Does a city’s “stay home/work home” order apply to gun shops?
According to an opinion released today by the Texas attorney
general, it does not. In Opinion No. KP-0296, the
attorney general concluded that legislation passed last session exempts gun
shops from any municipal disaster order if the order violates the
legislation. The legislation, H.B. 3231, amended Local Government Code Section
229.001 to provide in relevant part that:
Notwithstanding any other law, . . . a municipality may not
adopt regulations relating to:
(1) the transfer, possession, wearing, carrying, ownership,
storage, transportation, licensing, or registration of firearms, air guns,
knives, ammunition, or firearm or air gun supplies or accessories;
(2) commerce in firearms, air guns, knives, ammunition, or
firearm or air gun supplies or accessories; or
(3) the discharge of a firearm or air gun at a sport shooting
Attorney general opinions are persuasive, but they are not
binding legal precedent. Because of that, each city should consult with
local legal counsel about the effect of the opinion on its orders.
What is the status of the federal COVID-19 stimulus legislation?
On Friday, March 27th, the U.S. House of Representatives
approved the CARES Act. The bill now goes to the President’s desk to be signed
The House passed the CARES Act in the exact same form as the
bill passed the Senate on Wednesday night. More details on the portions of the
bill that could impact Texas cities can be found in our previous report on the
CARES Act here. For more
information about the CARES Act, the National Conference of State Legislatures
has put together a helpful webpage summarizing the
Has Governor Abbott taken any action imposing quarantine on
individuals traveling by plane into Texas from other states?
Yes. On March 26, 2020, Governor Abbott issued an executive order
requiring individuals traveling by plane with a point of last departure in New
York, New Jersey, Connecticut, or the City of New Orleans to self-quarantine.
The time for self-quarantine is 14 days from the time of entry into Texas or
the duration of the person’s presence in Texas, whichever is shorter. A person
subject to this quarantine is responsible for all associated costs, including
transportation, lodging, food, and medical care. Governor Abbott’s order calls
a person subject to quarantine a “covered person.”
Does the order apply to people driving into the state from a
designated point of origin?
No. It only applies to individuals arriving by plane.
What must a covered person do upon arrival?
Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) troopers, or other
approved peace officers, shall collect a completed form prescribed by DPS from
each covered person immediately upon disembarking and verify it against the
person’s driver license or passport. The DPS form will designate a quarantine
location in Texas, such as a residence or a hotel, and provide a full name,
date of birth, home address, telephone number, and driver license or passport
information. Providing false information on this form is a criminal offense
under Section 37.10 of the Texas Penal Code. Questions about this form should
be directed to DPS at 800-525-5555.
A covered person shall proceed directly from the airport to the
designated quarantine location entered on the DPS form. Any covered person
exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 shall be escorted to the designated quarantine
location by a DPS trooper.
What must a covered person do during the quarantine?
A covered person shall remain in the designated quarantine
location for a period of 14 days or the duration of the person’s presence in
Texas, whichever is shorter, leaving only to seek medical care or to depart
from Texas. During that period, a covered person shall not allow visitors into
or out of the designated quarantine location, other than a health department
employee, physician, or healthcare provider, and shall not visit any public
Are there any exceptions to the requirement to self-quarantine?
Yes. The order exempts people traveling in connection with
military service, emergency response, health response, or
critical-infrastructure functions, as may be determined by the Texas Division
of Emergency Management.
Are there criminal penalties for a covered person who violates
the mandated quarantine under the order?
DPS special agents will conduct unannounced visits to designated
quarantine locations to verify compliance by confirming the physical presence
of covered persons. Any failure to comply with this order to self-quarantine
shall be a criminal offense punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000,
confinement in jail for a term not to exceed 180 days, or both.
Does the order apply to municipal airports?
It appears so. The order makes no distinction between
public or private air travel or type of airport. It is unclear what
happens if a person arrives from one of the listed locations and no peace
officer is there to order a quarantine and take the person’s
information. It does appear that the person must self-quarantine in any
case. The League has reached out to the governor’s office for further
guidance and will report back if any is received.
Has the Department of Labor issued further guidance on the
Families First Coronavirus Response Act?
Last evening (Thursday, March 26), the Department of Labor
issued further guidance on the FFCRA
(see questions 15-37 within the guidance). The DOL’s questions are printed
here verbatim. Go to the guidance document for the answers.
Documentation of Leave:
-What records do I need to keep when my employee takes paid sick
leave or expanded family and medical leave?
