February 25, 2022, Number 8
Download the full .pdf version here: TML Legislative Update Number 8
governor sets special may election date
Last week, the governor ordered a special election to be held on May 7, 2022, for two constitutional amendments passed by the legislature during the 2021 special sessions.
The two constitutional amendments are:
Proposition Number 1
The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for the reduction of the amount of a limitation on the total amount of ad valorem taxes that may be imposed for general elementary and secondary public school purposes on the residence homestead of a person who is elderly or disabled to reflect any statutory reduction from the preceding tax year in the maximum compressed rate of the maintenance and operations taxes imposed for those purposes on the homestead.
Proposition Number 2
The constitutional amendment increasing the amount of the residence homestead exemption from ad valorem taxation for public school purposes from $25,000 to $40,000.
One point of interest for Texas cities: Under state law, county election administrators may refuse to provide election services by contract to cities and other political subdivisions for the May uniform election date in an even-numbered year due to the proximity of the May election to the primary runoff date and complications with providing sufficient election resources. However, because every county will be conducting May elections on the two above propositions, counties will likely be more amenable to assisting other political subdivisions on this date. In recognition of the unique situation in May 2022, the secretary of state is strongly recommending that counties contract with political subdivisions to ensure uniform polling places for votes in May 2022.
federal infrastructure bill update
In November 2021, the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) was signed into law. The IIJA is altogether a $1.2 trillion bill that will invest in the nation’s core infrastructure priorities including roads, bridges, rail, transit, airports, ports, energy transmission, water systems, and broadband.
The League will monitor state and federal agencies and work with the National League of Cities (NLC) to access the latest information relating to the IIJA. We will be providing periodic updates in the Legislative Update on resources for Texas cities on how to access IIJA funding for local infrastructure projects.
The White House has launched “Infrastructure School,” which is a series of webinars that go into detail on IIJA programs using the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Guidebook as a reference. The March Infrastructure School calendar of webinars is as follows (click links below to register):
- Thursday, March 3, 2022 at 3pm- 4pm CST: Roads, Bridges and Major Projects
- Tuesday, March 8, 2022 at 3pm-4pm CST: Transportation Safety
- Thursday, March 10, 2022 at 3pm- 4pm CST: Clean Energy and Power
- Tuesday, March 15, 2022 at 3pm-4pm CST: Water
- Thursday, March 17, 2022 at 3pm- 4pm CST: Resilience
- Tuesday, March 22, 2022 at 3pm-4pm CST: Environmental Remediation
- Thursday, March 24, 2022 at 3pm- 4pm CST: Broadband
Department of the Interior (DOI)
Last week, DOI released its blueprint for implementing the IIJA. Among other things, DOI outlined plans to spend up to $8.3 billion on water and drought resilience, which specifically will fund “water efficiency and recycling programs, rural water projects, WaterSMART grants, and dam safety to ensure that...communities receive adequate assistance and support.” More can be read about the DOI blueprint here.
U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)
DOT is hosting a March 1 webinar entitled “Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Changes to Public Transportation Agency Safety Plan Requirements.” The webinar will provide an overview of IIJA changes that will apply to transit agencies with an agency safety plan in place. Interested city officials can register here.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Last week, EPA’s Local Government Advisory Committee adopted recommendations to present to EPA regarding the agency’s implementation of the IIJA. The committee made the following recommendations, among others:
- Expanding the technical assistance available to help governments access funding, upgrade their infrastructure and ensure climate and equity are incorporated into their projects;
- Providing training and education at every level of government on environmental justice and encouraging the use of available tools and data to make informed, equitable decisions; and
- Encouraging state partners to engage with communities, solicit project ideas from local governments, and include them in decision-making processes.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
On Tuesday, February 22, the FAA announced the opening of the application process for airports to submit projects for the first $1 billion of funding under the IIJA for the Airport Terminal Program. Eligible airports include those operated by cities within the national air transportation system. Large hub airports will receive up to 55 percent of the total funding; medium hub airports will receive up to 15 percent of the total funding; and small hub airports will receive up to 20 percent of the total funding. At least 10 percent of the total funding will go to non-hub and non-primary airports. The Notice of Funding Opportunity spells out the criteria for airports to apply. Airports are encouraged to submit eligible projects as soon as possible, but must do so by March 28, 2022.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
The FCC adopted its final rule for the Affordable Connectivity Program, which was established under the IIJA and designed to help families struggling to pay for broadband internet service. According to a recent FCC press release, over ten million households have enrolled in the program. The FCC is currently seeking comments on proposals for further increasing awareness and participation in the Affordable Connectivity Program.
National League of Cities (NLC)
NLC is regularly posting explainer videos that address what city officials need to know about the IIJA. These videos can be accessed here.
texas attorney general secured $1.167 billion for texas for global opioid agreement
Last week, Attorney General Ken Paxton announced his office secured $1.167 billion for Texas from the $26 billion opioid agreement with the three largest pharmaceutical distributors, Cardinal, McKesson, and AmerisourceBergen. The Texas Attorney General previously entered into an intrastate agreement with counties and cities regarding the opioid crisis.
15 percent of the funds distributed to Texas are to be allocated to political subdivisions, including cities. Exhibit B of the agreement shows the funding allocations to Texas cities. Funds are generally to be used for costs associated with “opioid remediation” as that term is characterized in the settlement agreement. Cities should review the settlement agreement with their city attorney to determine their interest in any amount the state receives and how the funds may be used.
TML member cities may use the materials 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.