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Bill Detail: HB19-1091

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Title Conservation Easement Transparency
Status House Committee on Rural Affairs & Agriculture Postpone Indefinitely (02/04/2019)
Bill Subjects
  • Local Government
  • State Government
House Sponsors K. Lewis (R)
Senate Sponsors
House Committee Rural Affairs and Agriculture
Senate Committee
Date Introduced 01/14/2019
Description

A conservation easement is an agreement in which a property
owner agrees to limit the use of his or her land in perpetuity in order to
protect one or more specified conservation purposes. The instruments
creating the conservation easement are recorded in the public records
affecting the ownership of the property. The conservation easement is
held by a third party, which monitors the use of the land and ensures that
the terms of the agreement are upheld.
Prior to creating a conservation easement, the bill requires the

property owner to sign a disclosure form acknowledging certain specified
consequences and risks of creating the easement on his or her land.
The bill requires the commissioner of agriculture to work with
local government officials to create a database of conservation easements
in the state. The database includes specified information about the
easements and a corresponding map displaying each easement in the state
relative to county boundaries. Local government officials and the
commissioner of agriculture are authorized to enter into contracts to assist
in gathering information for the database. The bill specifies the sources
of information that may be used to create the database. The commissioner
of agriculture is required to annually update the information in the
database and make the information and corresponding map available to
the public at no charge on the department of agriculture's website.
When a conservation easement agreement, amendment, or transfer
is recorded with a county clerk and recorder, the bill requires a complete
copy of the agreement, amendment, or transfer to be submitted to the
commissioner of agriculture and the county tax assessor of the county in
which the easement is located. The commissioner of agriculture is
required to create a tracking form with specified information for each
conservation easement agreement, amendment, or transfer submitted. The
tracking forms are made available on the department of agriculture's
website and can be used by the commissioner of agriculture to create and
maintain the database of conservation easements.
If a single property owner acquires both a conservation easement
and title to the underlying property, current law allows the conservation
easement to be released, terminated, extinguished, or abandoned by a
process known as merger. The bill prohibits a conservation easement
from being extinguished by taking fee title to the land to which the
conservation easement is attached.
For any state income tax credit claimed for a donation of a
conservation easement that is disallowed, the bill allows a landowner to
elect to either extinguish the conservation easement for which the credit
was claimed or receive an equitable relief payment from the state. If a
landowner elects to extinguish the conservation easement, the bill
requires the department of revenue to reimburse the taxpayer for all
reasonable costs incurred by the landowner in establishing the
conservation easement donation as well any federal or state income tax
liability incurred by the taxpayer. The attorney general is required to assist
landowners with executing any documents required to seek a court order
to extinguish a conservation easement.

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with Amendments
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Fiscal Notes Fiscal Notes (01/31/2019) (most recent)  
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