Conservation easements; tax benefits, disputes over easement terms. (HB1488)

Introduced By

Del. Brenda Pogge (R-Williamsburg) with support from 10 copatrons, whose average partisan position is:

Those copatrons are Del. Rob Bell (R-Charlottesville), Del. Matt Fariss (R-Rustburg), Del. Bill Howell (R-Fredericksburg), Del. Mark Keam (D-Vienna), Del. Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington), Del. Jackson Miller (R-Manassas), Del. Bobby Orrock (R-Thornburg), Del. David Ramadan (R-South Riding), Del. Margaret Ransone (R-Kinsale), Sen. Scott Surovell (D-Mount Vernon)


Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law


Conservation easements; tax benefits; disputes over terms. Prohibits the owner of a fee interest in land that is subject to a conservation easement accepted on or after July 1, 2016, from receiving certain tax benefits or tax credits if the easement is co-held, contains a third-party right of enforcement, or omits notice of the holder's enforcement guidelines. The bill also requires the holder's enforcement guidelines, if the fee owner is to receive the tax benefits, to define "agriculture" to include small-scale family farming practices. The bill removes from the list of parties that have legal standing to bring an action affecting a conservation easement the Virginia Historic Landmarks Board, a person with a third-party right of enforcement, the local government, and any other agency or person with standing under other laws. The bill authorizes the Virginia Outdoors Foundation (VOF) to issue decisions on disputes over the interpretation of easement instruments where those disputes are not already in litigation. The bill requires the Foundation, in deciding such cases, to follow the Administrative Process Act, except that it is required to construe ambiguous easement terms in favor of the landowner and to construe "agriculture" to include small-scale family farming practices. The bill also requires the Department of Conservation and Recreation to report, without identifying them, individual easement donations and requires the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to conduct an annual public hearing to assess whether private holders of conservation easements comply with best practices. Read the Bill »


Bill Has Passed


01/05/2015Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/14/15 15102502D
01/05/2015Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources
01/28/2015Reported from Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources with substitute (20-Y 2-N) (see vote tally)
01/28/2015Committee substitute printed 15104154D-H1
01/29/2015Read first time
01/30/2015Read second time
01/30/2015Committee substitute agreed to 15104154D-H1
01/30/2015Engrossed by House - committee substitute HB1488H1
02/02/2015Impact statement from DPB (HB1488H1)
02/02/2015Read third time and passed House (87-Y 9-N)
02/02/2015VOTE: PASSAGE (87-Y 9-N) (see vote tally)
02/03/2015Constitutional reading dispensed
02/03/2015Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources
02/12/2015Reported from Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources (12-Y 2-N 1-A) (see vote tally)
02/16/2015Constitutional reading dispensed (38-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/17/2015Read third time
02/17/2015Passed Senate (32-Y 5-N) (see vote tally)
02/17/2015Reconsideration of Senate passage agreed to by Senate (38-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)
02/17/2015Passed Senate (32-Y 6-N) (see vote tally)
02/20/2015Bill text as passed House and Senate (HB1488ER)
02/20/2015Impact statement from DPB (HB1488ER)
02/20/2015Signed by Speaker
02/23/2015Signed by President
02/24/2015G Governor's Action Deadline Midnight, Monday, March 30, 2015
02/24/2015Enrolled Bill communicated to Governor on 2/24/15
02/24/2015G Governor's Action Deadline Midnight, Sunday, March 29, 2015
03/10/2015G Approved by Governor-Chapter 44 (effective 7/1/15)
03/10/2015G Acts of Assembly Chapter text (CHAP0044)


This bill was discussed on the floor of the General Assembly. Below is all of the video that we have of that discussion, 2 clips in all, totaling 2 minutes.


Dean writes:

This is government overreach. Let the private holders of the easements work it out. Why the heck should the state government be allowed to legislate terms of a contractual agreement between parties? Don't like terms, don't enter into such agreements. More nanny government.

Alicia writes:

Dean, you are very emotionally charged. Obviously you are with the Piedmont Environmental Council that was caught on video and in writing violating the Conservation Easement Act, colluding and conspiring as well as trespassing in a well documented land grab scam.

The Conservation Program is paid for by our tax dollars to the tune of $100million dollars a year. Additionally fake tax credits are also used. The entire program was created by an act of the General Assembly. If this bill doesn't pass, the entire conservation program is in jeopardy of failing and being defunded.

These conservation easements are not "private holders". In fact, they are intended to be for the public good and paid for off the backs of tax paying citizens.

The Piedmont Environmental Council has possibly committed the worst fraudulent conservation easement transaction in the history of Virginia.

The pubic is very concerned that ANY land trust would not support a bill that is 100% voluntary and not binding. What do you have to hide PEC and Nature COnservancy? Afraid fraud, conspiracy and land grabbing will be exposed?

Don't commit fraud and you have nothing to worry about

Josie Alvarez writes:

I AM VERY SUSPICIOUS OF ANY LAND TRUST THAT DOESN'T WANT a landowner to be able to ask a question of the Virginia Land Trust Foundation that is a bi-partisan foundation that includes private property owners.

What does this say about a program that does not want to help the landowner and wants to operate in secrecy?

The PEC smells very bad in this matter. To Quote Heather Richards in her Nanny Police State Terrifying Video, " HEY PEC, if you have nothing to hide, why don't you want the public to know what you are doing?"

Sick of my tax dollars funding this bogus conservation program the includes "selling tax credits". What a disgusting assault on Virginia tax payers.

robert legge writes:

What is the practical effect of this?

Walter writes:

Is it just me, or did the substitute bill result in a very watered down version of Pogges original intent? The tea partiers in Fauquier and Culpeper are suggesting a win but I don't see how with the bill that came out of committee.

John Albertson writes:

To "Walter", why are you stirring the pot?

This looks like a compromise and a good one at that. Why are you trying to polarize and divide the public? Do you want the program to be hacked at more? Isn't it enough that it is being defunded from $100 million to $75 million?

THINK before you post stuff that does nothing but fuel the fires of more scrutiny.