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HB 1195: Lance Russell Hates Conservation Easements

Wow: what's with the assault on private property rights from the South Dakota Legislature? First Rep. Lora Hubbel (R-11/Sioux Falls) tries to restrict your right to sell your property to the federal government with HB 1166. Now Rep. Lance Russell (R-30/Hot Springs) plagiarizes Hubbel's bad bill and makes something worse: HB 1195.

If Hubbel's folly is a quiet attempt to block conservation easements, Russell's anti-conservation intent is explicit. HB 1195 prohibits anyone from obtaining a conservation easement without permission of the county commission. If you have a little strip of wetland or woods or native prairie that you'd like to see kept as is rather than plowed up, chopped down, or turned into houses and pavement, HB 1195 says you don't have that right. HB 1195 even includes the same powers-twisting language as HB 1166 that sends appeals of county commission decisions not to the courts where they belong but to the Legislature.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife's Dakota Grassland proposal must really irk Rep. Russell and the three colleagues joining him as sponsors of HB 1195. I notice one of those sponsors, Representative David Sigdestad, is a good District 1 Democrat. Alas. I hope the rest of the Legislature will recognize that our property rights include the right not to maximize the taxable value of our property. If certain citizens want to work with government and other organizations to keep some land green, our county commissions and Legislature should not throw barriers in their way.


  1. Bob Klein 2011.01.30

    You are missing a "not" in that last sentence, aren't you?

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.01.30

    No I'm! Thanks, Bob! :-)

  3. Bob Klein 2011.01.30

    I let a lot of things go without correction, but ... that one.

  4. Bob Mercer 2011.01.31

    I don't either representative's motive but I know that conservation easements and other easements are a loose part, so to speak, in the agricultural income approach now being used for setting cropland and non-cropland values for taxes. There was a major struggle over this in the past year and it's still unresolved. The issue is how to set the taxable value for land that was put in easements, and by reducing the taxes on those values, the tax levy has to be spread heavier on other ag property in the county.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2011.02.01

    Bob, conservation easements may reduce tax revenue from specific properties. But that reasoning sounds just like the reasoning behind the Kelo v New London decision that I suspect the sponsors of this legislation found quite objectionable.

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