What is the status of the federal COVID-19 stimulus
Late in the evening on Wednesday, March 25, the United States
Senate unanimously approved the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic
Security Act (the “CARES Act”). The bill now goes to the U.S. House of
Representatives for approval before heading to the President’s desk to be
signed into law. The House is tentatively expected to vote on the CARES Act
on Friday, March 27.
As approved by the Senate, the CARES Act provides over $2
trillion in emergency relief funds to help mitigate the financial harm caused
by the coronavirus pandemic in the United States. The legislation includes,
among many other things, direct payments to adults below a certain income
threshold, funding for loan programs for businesses, expanded unemployment
insurance, and increased funding for hospitals and medical equipment
Of specific importance to cities, the CARES Act currently
provides for the following:
Roughly $139 billion for states and local governments under
the Coronavirus Relief Fund. This funding is allocated to states based on
population, with estimates showing
Texas receiving $11.24 billion. Local governments in Texas with populations
exceeding 500,000 may apply directly to the federal government for their
share of funding. (Note: total funding to these local governments may not
exceed 45 percent of state allotment.) Other cities will need to apply for
grants from the state for this funding. Revenue received under this fund may
only be used to cover expenditures that: (1) were necessary expenditures
incurred due to COVID-19; (2) were not accounted for in the budget most
recently approved by the governmental entity; and (3) were incurred between
March 1, 2020 and December 30, 2020.
Establishment of a $500 billion dollar lending fund for
eligible businesses, states, and municipalities to mitigate losses incurred
as the result of coronavirus.
$45 billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund.
$4.3 billion for CDC-Wide Activities and Program Support, a
portion of which must be used for grants and cooperative agreements with
state and local governments for certain preparedness and response activities.
$25 billion for Transit Infrastructure Grants distributed
using fiscal year 2020 apportionment formulas.
$400 million for Election Security Grants to prevent, prepare
for, and respond to coronavirus for the 2020 federal election cycle.
$850 million for state and local law enforcement assistance
awarded pursuant to the formula allocation used in fiscal year 2019 for the
Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program.
$10 billion for Grants-In-Aid for Airports
$4 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants available through
HUD Emergency Solutions Grant program.
$5 billion for Community Development Block Grants.
$1 billion for certain programs under the Community Services
Block Grant Act.
TML will continue to work with the National League of Cities
to monitor and improve the CARES Act and will report on new developments as
information becomes available.
Has the White House issued information on the coronavirus?
Yes. The White House sent the following information this
afternoon, which is shown here without edits.
Coronavirus Guidelines for America: The White
House Coronavirus Task Force issued guidelines – 15 Days to Slow the Spread
(Español)– to help
protect all Americans during the global Coronavirus outbreak. Even if you are
young and otherwise healthy, you are at risk—and your activities can increase
the risk of contracting the Coronavirus for others. Everyone can do their
part. The recommendations are simple to follow but will have a resounding
impact on public health. Find the guidelines here:
-Up-To-Date Information: The most up-to-date, verified
information and guidance can be found via the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention Coronavirus Disease 2019 website – www.coronavirus.gov.
-Disaster Response and Recovery Primer: Response and
recovery efforts are locally executed, state managed, and federally
supported. It is important that requests for assistance, including for
critical supplies, get routed through the proper channels as soon as
possible. Learn more about the response and recovery process via this
important resource – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic:
Response and Recovery Through Federal-State-Local-Tribal Partnership.
FEMA’s public assistance guidance for COVID-19 response efforts can be found here.
-Coronavirus Fact vs. Myth: Rumors can easily circulate
within communities during a crisis. FEMA setup a website to help the public distinguish
between rumors and facts regarding the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
-Social Media Resources: Follow the White House on Twitter and Facebook. Also follow HHS (Twitter/Facebook)
and CDC (Twitter/Facebook)
You can also find informational videos from Coronavirus Task Force members on
mitigation, social distancing, etc. on the White House’s YouTube page.
-Fraud & Scam Protection: The Department of Justice
is remaining vigilant in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting wrongdoing
related to the crisis. Find out how you can protect yourself and helpful
resources on DOJ’s Coronavirus Fraud Prevention website. The Federal Trade Commission has
also established a website with helpful
information to help consumers avoid coronavirus-related scams.
-Administration Actions and Federal Agency Resources: USA.gov
is cataloging all U.S. government activities related to coronavirus. From
actions on health and safety to travel, immigration, and transportation to
education, find pertinent actions here. Each federal
agency has also established a dedicated coronavirus website, where you can
find important information and guidance. They include: Health and Human
Services (HHS), Centers of
Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), Food and Drug
Administration (FDA), Department of
Education (DoED), Department of Agriculture (USDA), Small Business Administration (SBA), Department of
Labor (DOL), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Department of
State (DOS), Department of
Veterans Affairs (VA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of the Interior (DOI), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Commerce (DOC),
Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD), Department of
the Treasury (USDT), Office of the
Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), and U.S.
