March 4, 2022, Number 9
Download the full .pdf version here: TML Legislative Update Number 9
enhanced cybersecurity risks
Last Friday, Governor Abbott directed the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR) and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) to use every available resource to safeguard the state’s critical infrastructure and to assist local governments in Texas with their needs in response to an enhanced risk for a Russian cyberattack. The governor outlined critical actions that must be taken by DIR and DPS including:
- Enhance Texas’ cybersecurity through the use of best industry practices and other key measures
- Ensure Texas can quickly detect a potential cyber intrusion through the use of software services, such as antivirus and endpoint detection and response technologies
- Prepare for an intrusion by utilizing a cyber incident response team
- Maximize the state’s resilience to a destructive cyber incident
- Track and report any attacks from Russian sources so the public is fully aware of their tactics
In addition, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) guidance is available at www.cisa.gov/shields-up. The guidance includes steps cities can take as they implement a heightened cybersecurity posture, a list of free cybersecurity resources available to critical infrastructure of all sizes, and guidance on how to prepare and mitigate the impact of potential foreign influence operations. DIR has also issued a press release detailing the rising risks and a list of valuable CISA resources.
During this heightened time, CISA is encouraging all partners to lower their thresholds for reporting potential cyber incidents. If you believe that your city, or a critical infrastructure partner, has experienced a cyber intrusion, please report incidents and anomalous activity to CISA (Central@cisa.gov; 1-888-282-0870) and/or the FBI’s 24/7 CyWatch at (855) 292-3937 or CyWatch@fbi.gov.
texas primary election results
This week, Texans voted in the primary election to select party nominees who will face off in the November general election. The Republican primary resulted in three statewide elected offices that will head into a runoff: attorney general, land commissioner and railroad commissioner. On the Democratic side, four statewide offices will have a runoff: lieutenant governor, attorney general, land commissioner, and comptroller.
The full election results can be found here.
texas comptroller broadband listening tour
H.B. 5 tasked the comptroller with developing a statewide broadband plan (Plan), among other things. The comptroller is currently developing the Plan, and over the next two months, will host 12 free public forums across the state to hear from Texans about internet access across the state. This information will help the newly established Broadband Development Office (BDO) determine how to close the digital divide in Texas. Linked below are two scheduled forums open for registration.
The other nine forums, listed below, have yet to open registration. The Comptroller’s website will continue to be updated when a forum opens registration.
- March 22 in Dallas-Fort Worth at 2:00 p.m.
- March 24 in Amarillo at 11:00 a.m.
- March 31 in Beaumont at 2:00 p.m.
- April 4 in Waco at 2:00 p.m.
- April 6 in Tyler at 2:00 p.m.
- April 7 in Abilene at 1:00 p.m.
- April 11 in El Paso at 1:00 p.m. (local time)
- April 26 in Edinburg at 2:00 p.m.
- April 28 in San Angelo at 1:30 p.m.
City officials unable to attend or who wish to share input before or after an event are encouraged to do so through an online survey. Feedback will be collected through May 5, 2022. Click here to learn more about the BDO and its programs aimed at closing the digital divide in Texas.
treasury releases updated slfrf compliance and reporting guidance
On February 28, 2022, Treasury released updated Compliance and Reporting Guidance for the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) program. The guidance includes updates to reporting requirements to reflect the SLFRF final rule that Treasury adopted on January 6, 2022. The updated guidance includes two parts. Part 1 contains general guidance related to key principles of the SLFRF program, statutory eligible uses of SLFRF funds, and award terms and conditions. Part 2 provides updated reporting requirements which vary depending on the population of the city receiving the funds and the size of the award. These updates take effect for the next Project and Expenditure Report that all state, local, and Tribal governments must submit by April 30, 2022.
slfrf grant update
Over the past few weeks, TML has reported on the release of the American Rescue Plan Act State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) Final Rule by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and several key differences between the Final Rule and the Interim Final Rule that was released last year. Earlier updates can be found here and here. The National League of Cities (NLC) also released guidance in the wake of the Final Rule’s release including a list of 10 Things for City Leaders to Know about ARPA SLFRF Grants and analysis of the allowable water infrastructure projects permitted under the Final Rule.
Of particular interest to many smaller cities is the addition of the “standard allowance” for lost revenue, which was introduced with the Final Rule. TML detailed this change in a previous Legislative Update article, and NLC discusses it in Question 3 of the NLC grant article above, but it bears repeating. If a city chooses the “standard allowance” for lost revenue, the city may use SLFRF funds up to $10 million to fund “government services,” which the rule says generally includes any service traditionally provided by local governments. Additionally, reporting requirements related to the standard allowance are streamlined when compared to reports required when a city chooses to calculate lost revenue.
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.