December 17, 2021, Number 47
Download the full .pdf version here: TML Legislative Update Number 47
secretary of state releases may 2022 election law calendar
Last week, the Secretary of State’s Elections Division released Election Advisory No. 2021-23, which is the May 2022 Election Law Calendar detailing important election-related deadlines and laws for the upcoming May uniform election date. For cities holding May elections, significant dates include:
- December 20, 2021 – Last day for city to post notice of deadline to file applications for place on the ballot
- January 19, 2022 – First day to file an application for a place on the ballot
- February 18, 2022 – Last day to file an application for a place on the ballot for general election
- April 25, 2022 – First day to vote early in person
- May 3, 2022 – Last day to vote early in person
- May 7, 2022 – Election Day
One other point of interest for city officials: The legislature passed two joint resolutions (S.J.R 2 in second special session and S.J.R. 2 in third special session) necessitating constitutional amendment elections during the 2021 special sessions. Because the resolutions passed so close to the 2021 November uniform election date—the usual time for constitutional amendment elections—the elections for these constitutional amendments were pushed to the 2022 May uniform election date. This means that every county in the state will be conducting constitutional amendment elections in May 2022.
This fact holds some significance for Texas cities conducting May elections. Under state law, county election administrators may refuse to provide election services by contract to cities and other political subdivisions for the May uniform election date in an even-numbered year due to the proximity of the May election to the primary runoff date and complications with providing sufficient election resources. However, because every county will be conducting May elections in 2022 on the two constitutional amendments, counties will likely be more amendable to assisting other political subdivisions on this date. In recognition of the unique situation in May 2022, the Secretary of State’s is strongly recommending that counties contract with political subdivisions to ensure uniform polling places for voters in May 2022.
u.s. census count question resolution begins next month
The U.S. Census Bureau is set to open the 2020 Census Count Question Resolution operation (CQR) to all governmental units on January 3, 2022. The CQR provides cities an opportunity to request that the Census Bureau review their boundaries and/or housing count to correct any potential errors that may have occurred while processing the 2020 Census counts. Any interested city must submit their case to the U.S. Census Bureau by June 30, 2023.
Any corrections made will not impact the apportionment counts, redistricting data, or any other 2020 Census data products. However, they would be used in the Census Bureau’s Population Estimates and other future programs that use 2020 Census data. The Census Bureau sent an introductory letter on the operation to all eligible governmental units earlier this month.
federal infrastructure bill update
In November 2021, the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) was signed into law. The IIJA is altogether a $1.2 trillion bill that will invest in the nation’s core infrastructure priorities including roads, bridges, rail, transit, airports, ports, energy transmission, water systems, and broadband.
The League will monitor state and federal agencies and work with the National League of Cities (NLC) to access the latest information relating to the IIJA. We will be providing periodic updates in the Legislative Update on resources for Texas cities on how to access IIJA funding for local infrastructure projects.
Governor’s Letter to State Agencies on IIJA Funding
On Tuesday, Governor Abbott sent this letter to state agency heads encouraging them to closely review the terms and conditions of accepting federal funding under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). Though the letter doesn’t directly address Texas cities, Texas cities stand to potentially receive funding for water, sewer, transportation, and broadband infrastructure projects under the IIJA, either in the form of direct grants from the federal government or through federal dollars being passed through state agencies. Allocation of IIJA funds is in the very early stages, and the federal funds are set to be allocated over the next five years. The League will continue to follow developments at the state and federal level that might impact the availability of funding to Texas cities.
