Sinema Reintroduces Bipartisan Bill Ensuring Arizona’s Fire, Utility, and Infrastructure Special Districts Receive Coronavirus Relief Funding

Jan 28, 2021

Sinema continues her efforts ensuring all 310 special districts across Arizona have access to critical coronavirus relief funding

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Senator John Cornyn (Texas) reintroduced the bipartisan Special Districts Provide Essential Services Act—legislation ensuring Arizona fire, sewage, water, power public utilities, flood control, and public health special districts are eligible to receive future federal coronavirus relief. This bicameral legislation was introduced Sinema in the 116thCongress, and a companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman John Garamendi.
“Arizona’s special districts safeguard Arizonans from deadly fires, manage our water security, and help protect public health. With the coronavirus continuing to affect too many Arizonans, these local entities must receive their fair share of coronavirus relief,” 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.”
“We thank Senator Sinema and her team for their perseverance in these unprecedented times. Their continued efforts to aid America’s Fire Districts is vitally important as we have been excluded from all federal relief funding. Our agencies have been on the front line against COVID since day one, and our costs related to the virus continue to rise adding additional strain to already tight budgets. With Senator Sinema’s assistance, we will be able to ensure our operations do not falter,” said Scott A Freitag, Fire Chief, Central Arizona Fire and Medical, President, Arizona Fire Chiefs Association.
“Arizona’s county treasurers work closely with our special districts to manage, distribute, and collect funds on their behalf. We have seen firsthand the pandemics’ impacts on their operations  and their lack of access to local governments’ COVID-19 relief funds. Our state’s districts provide critical infrastructure services such as fire protection, water, irrigation and electricity, and employ a sector of the essential workforce. All of Arizona’s special districts’ access to this vital program is overdue, and we thank Senator Sinema for again making their fair access to local government relief a priority. With access to relief, we will be sure essential workers can keep their jobs, continue emergency response services, keep the water flowing and the lights on,” said Sarah Benatar, Coconino County Treasurer, President of the Arizona County Treasurer’s Association.

Special districts are self-governing political subdivisions of states that provide public services such as fire protection and water sanitation. There are 310 special districts across Arizona, and they were ineligible for direct federal financial assistance under previous coronavirus relief legislation. Sinema’s 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.
The Arizona Fire Districts Association, the Arizona Fire Chiefs Association, the Arizona County Treasurers Association, the Arizona Irrigation & Electrical Districts Association, the National Water Resources Association, the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the National Association of Emergency and Fire Officials, the National Recreation and Park Association, the National Rural Water Association, the National Volunteer Fire Council, and the Agribusiness and Water Council of Arizona all support Sinema’s Special Districts Provide Essential Services Act