Rep. TJ Cox
Rep. TJ Cox

A bill that could help disadvantaged Central Valley towns, including ones in Tulare County, provide safe and affordable drinking water, passed its first legislative hurdle despite facing opposition by Republican critics, including GOP representatives from California.

In December 2019, Rep. TJ Cox (D-Fresno) unveiled a $100 million proposal to make improvements in small towns suffering from contaminated drinking water. 

The proposed bill, Disadvantaged Community Drinking Water Assistance Act, will help to "close the gap" in funding for impoverished, mid-sized cities that fall through the cracks under current law, Cox said. 

"We provide the world with fruit and vegetables, but if we can't provide the key ingredient of life for our own people, then I think we've really failed the most basic test of governance," he added, whose district encompasses all of Kings County and parts of Tulare, Fresno and Kern counties. 

The Committee on Natural Resources voted on Wednesday to pass on the bill to a full House vote, the first big step in a legislative process that Cox hopes to see end with the bill being signed into law.

Cox is hopeful that the bill will be voted on by the full House of Representatives later this year. The bill is co-sponsored by his fellow Valley Democrats Jim Costa (D-Fresno) and Josh Harder (D-Turlock).