This past week in Washington, we in the House of Representatives passed legislation that would have a positive impact on the economy and the future of the San Joaquin Valley. I wanted to share how these bills could build a stronger Valley economy, strengthen our vibrant agricultural system, and improve future opportunities for Valley residents.
House Passes a Number of Bills Impacting the Valley
On Wednesday, I joined my House colleagues in supporting legislation that would reduce wildfires by streamlining the process for managing trees and vegetation growing near power lines, potentially preventing tragedies like the 2015 Butte fire from occurring in the Valley. We passed this bill, the Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act, on a bipartisan basis by a vote of 300 to 118.
On Thursday the House passed the Strengthening Career Technical Education for the 21stCentury Act, which would help students across the country gain the skills and on the job training they need to find gainful employment and develop a career. Career Technical Education programs have been critical in increasing opportunity and growth in communities like the San Joaquin Valley. In Madera Unified School District alone there are twenty-two different career pathways in multiple industries that provide education and real experience for students to take advantage of.
The House also passed the Water Supply Permitting Coordination Act on Thursday. I spoke on the House floor to urge my colleagues to both support the legislation and Representative LaMalfa’s amendment. The bill proposes a method for expediting the permit process for water storage projects, and Rep. LaMalfa’s amendment allows State-led water storage projects – such as our California project at Temperance Flat – to also use this process. While not perfect, this bill is a good first step in providing timelines for certainty of water storage projects and planning for our future water needs in California. I hope the Senate will move quickly to pass these bills and we will see them signed into law soon.
On Thursday, new Secretary of the Department of Interior, Ryan Zinke, appeared before the House Natural Resources Committee to discuss the new priorities of the Department and its sub-agencies under the Trump Administration and the President’s budget proposal. The cuts proposed in the President’s budget are deeply concerning because they impact a wide variety of agencies whose work affects all Americans, including cuts to National Park Service, the National Wildlife Refuge System, and research on energy conservation, climate change, and water conservation and weather forecasting. During the hearing I asked Secretary Zinke explicitly about the Department’s implementation of the WIIN Act, the first comprehensive water legislation in decades which Congress passed with my strong support at the end of 2016. Proper implementation of this law is important to improving long-term water security in the Valley. To view my interaction with Secretary Zinke, please click on the link below.
Small businesses are the engine that drive our nation’s economy, and it is critical that Congress work to improve conditions to help small businesses grow and thrive. Helping small businesses grow to get our economy moving again is one of my top priorities as a member of Congress. To that end, I recently joined as a cosponsor of the Investing in America’s Small Businesses Act. This bill would extend affordable credit to more small businesses in underserved communities by increasing access to microloan funding, which helps expand business operations and provide critical technical support to business owners. It would also provide grants to establish loan-loss reserve funds, which help Community Development Financial Institutions leverage private investment to provide the funding necessary for businesses to grow. I hope to see this bill voted on in the House of Representatives and taken up in the Senate later this year.
Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter update. As always, please do not hesitate to contact me regarding any federal issues of your concern. To stay up-to-date on the work I am doing in Congress, please visit my website at costa.house.gov and sign up for my e-newsletter here. You can also follow my work and events in our Valley on my Facebook page andtwitter account.
Member of Congress
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