-What documents do I need to give my employer to get paid sick
leave or expanded family and medical leave?
-May I take my paid sick leave or expanded family and medical
leave intermittently while teleworking?
-May I take my paid sick leave intermittently while working at
my usual worksite (as opposed to teleworking)?
-May I take my expanded family and medical leave intermittently
while my child’s school or place of care is closed, or child care provider is
unavailable, due to COVID-19 related reasons, if I am not teleworking?
Work Closures, Furloughs, and Reduced Work Hours:
-If my employer closed my worksite before April 1, 2020 (the
effective date of the FFCRA), can I still get paid sick leave or expanded
family and medical leave?
-If my employer closes my worksite on or after April 1, 2020
(the effective date of the FFCRA), but before I go out on leave, can I still
get paid sick leave and/or expanded family and medical leave?
-If my employer closes my worksite while I am on paid sick leave
or expanded family and medical leave, what happens?
-If my employer is open, but furloughs me on or after April 1,
2020 (the effective date of the FFCRA), can I receive paid sick leave or
expanded family and medical leave?
-If my employer closes my worksite on or after April 1, 2020
(the effective date of the FFCRA), but tells me that it will reopen at some
time in the future, can I receive paid sick leave or expanded family and
-If my employer reduces my scheduled work hours, can I use paid
sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for the hours that I am no
longer scheduled to work?
-May I collect unemployment insurance benefits for time in which
I receive pay for paid sick leave and/or expanded family and medical leave?
-If I elect to take paid sick leave or expanded family and
medical leave, must my employer continue my health coverage? If I remain on
leave beyond the maximum period of expanded family and medical leave, do I have
a right to keep my health coverage?
Use of Pre-existing Employer-Provided Paid Leave:
-As an employee, may I use my employer’s preexisting leave
entitlements and my FFCRA paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave
concurrently for the same hours?
-If I am an employer, may I supplement or adjust the pay
mandated under the FFCRA with paid leave that the employee may have under my
paid leave policy?
-If I am an employer, may I require an employee to supplement or
adjust the pay mandated under the FFCRA with paid leave that the employee may
have under my paid leave policy?
-If I want to pay my employees more than they are entitled to
receive for paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave, can I do so
and claim a tax credit for the entire amount paid to them?
Has the Public Utility Commission (PUC) suspended any rules in
response to coronavirus?
Yes. The PUC issued an order on March 16, 2020,
suspending three things: (1) any requirements that filings at the PUC be
in person; (2) provisions in chapters 22, 24, 25, and 26 of title 16 of the
Texas Administrative Code requiring that filings be made in a certain amount of
time or that the presiding office act by a certain date, unless that
requirement is also found in statute; and (3) provisions in chapters 22, 24,
25, and 26 of title 16 of the Texas Administrative Code requiring that the
Commission act by a certain date, unless that requirement is also found in
What deadlines did the PUC order extend for cities?
Most PUC rules do not apply to municipally-owned utilities
(MOUs), but some deadlines will apply to certificates of convenience and
necessity (CCNs). The PUC extended the deadlines in chapters 22, 24, 25, and 26 of title 16 of the
Texas Administrative Code unless there is a deadline in state
statutes. The order suspends most deadlines to respond to proceedings at
However, certain deadlines remain in place because they are in
the statutes, not just the PUC rules. For example, if a city receives service
from a water utility and the utility notifies the city of a rate change, the
city has only a certain period per statute to file a complaint with the utility
to initiate a hearing. See Water Code § 13.1871(i). Additionally, when a city
annexes an area already served by a retail public utility, the city still has a
deadline to reach an agreement with the retail public utility regarding service
to the area. See id. § 13.255. There are other deadlines in Section 13.255
regarding service of an annexed area that are also still in effect.
A city with proceedings before the PUC should consult with its
attorney to make sure there are no statutory deadlines still in effect.
Did the PUC temporarily suspend rules allowing the utility
industry to disconnect service for non-payment?
Yes. On March 26th, the PUC temporarily suspended a series of
rules for Retail Electric Providers (REPs) to disconnect service for
non-payment. The PUC also created the COVID-19 Electricity Relief Program, a
funding mechanism through which REPs may recover a reasonable portion of the
cost of providing those uninterrupted services to customers facing financial
hardship. More information about the PUC’s order is available here.
Note that this suspension does not apply to an
MOU. An MOU can make the decision to suspend disconnections. The League has previously prepared Q&As
on that subject.