April 8, 2022, Number 14
Download the full .pdf version here: TML Legislative Update Number 14
lieutenant governor release senate interim charges
Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick released interim charges to the committees of the Texas Senate to study prior to the 2023 legislative session. Many of the relevant city-related charges are below.
The League will continue to monitor the charges and report on the progress of the charges throughout the interim.
Business and Commerce Committee
- Broadband and Telecommunications: Study broadband and other telecommunications related issues impacting Texans, including:
- Monitoring the implementation of House Bill 5 and House Bill 1505, 87th Legislature; discuss anticipated federal infrastructure funding dedicated to broadband initiatives;
- Reviewing the Texas Universal Service Fund and reporting what, if any, changes should be made through a review of both the fund's contributions and disbursements, as well as the impact of technology on the long-term stability of the Texas Universal Service Fund; and
- Monitoring the implementation of House Bill 2911, 87th Legislature, relating to next generation 9-1-1 service and the establishment of a next generation 9-1-1 service fund.
- Electricity: Assess the electricity market in Texas. Study issues impacting the Texas electric grid, including weather preparedness, transmission planning, maintenance scheduling, and the natural gas supply chain. Study the consequences of increased electric vehicle usage and charging on the generation, transmission and distribution, and retail sectors of Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and evaluate their potential impact on increased electric demand and reliability of the grid. Evaluate potential benefits of real-time transparency of the intrastate gas market with respect to the functions of ERCOT and the Texas Energy Reliability Council. Examine the growth of renewable energy generation in the state and evaluate its impact on grid reliability. Make recommendations to strengthen the reliability of the grid, and meet the future generation needs of ERCOT through new and existing dispatchable generation. Assess plans to expeditiously add new dispatchable generation. Monitor the implementation of Senate Bill 2 and Senate Bill 3, 87th Legislature.
- Cybersecurity: Review current state and federal laws regarding cybersecurity protections and requirements for local governments, state agencies, and critical industries of our state. Make recommendations for legislation to improve resilience and protection against cybersecurity attacks and ensure the privacy protection of the citizens of Texas.
Criminal Justice Committee
- Criminal Case Backlogs: Evaluate the current backlog of criminal cases. Consider and recommend ways to reduce delays and ensure timely resolution of cases, including an examination of methods developed by district attorneys, judges, and court administrators.
- Automobile Parts Theft (Including Catalytic Converters): Review the effect of House Bill 4110 (87th Legislature), relating to the registration of metal recycling, and related catalytic converter theft legislation passed by the 87th Legislature. Determine what actions are needed to aid law enforcement and stop catalytic converter theft and its related violence.
- Local Government Exclusion: Investigate how some cities and counties are prohibiting the expansion of charter schools through local ordinances. Make recommendations to ensure the fair and equitable treatment of charter schools and independent school districts.
- Federal Funds: Report on the state use of federal COVID-19 relief funds provided under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, the American Rescue Plan Act, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Acts, and similar federal legislation. Examine local use of federal relief funding, including funding provided to school districts through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. Evaluate the overall fiscal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on state agencies, including costs incurred due to federal mandates. Identify barriers to the effective utilization of funds and make recommendations on the expenditure of unappropriated funds. in addition, evaluate and report on the spending by state agencies that have been utilizing “one-time” federal funding (temporary enhancements, e.g. FMAP and ESSER) sources, where federal funding will likely be significantly reduced in future biennia.
- Property Tax Relief: Examine and recommend ways to reduce Texans’ property tax burden. Review and report on proposals to use or dedicate state revenues in excess of the state spending limit to eliminate the school district maintenance and operations property tax.
- Inflation: Review and report on the impact of inflation on units of local governments’ revenue collections and property taxpayers’ tax bills, including the homestead exemption.
- Tax Exemptions: Examine Texans’ current tax exemptions and report on whether adjustments are merited because of inflation or any other factors.
