Friday evening, after the Senate passed HB 2468 (37-12), the House voted to concur (177-15) with the Senate’s changes to the bill. The governor is expected to sign the bill.
This is a thrilling victory for conservation!
This landmark, bipartisan legislation provides a crucial safeguard for conservation easements from the unnecessary exercise of eminent domain by school districts and other local units of government. And with it, the General Assembly once again affirms the value of conservation easements in Pennsylvania.
If you reached out to your legislators on this legislation, thank you! Your outreach brought the bill to the finish line. Passage was far from guaranteed—not even remotely likely a few weeks ago—but each of your calls and emails brought us closer to victory. Thank you for acting when needed.
Representatives Warren Kampf (Montgomery/Chester), Kate Harper (Montgomery), and Marcy Toepel (Montgomery) were the chief sponsors. Without their leadership, there would have been no legislation introduced, never mind a bill at the Governor’s desk. Thank you, representatives! Kudos also to Senator Bob Mensch (Berks/Bucks/Montgomery), who played a key role in the bill’s passage.
Every legislator who voted for the bill deserves thanks. Please extend your thanks to them. Find their votes:
As near as PALTA can tell, HB 2468 provides the most far-reaching safeguard for conservation easements against unreasonable exercise of eminent domain in the nation. This achievement is a credit to Pennsylvania’s robust community of land trusts, the wonderful places they have conserved for the public benefit, and the relationships of land trust people with state and local community leaders.
For those concerned with the present eminent domain battles, note that HB 2468 does not apply retroactively. Thus, Natural Lands will continue to challenge the Cumberland Valley School District’s taking of McCormick Farm in court. (Also, the Pennsylvania Land Trust Association plans to file an amicus brief in this case.) Regarding, Stoneleigh, the Lower Merion School District may continue to explore eminent domain but, in addition to having to face a very upset public, it will be bound by the new law, which at its heart states:
The orphans’ court shall review the proposed condemnation and approve the proposed condemnation only if the court determines there is no reasonable and prudent alternative to the utilization of the land subject to a conservation easement for the project.
Thank you once again for all of your efforts!