filing period for primary election closed; several legislators not returning
On Monday, the filing period for the 2022 primary election closed. As we previously reported, several legislators have announced their retirement or intent to seek election to a different office. In some cases, the new district maps have prompted a member to run for a different seat in the same chamber. The members listed below have announced they will not run for their current seat, whether due to retirement or to run for other office. Again, some of the members listed below may return to the legislature representing a different district, or in a different capacity altogether:
- Rep. Michelle Beckley (D – Carrollton)
- Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R – Fredericksburg)
- Rep. Jeff Cason (R – Bedford)
- Rep. Garnet Coleman (D – Houston)
- Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D – Dallas)
- Rep. John Cyrier (R – Lockhart)
- Rep. Joe Deshotel (D -– Beaumont)
- Rep. Alex Dominguez (D – Brownsville)
- Rep. John Frullo (R – Lubbock)
- Rep. Dan Huberty (R - Houston)
- Rep. Celia Israel (D – Austin)
- Rep. Phil King (R – Weatherford)
- Rep. Matt Krause (R – Fort Worth)
- Rep. Lyle Larson (R – San Antonio)
- Rep. Ben Leman (R – Anderson)
- Rep. Eddie Lucio III (D – Brownsville)
- Rep. Mayes Middleton (R – Wallisville)
- Rep. Ina Minjarez (D – San Antonio)
- Rep. Jim Murphy (R -– Houston)
- Rep. Claudia Ordaz-Perez (D – El Paso)
- Rep. Chris Paddie (R – Marshall)
- Rep. Tan Parker (R – Flower Mound)
- Rep. Eddie Rodriguez (D – Austin)
- Rep. Scott Sanford (R – McKinney)
- Rep. James Talarico (D – Round Rock)
- Rep. John Turner (D – Dallas)
- Rep. James White (R – Hillister)
- Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R – Lakeway)
- Sen. Eddie Lucio (D – Brownsville)
- Sen. Jane Nelson (R – Flower Mound)
- Sen. Larry Taylor (R – Friendswood)
- Sen. Kel Seliger (R – Amarillo)
A full list of candidates running in the March 2022 primary can be found on the Secretary of State’s website.
covid-19 update (no. 212)
All pandemic-related updates, including information about the American Rescue Plan’s city-related provisions, will be in this Legislative Update Newsletter from now on.
American Rescue Plan Act Funds: Non-Entitlement Unit Portal
On December 14, Treasury released the Treasury Portal that NEUs who have requested funding from their state will use for reporting and compliance. Treasury encourages all NEU recipients to access the Treasury Portal as soon as possible in order to confirm their accounts, designate State and Local Fiscal Reporting Fund reporting roles, and submit the required agreements and supporting documentation to Treasury. A User Guide can be found here.
The Treasury’s Compliance and Reporting Guidance details the reporting requirements for all recipients, including NEUs. As a reminder, the first reporting deadline for NEUs to submit the Project and Expenditure Report is April 30, 2022 and will cover the period between March 3, 2021 and March 31, 2022. Future reports will be due annually by the end of April.
CARES Act Update
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act established the $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF). The CARES Act provides that payments from the CRF may only be used to cover costs that were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020 and ends on December 31, 2021 (the “covered period”).
Although Treasury considers the CRF to be a program designed for short-term needs of recipients, local governments continue to be on the frontlines of the pandemic response. In addition, disruptions in supply chains and the Delta surge have hindered cities’ abilities to use the funds within the covered period, and recent litigation has delayed the receipt of allocated payments from the CRF until the last few months. In response, Treasury is now revising the guidance to provide that a cost associated with a necessary expenditure incurred due to the public health emergency shall be considered to have been incurred by December 31, 2021, if the recipient has incurred an obligation with respect to such cost by December 31, 2021. Click here for more information and to read updated CARES Act FAQs related to this extension.
EEOC Guidance Related to COVID-19
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its COVID-19 technical assistance on December 14 adding a new section to clarify under what circumstances COVID-19 may be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act.
EEOC’s new questions and answers focus broadly on COVID-19 and the definition of disability under Title I of the ADA and Section 501 of the Rehabilitation Act, which both address employment discrimination. The updates also provide examples illustrating how an individual diagnosed with COVID-19 or a post-COVID condition could be considered to have a disability under the laws the EEOC enforces.
TML member cities may use the material herein for any purpose. No other person or entity may reproduce, duplicate, or distribute any part of this document without the written authorization of the Texas Municipal League.