July 30, 2020

Harris, Sinema, Cornyn Introduce Bipartisan Legislation Ensuring Special Districts Receive COVID-19 Relief Funding, Providing Critical Services to Millions of Americans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and John Cornyn (D-TX) last week introduced the bipartisan Special Districts Provide Essential Services Act—legislation ensuring fire, sewage, water, power public utilities, flood control, and public health special districts are eligible to receive future federal coronavirus relief. This vital federal funding will allow special districts to provide critical services to communities throughout the nation. This bicameral legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman John Garamendi.

Special districts are unique political subdivisions that serve constituents by providing services such as, fire protection, energy, healthcare, transportation, water and wastewater services, in addition to parks and other services that communities rely on. With constrained budgets, special districts need access to capital during this economic downturn, similar to traditional state and local governments. Unfortunately, to date, special districts have not been considered eligible to access the aid Congress has allocated to address impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect communities in California and across the nation, we must ensure that special districts, which can provide critical services such as firefighting, energy and water, healthcare, transportation, and recreation, have access to coronavirus relief funding,” said Harris. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing the Special Districts Provide Essential Services Act–– our bill will give special districts the federal assistance they need to provide critical services to their communities during this uncertain time.”

“Arizona’s special districts safeguard Arizonans from deadly fires, manage our water security, and help protect public health. These local entities must receive a fair share of coronavirus relief in future legislative packages,” said Sinema. 

“Texans keeping our lights on and water running, or serving others as firefighters and public health workers, deserve additional support during the coronavirus pandemic,” said Cornyn. “By giving them the resources they need, we can ensure they’re able to continue providing the essential services our communities rely on.”

There are nearly 3,400 special districts across California, and they were ineligible for direct federal financial assistance under the CARES Act.

The Special Districts Provide Essential Services Act ensures that special districts are eligible for future financial assistance, and will provide them access to the Federal Reserve’s Municipal Liquidity Facility.

Bill text can be found HERE.