Legislative Update

Senior Policy and Advocacy Manager Elizabeth McCartney, IA Vice President Warren Gorowitz, CLIA, and Government and Public Affairs Director John Farner visited Capitol Hill to discuss efficient water use policies.

All Eyes on the White House as Congress and State Legislatures Wrap Up Work Before the November Election

By Elizabeth McCartney

Congress members returned from a seven- week recess on Sept. 6 to find themselves in a sprint to finish mandatory spending bills, along with a few other high-profile votes, before the end of the federal government’s fiscal year on Sept. 30. As this issue goes to press, it is almost certain Congress will recess for the Nov. 8 elec- tion with an agreement on government spending passed and signed by President Obama.

What this means for issues close to the irri- gation industry remains unclear. Among the bills currently before Congress are the Water Resources Development Act, the Energy Policy Modernization Act, as well as Western drought legislation. If Congress passes the Water Resources Development Act, this would resume Congress’ two-year cycle for the water infrastructure-funding bill.

The Irrigation Association continues to advocate for the passage of these bills in Congress, before they recess on Sept. 30, with the following specifics:

• Authorization of the U.S. EPA’s Water- Sense program. Authorizing language is currently included in the Energy Policy Modernization Act as well as the Senate version of the Water Resources Develop- ment Act.

• Increased funding for water infrastruc- ture projects currently contained in the

House and Senate versions of the Water Resources Development Act.

• Changes in the enforcement of the En- dangered Species Act in California’s Bay Delta, specifically focusing on increasing the amount of water allocated to farms and rural communities.

Congress will also be addressing Zika funding and potential relief from the recent flooding in Louisiana. Though these initiatives do not seem to be controversial, the amount of funding and scope of the projects are contested between the major- ity and minority parties.

In the states, many of the legislatures either have adjourned or will adjourn for the year in the next few weeks. Water, specifically outdoor and agricultural water use, continues to be an area of focus. This focus will continue to increase into 2017. The priorities of the IA in 2017 will not only be to continue acting as a “watch dog” for issues of importance, but also protectively provide solutions to state legislators and regulators for water, agricultural and land- scape issues though efficient irrigation, research and sound policy.

In addition to these state legislative efforts, tax reform, regulations, research funding and farm bill preparations will headline the IA’s activity on Capitol Hill throughout 2017.

Julie Bushell, Paige Electric Company, visited her state representative to discuss issues regarding water regulations.

However, much of Congress’ focus in 2017 will hinge upon who wins the 2016 pres- idential election. Though the candidates have not addressed water or agriculture on a regular basis, each has an advisory group that the IA is working with on issues relating to irrigation, agriculture and the environment. The IA will continue to serve as an advisory vehicle for each of the cam- paigns through the election and transition in to the White House.

Next issue’s column will break down the presidential and key congressional races and how the results may affect the irriga- tion industry next year and beyond. 11

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