Election Assistance Commission (EAC).
In the event of conflicting orders from the governor’s office
and local jurisdiction, which controls?
Depending on the subject matter, the answer to this question
could get complicated. In any case, the Texas attorney general issued a letter yesterday
providing that: (1) state agencies and their contractors are not subject to
local declarations; and (2) the governor’s orders are superior to cities and
Each city should consult local legal counsel with specific
Has anyone prepared a national clearinghouse of city actions
in relation to the coronavirus?
Yes. The National League of Cities and Bloomberg
Philanthropies have teamed up to collect and share
actions taken by local leaders in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Are businesses still required to remit sales taxes despite the
economic hardship caused by the coronavirus?
Yes. However, the comptroller has acknowledged the difficulty
many businesses have in complying with remitting sales taxes. The comptroller
recently announced that his office will be offering assistance to businesses
struggling to pay the full amount of sales taxes collected in February, which
were due to the comptroller on March 20, 2020. This assistance includes
offering short-term payment agreements to businesses, and potentially waiving
penalties and interest for late remittances.
Businesses struggling to make their February sales tax
payments are encouraged to call the comptroller’s enforcement hotline at
(800) 252-8880 to learn about their payment options.
If a city moves a sales tax reauthorization election to the
November uniform election date, does the dedicated sales tax expire even
though the city initially planned to have the voters reauthorize the tax
prior to its expiration on the May uniform election date?
The answer depends, in large part, on which dedicated sales
tax is being reauthorized, and when the expiration will occur. Sales tax
reauthorization elections are required for two types of dedicated city sales
taxes: the street maintenance sales tax, and the sales tax for crime control
and prevention districts.
For the street maintenance sales tax, state law authorizes the
comptroller to delay the expiration date of tax to not later than the last
day of the first calendar quarter occurring after the city sends notice to
the comptroller of the scheduled expiration. See Tex. Tax Code §
327.007(d). Most cities that have their street maintenance sales tax expiring
in 2020 have a scheduled expiration date of September 30, 2020. In accordance
with the authority in Section 327.007(d) of the Tax Code, the comptroller has
advised that these cities may request that the comptroller delay the
expiration of their street maintenance sales tax to December 31, 2020. Doing
so would allow the city to hold the reauthorization election on the November
uniform election date without having the sales tax expire.
The comptroller’s office has advised TML that a city with a
September 30, 2020 street maintenance sales tax expiration date that wishes
to delay the expiration of the tax must send a copy of the resolution
postponing the city’s election to November to Taxalloc.RevAcct@cpa.texas.gov. Once
received, the comptroller’s office will notify the city in writing that the
new expiration date of the street maintenance tax is December 31, 2020. This
city is also required to submit the November election results to the
comptroller’s Tax Allocation Section no later than November 20, 2020.
A few Texas cities have street maintenance sales taxes that
are set to expire on June 30, 2020, unless reauthorized. The comptroller’s
authority to delay the expiration date under Tax Code Sec. 327.007(d) only
delays the expiration of these cities’ street maintenance sales taxes until
September, still before the November uniform election date. Consequently,
these cities would see their street maintenance sales taxes expire prior to a
reauthorization election in November.
In addition to these cities, a small handful of Texas cities
have crime control and prevention district sales taxes that will expire in
2020 unless reauthorized. The crime control and prevention district statute
does not contain a provision similar to Tax Code Sec. 327.007(d), so the
comptroller lacks the same authority to delay the expiration date of the
crime control and prevention district sales taxes.
Cities that either have an expiring crime control and
prevention district sales tax, or a street maintenance sales tax that expires
in June 2020, are encouraged to continue working with their legislative
delegations to request the governor to either extend the expiration dates or
set a special emergency election for the reauthorization of those sales taxes
prior to their expiration. These cities are also encouraged to reach out to
Russell Gallahan with the comptroller’s office to discuss their options at Russell.Gallahan@cpa.texas.gov.
If a city decides to issue a shelter-in-place order, should
certain businesses and activities be exempt from the order?
This question was originally addressed in the March 24, 2020, update. Certain “critical infrastructure”
is typically exempted. That list from the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security is fairly broad. In addition, others (some of which are already
covered in the list) have reached out to the League asking that we share
their information with city officials.
The Railroad Commission has provided certain employees with a letter designating
them as essential for the continued operation of critical
infrastructure. This letter has gone to oil and gas field inspectors,
pipeline inspectors, and some permitting staff. The letter informs law
enforcement, should they detain an RRC employee who is performing RRC duties,
that they are designated as essential for critical infrastructure
Where can I find archived issues of the TML Coronavirus
TML Coronavirus Updates are archived chronologically here and by subject here.