When the DE Agricultural Lands Preservation Act was passed in 2005, the intent was for the program to be fully funded $10 million from the realty transfer tax revenue. Because of other budget constraints in recent years, funding has been significantly less. Rep. Dave Wilson (R) seeks to make the full funding of $10 million constitutional law by proposing HB 124. Passing a constitutional amendment is no easy task. The bill requires a 2/3 vote in each house and must pass 2 consecutive sessions. If passed, HB 124 would not take effect until 2017. On Wednesday, May 13, HB 124 passed through the House Ag Committee.
The synopsis of the bill:
The Delaware Farmland Preservation Fund was created under the Delaware Agricultural Lands Preservation Act in order to conserve, protect, and encourage improvement of agricultural lands within the State. The Legislature has previously expressed its desire that $10 million in receipts from the State Realty Transfer Tax be allocated annually to this fund in order to accomplish its goals. This Act is the first leg of a constitutional amendment that will make this allocation binding on all future administrations and General Assemblies, thus allowing this essential program to continue protecting one of our State’s most important resources.
Voting in favor:
- Rep. Bennett (D)
- Rep. Kenton (R)
- Rep. Carson (D)
- Rep. Wilson (R)
- Rep. Collins (R)
- Rep. Paradee (D)
- Rep. Spiegelman (R)
Not in favor:
- Rep. Q. Johnson (D)
- Rep. Mulrooney (D)
All public comment generously supported the bill and farmers! Many legislators also spoke highly of the ag and poultry industry in DE.If you support this bill and want to see farm land preserved please contact your local legislator! Public testimony came from:
- Kitty Holtz, DFB President
- Pam Bakerian, DFB Executive Director
- Ed Kee, DE Secretary of Ag
- John Hopkins, Kent & Sussex County Farmer
- Peggy Schultz, League of Women Voters
- Brenda Goggin, DE Nature Society
- Bob Garey, Kent County Farmer and Chairman of Aglands Foundation Board of Trustees
Also on the agenda was HCR 30, creating a task force related to the Port of Wilmington. It was tabled so the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Spiegelman (R) could edit the language. Although not in either ag committee, SB 69 passed through the Senate Public Safety Committee. This bill seeks to require helmet use for anyone 18 years old or younger operating a 2 wheel or 3 wheel ATV (all terrain vehicles). Keep in mind, ATV does not refer to a farm vehicle being used for farming. This is specifically stated within the legislation.
Here’s a video clip from Comcast Newsmakers of Rep. Dave Wilson explaining the bill:
Click HERE for a news and audio clip of Ed Kee, DE Secretary of Agriculture explaining the program.