As a result of effective advocacy from the Working Lands Alliance (a project of AFT), the Connecticut legislature passed Senate Bill 347 – a bill that eliminates what is known as "the 70% rule". This rule, which has been in statute since 2008, capped the total amount of federal and state grant funds that can be used to conserve land through the state's Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition Program at 70% of the land's total appraised value. This has placed an unnecessary burden on land trusts and municipalities to raise the remaining 30% match to preserve farmland and open space.
The effort to remove this cap is part of WLA's 2015 Policy Agenda and our coalition had been working with key legislators to advance this bill. Senate Bill 347, which passed unanimously in both the House and Senate, raises the cap on total federal and state funding from 70% to 90% of the appraised value of the land, but also provides the Commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection discretion to remove the cap entirely if certain conditions are met. "This bill is a win for conservation in Connecticut, and will better allow our land trusts to leverage the federal and state funds available to protect our farmland and open space. We are grateful that our legislators understood that the state should be facilitating land protection efforts, and this bill will help do just that", said Lisa Bassani, Project Director for the Working Lands Alliance.