Health and Human Services Committee
- Public Health Data: Review the processes for public health data collection and coordination by local and state entities as well as regional trauma centers. Identify any continuing barriers to the real-time dissemination of data concerning health care facility capacity—including data that can expedite timely care— and mortality rates, as well as other information that can assist in public policy decisions.
Local Government Committee
- Property Tax Reform: Review the effect of Senate Bill 2 (86th Legislature), the Texas Property Tax Reform and Transparency Act of 2019, and related legislation passed by the 87th Legislature. Make recommendations for further property tax reform and relief.
- Appraisal Reform: Review the implementation of Senate Bill 63, House Bill 988, and other related legislation passed by the 87th Legislature. Make recommendations to ensure appraisal guidelines are effective and taxpayers have enforcement mechanisms.
- Special Purpose Districts: Perform a comprehensive study on the powers and purposes of various special purpose districts and their associated legislative templates. Make recommendations to improve public transparency in operations of special purpose districts and associated legislative templates.
- Affordable Housing: Study issues related to affordable housing, homelessness, and methods of providing and financing affordable housing. Make recommendations to improve transparency and accountability, as well as to better utilize existing federal, state, and local programs.
- Bond Elections: Review and report of voter participation and bond election result differences between November and May elections. Make recommendations for improved voter turnout, increased election efficiencies, and better accountability of local debt.
- Community Advocacy: Study how governmental entities use public funds for political lobbying purposes. Examine what types of governmental entities use public funds for lobbying purposes and what level of transparency is available to the public. Make recommendations to protect taxpayers from paying for lobbyists who may not represent the taxpayers’ interest.
- Efficiency Audits: Study the concept of efficiency audits for cities, counties, and special purpose districts and under what circumstances they should be performed. Evaluate whether efficiency audits provide Texans tools to combat wasteful government spending and report whether they are needed before local government tax ratification elections.
- Extraterritorial Jurisdictions: Study issues related to municipal extraterritorial jurisdictions and annexation powers, including examining possible disannexation authority. Determine whether extraterritorial jurisdictions continue to provide value to their residents and make recommendations on equitable methods for disannexation.
- Ballot Language: Study the development of the language used for constitutional amendment and local ballot propositions. Recommend changes to make ballot propositions more easily understood by voters.
Natural Resources and Economic Development Committee
- Economic Development Program: Review the programs in Chapters 380 and 381 of the Local Government Code. Consider the benefits of each program in generating economic development. Make recommendations for improvements to Chapters 380 and 381 to increase transparency and accountability and the effectiveness of the programs.
- Hotel Occupancy Taxes: Study the collection and use of hotel occupancy taxes. Evaluate and make recommendations related to the effectiveness, costs of rebates, incentives, and other taxes applied to qualified hotel and convention center projects. Investigate and determine whether the creation of a standard Hotel Occupancy Tax legislative template is feasible, and whether it would enable the legislature to more efficiently evaluate proposed Hotel Occupancy Tax bills during the legislative session.
- Wildfires and Prescribed Burns: Examine ways to reduce the risk of and destructive impact of wildfires. Monitor the role of Prescribed Burning Board plays in controlled burns. Recommend practices and improvements that public and private landowners may use to reduce fire risks.
State Affairs Committee
- Elections Enforcement: Evaluate the impact that the Court of Criminal Appeals’ ruling in Stephens v. State will have on criminal prosecution in Texas. Additionally, study ways in which the Secretary of State’s office can respond promptly to reports of Election Code violations. Review the process by which the Secretary of State receives and reports election results, including any internal processes to verify the results reported by county elections administrators. Make recommendations to improve the accuracy and timeliness of election results reported by the Secretary of State on the day of an election. Make recommendations that will allow consistent enforcement of election laws across the state.
