Garamendi reintroduces bill to ensure special districts are eligible for federal coronavirus relief

Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA03) introduced the Special Districts Provide Essential Services Act with U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ).

Original Cosponsors of Rep. Garamendi’s Special Districts Provide Essential Services Act Include: Reps. Val Butler Demings (D-FL10), Derek Kilmer (D-WA06) Barbara Lee (D-CA13), Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA32), Bobby L. Rush (D-IL01), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA20), Julia Brownley (D-CA26), Ami Bera (D-CA07), Robin L. Kelly (D-IL02), Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR04), Charlie Crist (D-FL13), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX35), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA18), Jim Costa (D-CA16), Mark Takano (D-CA41), Salud O. Carbajal (D-CA24), Scott H. Peters (D-CA52), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA11), Jerry McNerney (D-CA09), Alan S. Lowenthal (D-CA47), Mike Thompson (D-CA05)

Garamendi received the “Federal Legislator of the Year” award from the California Special Districts Association this week for his authorship of this legislation, and for his work to support California’s special districts.

Special districts are units of local government that provide public services cities and counties do not provide for residents. Those services include first responders, firefighting, public health, transit, and more.

This bicameral legislation would ensure that the 2,700 special districts in California and 30,000 special districts nationwide are eligible for any additional federal financial assistance provided by Congress to state, county, and local governments in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, special districts are ineligible for direct federal financial assistance under the “Coronavirus Relief Fund” established by the CARES Act (Public Law 116-13).

“Special districts provide critical services to the communities they serve,” Garamendi said. “As our nation continues to grapple with the effects of COVID-19, Congress must ensure that all local governments have the support they need to deliver the crucial quality of life services their communities rely on. The 237 special districts I represent in Congress provide public health and safety services that my constituents need to beat COVID-19.”

He added, “The Special Districts Provide Essential Services Act will make special districts eligible for future federal assistance that Congress provides to state, county, and municipal governments to combat the ongoing pandemic. I thank Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona for introducing companion legislation in the Senate, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this bill to ensure that every American community has the essential public services they need to weather this storm.”

Specifically, the Special Districts Provide Essential Services Act would provide:

Eligibility for future federal assistance: Makes special districts eligible for direct federal financial assistance appropriated by Congress in the future, along with state, county, and local governments that are also subject to the same oversight requirements. This would not apply retroactively to the $150 billion provided under the CARES Act.

Access to municipal liquidity facility: Provides special districts access to the Federal Reserve’s Municipal Liquidity Facility, which provides states, counties, and cities federally guaranteed “bridge financing” to offset unexpected short-term revenue shortfalls caused by the current pandemic. Like states, counties, and cities, many special districts serve large populations and have the legal authority to issue short-term tax and revenue anticipation notes. However, special districts are not currently granted direct access to the Municipal Liquidity Facility.