The Imperial County Board of Supervisors at its weekly meeting receives reports on legislative activity affecting the area from county Intergovernmental Relations Director Rebecca Terrazas-Baxter. Here is her report submitted at the Aug. 7 meeting:
The House has adjourned for recess until September 4, 2018. To date, the House has approved six of the 12 spending bills for the fiscal year that begins October 1st (MilCon-VA, Financial Services, Defense, Energy & Water, Interior, & Legislative Branch). The remaining funding bills have passed the House Appropriations Committee and are awaiting floor action. The Senate has passed 7 of the 12 appropriations bills (MilCon-VA, Financial Services, Transportation/HUD, Agriculture, Energy & Water, Interior, & Legislative Branch) and the remaining 5 are awaiting floor action as well. This is likely to occur upon their return from recess. Yet there is some concern that the President’s advocacy for $5 billion for the border wall in the Homeland Security appropriations bill will bring this process to a halt before the new fiscal year begins. The House’s spending bill provides this amount, but the Senate’s bill recommends $1.6 billion. President Trump has threatened a government shut down if he doesn’t receive the funding he has requested for the border wall. This isn’t the only challenge ahead, as the Senate and House conference committees still need to meet to debate some significant programmatic funding differences in their respective appropriations bills.
Now in regards to the Farm bill, staff discussions are taking place but there are no plans for a formal conference committee until after Labor Day. One of the biggest areas of contention is the House bill’s proposed benefit cuts to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as SNAP). Senate GOP leaders are opposed to the proposed benefit reductions. Another issue that may be of interest to the Board is that the Senate version of the Farm Bill would remove hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, but there is no mention of it in the House bill, so this will be one of the items to be reconciled by the conference committee.
Although the House is on a month-long recess, as promised Senate Majority Leader McConnell does plan to have session during August, however the Senate is currently on a week-long break and plan to return August 15, 2018 to consider a whole slew of the Administration’s nominations and a few more appropriations bills.
The State Legislature returned yesterday from their recess and have spared no time in jumping into heavy debate and discussions to garner support of their bills and wrap up this legislative session. In these next four weeks, you will also see Governor Brown tackle remaining big issues for him as the end of his term approaches. We will be watching closely issues related to wildfires and related liability issues, efforts on regionalization of the State’s energy grid, and efforts to increase the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 100 percent, as all of these issues are closely connected.