- Elections Administration: Study how the allocation of polling locations are determined for early voting and election day for counties with and without county-wide voting and report whether current law provides equitable distribution. Study the protocols and scheduling of proper maintenance and calibration of election equipment and recommend what is required for maximum efficiency, accuracy, and security. Study the history of a holiday falling within the early voting period and recommend methods to ensure that early voting always has the required number of days and every qualified voter has the opportunity to vote. Study and recommend whether the state should shorten the primary election runoff period in Texas in order to allow voters to know who their candidate is sooner – while remaining in compliance with the federal MOVE Act. Make recommendations to ensure it is easy to vote and hard to cheat.
- Safety: Study the contributing factors leading to fatal crashes and make recommendations to prevent and reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries.
- Alternatively Fueled Vehicles: Review the Texas Department of Transportation’s plan for federal funding related to alternatively fueled vehicle infrastructure development. Examine the increase of private and public owned alternatively fueled vehicles registered in the state and make recommendations for road user fee fairness between alternatively fueled vehicles and gasoline and diesel vehicles.
Water, Agriculture, and Rural Affairs Committee
- Water Utility Infrastructure: Evaluate the state’s water infrastructure. Study and make recommendations on options to upgrade and update water infrastructure to address deferred maintenance, disasters, and water loss.
- Water Supply: Review and make recommendations to complete specific projects to complete specific projects identified in the 2022 State Water Plan. In light of recent changes to the global economy, consider the current regulatory process regarding innovative technology solutions to water supply needs, such as marine desalination, and make recommendations for their improvement.
- Groundwater Management and Protection: Evaluate the status and effectiveness of the State’s groundwater management process, including data used to support regional water planning and conservation goals. Report on the effectiveness of the State’s groundwater protection efforts and whether statutory changes are needed to protect groundwater quality.
- Rural Employment: study and make recommendations on rural small business development and workforce needs. Consider and recommend innovate methods for business development in rural parts of the state.
texas house committees begin interim hearings
Texas house committees are set to begin their work on interim charges previously set by Speaker Phelan. The following committees have posted notice to hear certain city-related charges. All hearings will be held at the Texas Capitol unless otherwise indicated. The League will continue to monitor and update the membership as more committees meet.
Committee on Urban Affairs
The committee will meet on April 12 at 10:00 a.m. in San Antonio to hear invited and public testimony on the following charges:
Charge #4: Study the effects of local governance, planning, and administration on the current state of municipal water and wastewater infrastructure. Examine the measures municipally owned utilities have taken and the costs required to maintain and improve that infrastructure. Make recommendations for cost-effective solutions to ensure reliable infrastructure and uninterrupted municipal utility services, especially during a severe weather event.
Charge #5: Study municipal fees with respect to the function of the fee and the relationship of the fee to the cost of providing an associated municipal service. Make recommendations to address municipal fees that are disproportionate or unrelated to the cost of providing the associated service. The committee has invited TML to testify on this charge.
More information including how to submit electronic testimony can be found here.
Committee on International Relations & Economic Development
The committee will meet on April 20 at 11:00 a.m. to hear invited testimony only on the following charge:
Economic Development Incentives
Examine current economic development incentive programs and identify opportunities to enhance job creation in Texas. Make recommendations to promote transparency and enhance effectiveness of such programs.
Information on how to view this hearing and how to submit electronic testimony can be found here.
Committee on Ways & Means
The committee will meet on April 21 at 10:00 a.m. to consider and hear invited and public testimony on the following charges:
Study and consider methods of providing additional property tax relief, including the use of $3 billion in available American Rescue Plan Act funds that were held for future tax relief by the 87th Legislature, and other sources of revenue. Explore options to reduce business property tax burdens and options for limiting the growth of property tax bills.
Evaluate the impact of shifting to destination sourcing for local sales and use tax purposes, including the benefits of reduced taxpayer confusion. Monitor the implementation of the Comptroller’s amendments to 34 Tx. Admin. Code §3.334, relating to local sales and use taxes, and the Comptroller’s Sales Tax Rate Locator. Make recommendations for legislation to improve Texas’ local sales and use tax sourcing.
The League previously published an in-depth Legislative Update article that outlines the sales tax sourcing charge. More information including how to submit comments electronically or register to testify can be found here.
