Legislative Update

Apr 02, 2018
The Oregon Legislature’s recent “short” session was a relatively quiet one on the conservation front. Highlights include rulemaking for the Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program.

The Oregon Legislature’s recent “short” session was a relatively quiet one on the conservation front. With last year’s enactment of the Oregon Agricultural Heritage Program, Oregon’s land trust community (through the Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts, COLT), has been largely focused on rulemaking for the new program. Administrative rulemaking should be completed this year, at which point COLT, along with our partners will then look to the legislature to fund the new program during the 2019 session.  

On the federal front, all eyes have been on what the Trump administration and Congress would do with the many programs that land trusts and our partners rely upon to fund big acquisition or restoration projects. Thus far, it’s been a mixed bag with the administration proposing to slash funding and Congress largely maintaining the status quo for funding many programs. A key concern has been the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which allocates a portion of federal off-shore oil drilling royalties for a variety of conservation programs, including the Forest Legacy Program (potential funding source for Skyline Forest). Interestingly, the recent FY2018 Omnibus Appropriations Bill actually increased funding for LWCF for the current fiscal year, but failed to reauthorize the program for future years, a program which is scheduled to sunset this coming September.

Finally, of some concern is the potential impact from recent tax law changes, which will reduce the number of taxpayers who itemize their deductions. While there is a great deal of speculation as to the magnitude of the impacts on charitable giving, the reality is that we really won’t know what will happen until the end of the current tax year.  Obviously, we hope the recent changes won’t impact our bottomline and the scale of our conservation work. Stay tuned.

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