Has the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM)
released any additional guidance on city use of Coronavirus Relief Fund
revenue received from the state?
Yes. Today (May 28), TDEM released an FAQ document related to the Coronavirus Relief Fund.
The document includes 71 questions and answers on the following broad
topics: (1) eligible costs; (2) funding process steps and documentation
requirements; (3) terms and conditions/fund usage restrictions; (4) funding
allocation and associated responsibilities; (5) cities located in multiple
counties; (6) Treasury guidance and Treasury FAQs; and (7) coordination
with other sources of funding.
This guidance clearly applies to cities that are applying to
and receiving funds through TDEM grants, but it’s unclear how or if it
applies to cities in counties over 500,000 population that receive funds
directly from their county. TDEM has established an email address that
city officials can use to submit questions related to the Coronavirus
Relief Fund. That email address is email@example.com.
Our city will receive Coronavirus Relief Fund revenue from
the state, which means we are subject to the 25 percent limitation on the
amount of money that can be spent on grants for small businesses. Are there
other options to receive federal money for local economic development
Yes. The federal CARES Act appropriated $1.5 billion to the
U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to
be used on economic development programs to help communities recover from
the coronavirus pandemic. All cities are eligible for funding under the
program, assuming a city applicant can adequately demonstrate to EDA how
its project prevents, prepares for, and responds to the coronavirus. The
EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance program includes grants for planning and
technical assistance, capitalizing revolving loan funds for businesses,
construction of infrastructure and other economic development projects, and
More information about the EDA CARES Act Recovery Assistance
program can be accessed on EDA’s website, including this FAQ.
What happened yesterday (May 27) with regard to the vote by
mail litigation in state court?
The Texas Supreme Court issued an opinion in the case of In Re State of Texas. The
attorney general filed the lawsuit directly with the Supreme Court,
claiming that the fear of contracting COVID-19 is not a “disability” that
would allow a voter to quality for a mail-in ballot. The court agreed
with the attorney general, but declined to issue the “writ of mandamus” he
“We agree with the State that a voter’s lack of immunity to
COVID-19, without more, is not a “disability” as defined by the Election
Code. But the State acknowledges that election officials have no
responsibility to question or investigate a ballot application that is
valid on its face. The decision to apply to vote by mail based on a
disability is the voter’s, subject to a correct understanding of the
statutory definition of “disability.” Because we are confident that the
Clerks and all election officials will comply with the law in good faith,
we deny the State’s petition for writ of mandamus.”
A writ of mandamus is simply a written order to act in a
certain way. The attorney general asked that the court issue the writ
to five county clerks and election administrators to stop them from
“misinforming the public to the contrary and improperly approving
applications for mail-in ballots.” The court refused to do so,
but it did opine that fear of contracting the virus, by itself, isn’t
enough for a voter to request a mail-in ballot.
Texas voters can ask for mail-in ballots only if they are 65
years or older, have a disability or illness, will be out of the county
during the election period, or are confined in jail. Texas election
law defines disability as a “sickness or physical condition” that prevents
a voter from appearing in person without the risk of “injuring the voter’s
A separate federal court lawsuit on the issue is still
pending. It’s probable that the issue will find itself before the U.S.
Where can I find archived issues of the TML Coronavirus
TML Coronavirus Updates are archived by date here and by subject here.