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June 21
Senate Committee Approves Extension of Secure Rural Schools Funding

With the expiration of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination (SRS) program in 2012, many counties and schools who depend on the annual forest payments have begun to panic over the potential loss of federal funding.  The U.S. Senate may have found an opportunity to extend funding for the program for an additional year through an unexpected legislative vehicle – the Helium Stewardship Act (S. 783), which is commonly referred to as the Helium bill.

On June 18, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee unanimously voted the Helium bill – which includes a one year reauthorization of SRS – out of committee. The next step for the SRS extension will be to survive a floor vote in the Senate. If the extension does survive a floor vote, the Senate-House conference will be the next major obstacle, since the U.S. House of Representatives passed their version of a Helium bill (H.R. 527) without inclusion of SRS earlier this year.

While the Senate and House may differ in their legislative solutions for future forest payments to counties, NACo will continue to urge leadership on both sides of the aisle to act in the spirit of bipartisan and bicameral cooperation and work together to move a final legislative solution to President Obama’s desk. The expiration of SRS will create dramatic budgetary shortfalls for 729 rural counties if Congress fails to renew this federal obligation to rural county governments.

Contact: Ryan R. Yates 202.942.4207​


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