Following a 97-2 vote in the Senate last week, the House of
Representatives voted unanimously on Sept. 26 to approve the Helium Stewardship
Act (H.R. 527). The measure, which would
avert a disruption in the sale of U.S. Helium reserves, also includes a
provision that extends the Secure Rural Schools and Community
Self-Determination Act (SRS) funding for an additional year.
The extension of SRS will avert dramatic budgetary
shortfalls in forest counties nationwide. Continued funding would ensure that students
receive essential education services and that counties have funding for roads,
conservation projects, search and rescue missions, and fire prevention
Per language in the legislation, counties must elect to
receive a share of the state payment or a share of the state’s 25 percent
payment, and elect the share between titles I, II, and III of the state
payment. The USDA Forest Service will soon be issuing guidance related to
deadlines for making county elections.
While NACo applauds congressional action to avert a
disruption in SRS dollars to forested communities, counties nationwide look to
Congress to support a long-term legislative solution which couples payments to
counties and active natural resource management to provide economic stability
to forest counties and communities.
Ryan Yates at firstname.lastname@example.org or