Committee on State Affairs
The committee will meet in a public hearing on April 26 at 9:00 a.m. to hear invited and public testimony on the following charge:
Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee's jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 87th Legislature. Conduct active oversight of all associated rulemaking and other governmental actions taken to ensure the intended legislative outcome of all legislation, including the following:
- H.B. 5, relating to the expansion of broadband services to rural areas
- H.B. 1505, relating to attachments for broadband service on utility poles owned by an electric cooperative and establishing and funding a pole replacement program for deployment of certain broadband facilities
Information on the hearing, including information on how to register to testify at the hearing, submit comments electronically, and watch the hearing can be found here.
Additionally, the League previously reported on H.B. 5 here. H.B. 5 established the state’s first broadband office, the State Broadband Development Office (SBDO) within the comptroller’s office and requires the SBDO to develop the first statewide broadband plan. The comptroller is in the midst of holding a broadband listening tour to hear Texans insight on internet access. The comptroller has created an online survey for city officials to give feedback that will be used to develop the plan. The survey closes May 5, 2022.
Committee on Transportation
The committee will meet on April 26 at 12:30 p.m. to hear invited and public testimony on the following charges:
Study current and future transportation needs and consider improvements to ensure that Texas is adequately planning for the state’s population growth forecasts. Evaluate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on transportation projects and investment decisions.
Study the impact of the increasing sale and use of electric and alternatively fueled vehicles on revenue predictions for the state highway fund. Recommend a road use revenue equalization methodology to create fairness and parity between gasoline, electric and alternatively fueled vehicles.
Information on the hearing including how to submit electronic testimony and watch the hearing can be found here.
federal infrastructure bill
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.
Department of Transportation (DOT)
In order to provide more visibility for upcoming funding opportunities, DOT has published a list of 2022 anticipated months for Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs) for its IIJA programs.
The deadline to apply for funding from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) discretionary grant program is 4 p.m. CDT on April 14. The program is designed to assist communities in carrying out transportation projects with a significant local or regional impact, which could include anything from bus lane improvements to highway and bridge repairs. The Notice of Funding Opportunity for the $1.5 billion in RAISE grant funding can be found here.
In last week’s Legislative Update we highlighted DOT’s announcement of $2.9 billion in funding through the Multimodal Project Discretionary Grant (MPDG) opportunity. Interested city officials can read more about this major opportunity on NLC’s website here, and access recent DOT presentations on the grant program here (including links to register for upcoming webinars on April 7 and April 12).
DOT recently released guidance on the Transportation Alternatives (TA) Set-Aside from the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program. The TA Set-Aside was increased to $1.38 billion in FY 2022 by the IIJA. According to the guidance, the TA Set-Aside “provides funding for a variety of transportation projects such as pedestrian and bicycle facilities; construction of turnouts, overlooks, and viewing areas; community improvements such as historic preservation and vegetation management; environmental mitigation related to stormwater and habitat connectivity; recreational trails; safe routes to school projects; and vulnerable road user safety assessments.” Under the IIJA, states must suballocate at least 59% of their share of funding to metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and may allocate 100% to MPOs. Over $133 million is reserved for Texas in the 2022 TA Set-Aside. MPO suballocation amounts for 2022 can be found here.
slfrf project and expenditure report due april 30
The State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) Project and Expenditure Report is due for all SLFRF receipts on April 30, 2022. Treasury encourages all Non-Entitlement Units of local government (NEUs) recipients to access the Treasury Portal as soon as possible in order to confirm their accounts, designate SLFRF reporting roles, and submit the required agreements and supporting documentation to Treasury prior to the submission of the first Project and Expenditure Report. An NEU User Guide has been created to assist recipients with logging into Treasury's Portal. More information on the SLFRF program can be found here including the latest version of the Compliance and Reporting Guidance. For any questions or additional information, please email SLFRP@treasury.gov.
TML member cities may use the material 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.