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Monday, August 10, 2020

Special districts see support in Congress for future COVID-19 relief

Posted By on Mon, Aug 10, 2020 at 3:33 PM

In July community services districts throughout California, including those in San Luis Obispo County, submitted letters of support for federal legislation that would make them eligible for future relief funds.

At the end of July U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the bipartisan Special Districts Provide Essential Services Act that would ensure fire, sewage, water, public utilities, flood control, and public health special districts are eligible to receive future federal coronavirus relief.

The legislation is a companion bill to House Resolution 7073, which was introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this year. The resolution proposes that special districts be eligible for payments from the Coronavirus Relief Fund if more than $150 billion is appropriated to the fund.

Neil McCormick, chief executive officer of the California Special Districts Association, said special districts have achieved another milestone with the introduction of the Special Districts Provide Essential Services Act.

“S.B. 4308 is a bipartisan bill that builds on its House companion bill (H.R. 7073) to provide greater access to future Coronavirus Relief appropriations. This bill is absolutely necessary for districts to continue providing millions of Californians with critical infrastructure, emergency response, and community enrichment services as COVID-19 continues to harm special districts’ fiscal bottom lines with $1.26 billion in estimated impacts through Fiscal Year 2021,” McCormick said.

He said special districts will continue working with national stakeholders to include the Senate bill in the legislative deal currently being negotiated.

“We thank Sens. Feinstein and Harris for their early support of this initiative,” McCormick said.

The House legislation and recent companion bill were created after nearly 3,400 special districts statewide were ineligible for direct federal financial assistance under the CARES Act.

Local special districts reaching out to legislators for support include the Templeton, Cambria, and Los Osos community services districts, and the Cambria Community Healthcare District, Coastal San Luis Resource Conservation District, and Upper Salinas-Las Tablas Resource Conservation District.
—Karen Garcia
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