April 22, 2022, Number 16
Download the full .pdf version here: TML Legislative Update Number 16
2022 city tax and budget deadline memos now available
Every year, TML posts a memo containing the annual calendar deadlines for the budget adoption and tax rate setting process. Because the tax rate adoption procedure varies depending on the size of the city, two memos are available: one for cities under 30,000 population, and the other for cities with populations of 30,000 or more. Further, within each document, there are two sets of deadlines depending on whether the city’s adopted tax rate will exceed the voter-approval tax rate or not. Whatever the case may be, the deadlines in the document represent the last possible dates for a city to take certain actions related to the budget or tax rate in 2022. Cities should act well in advance of the deadlines in the calendar, if possible.
house and senate committee interim hearings
The Texas House and Senate Committees have begun their committee work to study interim charges outlined by Speaker Phelan and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.
This past week, two committees met on city-related charges. The Senate Local Government Committee met to discuss charges on ballot language and bond elections. TML submitted written testimony on both charges. An archive video of the committee hearing can be found here. The House Committee on Ways and Means met on property tax relief and sales tax sourcing. An archive video can be found here.
Below is a full list of committee hearings set to hear certain city-related charges. All hearings will be held at the Texas Capitol unless otherwise indicated. If a committee has a newly posted notice that was not included in last week’s edition of the Legislative Update, it is indicated as such.
House Committee on State Affairs
The committee will meet 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.
House 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.
Senate Transportation Committee
The committee will meet on May 3 at 9:00 a.m. to hear invited testimony only on the following interim charges:
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.
Information on the hearing can be found here.
House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety
The committee will meet on May 3 at 10:00 a.m. to hear invited testimony only on the following charges:
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 legislation outcome of all legislation, including the following:
- House Bill 3712, relating to the training of and policies for peace officers; and
- Senate Bill 24, relating to the procedures required before a law enforcement agency hires a peace officer.
Study incidents of law enforcement injuries and fatalities to determine those situations that pose the greatest risk to law enforcement. Make recommendations on best practices for increasing and preserving the safety and security of law enforcement officers, including those undercover.
Compare incident crime reporting requirements with those of other states and determine whether a standardized reporting requirement should be implemented for Texas law enforcement. Study opportunities to modernize and improve local and statewide data collection and dissemination throughout the criminal justice system to promote transparency and ensure uniform data collection processes.
Information on the hearing, including how to submit electronic comments and watch the hearing, can be found here.
Senate Finance Committee
The committee will meet on May 4 at 10:00 a.m. to hear invited and public testimony on the following interim charges:
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.
Information on the hearing, including how to register and testify at the hearing, can be found here.
*NEW* Senate Water, Agriculture and Rural Affairs
The committee will meet on May 10 at 9:00 a.m. to hear invited and public testimony on the following charges:
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 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 desalinations, 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 State’s groundwater protection efforts and whether statutory changes are needed to protect groundwater quality.
Information on the hearing, including how to testify at the hearing, can be found here.
Senate Finance Committee
The committee will meet on May 17 at 10:00 a.m. to hear invited and public testimony on the following interim charges:
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.
Tax Exemptions: Examine Texans’ current tax exemptions and report on whether adjustments are merited because of inflation or any other factors.
Information on the hearing, including how to register and testify at the hearing, can be found here.
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.
Department of Transportation (USDOT)
The Safe Streets and Roads for All (SS4A) grant program was created by the IIJA and will provide up to $6 billion in grants over the next five years supporting local programs to prevent roadway deaths and injuries. USDOT recently announced that the Notice of Funding Availability for the SS4A program is expected to be released in spring 2022. More information on the SS4A program is available from the National League of Cities here.
USDOT’s Federal Transit Administration recently announced a more than $20 billion investment in American transit in cities of all sizes for fiscal year 2022 due to the IIJA. FTA apportionment tables for 2022 show that over $647 million in formula allocations are allotted for Texas.
On April 11, the White House released a Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Rural Playbook to help local governments in rural areas navigate the programs funded by the IIJA. According to a press release from the White House, the goal of the playbook is to “provide rural communities with information on the ‘what, when, where, and how to apply’ for funding under the law – so no community needs to hire a lobbyist to access their government.” More information on the handbook and the IIJA’s impact on small communities is available from NLC here.
fort worth court of appeals declares eight-liners unconstitutional
The Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth recently held that eight-liner machines are unconstitutional under the Texas Constitution’s provision prohibiting lotteries. The court determined that such machines are lotteries because they award prizes by chance and for consideration.
However, the appellate court did not directly address whether the “fuzzy-animal exception,” which permits the operation of coin-operated machines that dispense only certain small prizes, is unconstitutional or if that exception is valid on its face but not applicable to eight-liners. If this case is appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, the Court may answer that question in addition to definitively answering the question of whether eight-liners are prohibited by the Texas Constitution.
The League will report on the case if the Texas Supreme Court decides the issue. More information on eight liners is available in this legal Q&A.
puc adopts rule for middle mile broadband
The Public Utility Commission (PUC) adopted a rule, effective April 21, 2022, governing Middle Mile Broadband as required by H.B. 3853. The League previously reported on H.B. 3853 here. The adopted rule allows amenable electric utilities with excess fiber capacity to establish Middle Mile Broadband Service with internet service providers in unserved and underserved areas of Texas.
task force on concert safety releases report
Last November, Governor Abbott created the Task Force on Concert Safety that brought together music industry representatives and law enforcement groups for several roundtable discussions to analyze concert safety and develop ways to enhance security at live music events in Texas.
On Tuesday, the task force released its report. The report centered on five findings: Unified Command and Control (UCC), permitting, training, planning with risk assessment, and centralized resources. Resource documents that were submitted and used as recommendations are outlined in the Event Production Guide.
ag opinion: coronavirus funds distribution conforms to the law
In July 2021, Senator Brandon Creighton requested an attorney general opinion related to the distribution of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) funds by Montgomery County.
Under the CARES Act, counties over 500,000 population received funds directly from the U.S. Treasury, with guidance that the counties should then distribute funds to smaller governmental entities within their jurisdiction. The State of Texas established a distribution methodology that allocated CARES Act funds to smaller entities at a rate of $55 per capita. According to the Senator’s request, of the 12 counties in Texas that received direct allotments from the U.S. Treasury, 11 distributed CARES Act funds to smaller jurisdictions using the $55 per capita rate. Montgomery County was the only one to use a unique methodology. Senator Creighton specifically asked the attorney general whether a large county which received a direct allotment of funds from the U.S. Treasury under the CARES Act is obligated to disburse any of those funds to other, smaller government entities within the county using a particular methodology.
In response, the attorney general determined that there is no statute that requires a large county to distribute CARES Act funds to other governmental entities within the county’s jurisdiction. Additionally, the attorney general concluded that there is no statute that requires Montgomery County to use the $55 per capita methodology which was used by other counties across the state. Without opining on whether Montgomery County’s distribution was equitable, the attorney general found no reason to conclude that the distribution was contrary to law.
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.