generations.

    We all know our land has a deeper worth than the goods we have cultivated or extracted from beneath the earth. It is our heritage. And when a piece of our heritage is lost, we do not simply lose its future value in dollars. We also lose the wildlife habitat and the open areas that may be enjoyed by people from around the world, on top of the very personal value it has held for generations of landowners. It is our job in government, as stewards of the land, to safeguard this precious gift for our grandchildren and to provide support to the farmers, ranchers and other hard-working landowners who rely on it to make a living.

    For this reason we have decided to provide targeted income tax relief to small farmers and ranchers who donate their land under a qualified conservation easement. The provision increases the deduction amount eligible farmers and ranchers may receive for charitable contributions of qualified conservation easements by raising the adjusted gross income limitation from 50 percent to 100 percent and extending the carryover period from 5 years to 15 years. For all other landowners, the AGI limitation was raised from 30 percent to 50 percent. This provision was included in the fiscal cliff package and will expire at the end of this year. The bill before you, the Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act of 2013, will make this valuable incentive permanent.

    Conversation easements have been established as an effective land preservation method across the country. In Montana, we currently have over 2.1 million acres covered by conservation easements. To some, that may seem like a large amount, but this is Montana, and those easements are only 2.2 percent of the total state land area. But we leverage far more value out of these easements because they are often located within or next to large tracts of public lands. In Montana, we fully recognize the importance of using these easements to protect our lands. Now is the time to help my country and my State to do all they can.

    [[Page S1712]] This legislative body, the individual States, and the Nation together should stand up for future generations and declare that the time for land preservation is now. I believe that we should do all we can to help landowners afford to choose conservation and preservation, and this bill is a step in the right direction. Let us get rid of the uncertainty that comes with temporary provisions and build on the success of what we have already begun to do. Let us pass the Rural Heritage Conservation Extension Act.

    ______ By Mr. REED (for himself, Mr. Whitehouse, Mr. Cardin, Ms. Klobuchar, Mr. Franken, Ms. Warren, and Mr. Cowan): S. 527. A bill to provide for the adjustment of status of certain nationals of Liberia to that of lawful permanent residents; to the Committee on the Judiciary.

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