Apr 06

April 6, 2021 TML Coronavirus Update #181

Posted on April 6, 2021 at 12:12 PM by TML Staff

Urgent Updates

 

Did the governor issue a new executive order?

 

Yes, he issued an executive order banning state agencies, political subdivisions, or organizations receiving public funds from creating “vaccine passports” or otherwise requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccine in order to receive services. The governor said in a video accompanying the order’s release that:

 

“Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and reveal health information just to go about their daily lives. That is why I have issued an Executive Order that prohibits government-mandated vaccine passports in Texas. We will continue to vaccinate more Texans and protect public health — and we will do so without treading on Texans’ personal freedoms.”

 

State Rep. James White requested an attorney general opinion on the issue as well.

 

What additional information do you have about cities’ money allocations under the federal stimulus bill (the American Rescue Plan)?

 

We shared numbers as the bill was moving through the process, but the Congressional House Committee on Oversight continues to refine the estimates. The National League of Cities (NLC) has compiled the very latest estimates on a searchable web page.

 

NLC has also prepared a searchable summary of the American Rescue Plan’s city-related provisions.

 

Further Updates

 

Where can I find archived issues of the TML Coronavirus Updates?

TML Coronavirus Updates are archived by date here and by subject here.


Mar 31

March 31, 2021 TML Coronavirus Update #180

Posted on March 31, 2021 at 11:47 AM by TML Staff

Urgent Updates

 

What additional information do you have about the federal stimulus bill (the American Rescue Plan Act)?

 

The National League of Cities (NLC) has begun holding regular calls for city officials and is archiving them on the web with the latest information about the federal stimulus bill. The page also includes an updated, 12-slide presentation with what we know thus far.

 

The bottom line is that everyone still has more questions than answers. NLC sent a detailed letter to treasury with topline questions that would affect all cities, and an appendix with additional, more-specific questions from NLC member cities.

 

NLC’s main priority is asking the United States Treasury Department to make it very clear in their guidance that states can’t put additional limits on the funds. (City officials may recall that the Texas Division of Emergency Management placed additional restrictions on CARES Act funding for certain cities.)

 

NLC addressed the following questions on last week’s call:

 

What do cities need to prepare and send to receive funds? Your city is entitled to these funds, and NLC will have more about how they will be disbursed as information becomes available.

 

When will cities need to report use of funds? What details will they need to include? Treasury doesn’t have the capacity to oversee 19,000 cities, so it will likely rely on inspector generals to select cities for some type of audit to be sure that spending is within eligible categories (we still aren’t sure about what those encompass, either).

 

When can we expect more guidance? NLC expects guidance to come before funding is made available, probably within the next 60 days.

Further Updates

 

Correction: Last week’s Update included the following question, which left out crucial language. The Texas Workforce Commission has indeed seen an increase in fraudulent unemployment claims, but they aren’t being made BY city officials and employees. Rather, they are being made by persons fraudulently ALLEGING TO BE city officials or employees. We apologize for the error.

 

Cities are seeing rising numbers of fraudulent unemployment benefits claims made by persons posing as current employees, recently-retired employees, and even elected officials. Where do we report a suspected fraudulent claim?

 

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has become aware of the fraudulent activity through reports of individuals or businesses receiving correspondence from TWC when no claim has been filed and the individuals are employed.

 

The agency encourages anyone who suspects potential fraudulent activity involving unemployment benefits to report it through the TWC fraud submission portal. You can also email TWC.fraud@twc.state.tx.us or leave a message at the TWC Fraud Hotline at 800-252-3642.

 

Where can I find archived issues of the TML Coronavirus Updates?

TML Coronavirus Updates are archived by date here and by subject here.


Mar 25

March 25, 2021 TML Coronavirus Update #179

Posted on March 25, 2021 at 12:55 PM by TML Staff

Urgent Updates

 

What additional information do you have about the federal stimulus bill?

 

The National League of Cities (NLC) has prepared a comprehensive web page with the latest information. The page includes an excellent, 14-slide presentation with what we know thus far.  These are a few highlights:

 

Cities will receive $65.1 billion nationally in direct funding:

1. All cities are entitled to a federal grant from the new Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Fund.

2. Aid obligated to cities is not mingled with aid obligated to state or county governments.

3. Aid for cities is protected from state or county interference by “ironclad statutes” compelling states to comply, including penalties for states that fail to carry out their responsibilities to small cities.

 

Grant calculations will be based on a modified CDBG formula:

-70 percent of funds, or $45.5 billion, is obligated to cities with 50,000 or more residents based on population size, poverty rates, and measures of housing instability. (Prioritizes need.)

-30 percent of funds, or $19.5 billion, is obligated to cities with less than 50,000 residents based on population size only. (Prioritizes simplification.)

 

Small city funding cap:

-Small city grants cannot be greater than 75 percent of the city’s most recent pre-pandemic budget.

-This is a “blunt instrument” to overcome unavailability of precise data for small localities.

 

Two-year funding certainty: 

-Grants will be released in two tranches.

-Half will be released following enactment and half 12 months following receipt of first payment.

 

Spending Deadline: 

-Money remains available until December 31, 2024, with unexpended funds being returned to Treasury.

 

You can sign up here to receive the NLC Federal Advocacy Newsletter directly.

 

Further Updates

 

Cities are seeing rising numbers of fraudulent unemployment benefits claims from current employees, recently-retired employees, and even elected officials. Where do we report a suspected fraudulent claim?

 

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has become aware of the fraudulent activity through reports of individuals or businesses receiving correspondence from TWC when no claim has been filed and the individuals are employed. 

 

The agency encourages anyone who suspects potential fraudulent activity involving unemployment benefits to report it through the TWC fraud submission portal. You can also email TWC.fraud@twc.state.tx.us or leave a message at the TWC Fraud Hotline at 800-252-3642.

 

Where can I find archived issues of the TML Coronavirus Updates?

 

TML Coronavirus Updates are archived by date here and by subject here.