December 1, 2023, Number 47


Download the full .pdf version here: TML Legislative Update Number 47

Fourth-Called Special Session Update

On November 17, the House approved 4H.B. 2 and 4H.J.R. 1 which provides for funding for school safety. The House approved an amendment that removed school choice from 4H.B. 1 and the bill was recommitted to the House Select Committee on Educational Opportunity and Enrichment. There has not been significant action in either chamber since November 17 and the future of any unresolved legislation remains unclear. The fourth-called special session is set to end on December 6. 

Filing Period for Primary Election Now Open: Several Legislators Not Returning

With the opening of the filing period for the 2024 primary election on November 11, many current legislators have announced their retirement or intent to seek election to a different office. The candidate filing deadline is December 11. 

The members listed below have announced they will not run for their current seat, whether due to retirement or to run for other office:

  • Rep. Charles “Doc” Anderson (R – Waco)
  • Rep. Craig Goldman (R – Fort Worth)
  • Rep. Abel Herrero (D – Robstown)
  • Rep. Julie Johnson (D – Carrollton)
  • Rep. Jarvis Johnson (D – Houston)
  • Rep. Kyle Kacal (R – Bryan)
  • Rep. Tracy King (D – Uvalde)
  • Rep. Geanie Morrison (R – Victoria)
  • Rep. Andrew Murr (R – Junction)
  • Rep. Lina Ortega (D – El Paso)
  • Rep. Four Price (R – Amarillo)
  • Rep. John Raney (R – College Station)
  • Rep. Ed Thompson (R – Pearland)
  • Rep. Matt Schaefer (R – Tyler)
  • Rep. Carl Sherman (D – Lancaster)
  • Sen. Drew Springer (R – Muenster)

Upcoming Deadline: Public Comment on BDO’s Broadband Program Proposal Due December 4

Cities must submit comments about the Broadband Development Office’s (BDO’s) Initial BEAD program proposal (Initial Proposal) by 5:00 PM on Monday, December 4

Public comments must be submitted through the BDO’s public comment portal.

Background

Texas was awarded over $3.3 billion in federal Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program funds in June 2023. States must submit a Five-Year Action Plan and Initial Proposal to the NTIA for review and approval to receive the BEAD funds. 

NTIA requires all BEAD-fund states and territories to submit an initial BEAD program proposal (Initial Proposal) outlining the state’s program protocols, challenge process, subgrantee selection process, and subgrantee requirements. The BDO must submit its Initial Proposal to the NTIA by December 27, 2023.

Initial Proposal

Volume I outlines: (1) all BEAD program funding sources; (2) general information about unserved and underserved broadband service locations (BSLs); (3) community broadband anchor institutions (CAIs); and (4) eliminating duplicative funding awards.  

Volume I also describes the proposed BEAD challenge process in detail, including: 

  • What can be challenged (CAI eligibility, BSL eligibility, enforceable commitments, and planned service projects);
  • Who can file a challenge (local governments, interested non-profit organizations, and internet service providers);
  • General process (4 phases, including challenges, rebuttals, and final determination);
  • General timeline (120 calendar days from challenge to decision);
  • Challenge process and timeline (28 calendar days);
  • Rebuttal process and timeline (28 calendar days);
  • BDO Final Determination and NTIA review and approval (78 calendar days); and
  • Examples of acceptable challenge and rebuttal evidence.

Volume II details the BDO’s BEAD program goals and objectives and key activities to achieve them. Volume II also describes the proposed broadband deployment and non-deployment subgrantee qualifications, selection process, and scoring matrixes. 

The BDO proposes a nine (9) step subgrantee award process, which includes:

  • Public engagement (10 calendar days);
  • Release of initial Notice of FundingAvailability (60 calendar days);
  • Round 1 gating criteria review (21 calendar days);
  • Round 1 application review, scoring, and challenges (60 calendar days);
  • Round 2 gating criteria review (14 calendar days);
  • Round 2 application review, scoring, and challenges (102 calendar days);
  • Geospatial deconfliction (minimizing funding overlaps) (35 calendar days);
  • Award analysis (24 calendar days); and
  • Final proposal public comment period (40 calendar days).

City officials may email questions about the Initial Proposal to plan4broadband@cpa.texas.gov

Reminder: Important PFAS Litigation Settlement Deadlines Approaching

Some important deadlines for the 3M and DuPont PFAS litigation settlements are rapidly approaching. Missing these deadlines could result in your city’s inability to pursue certain PFAS-related claims in court. Please consult with your city attorney to determine how best to proceed.

The League has previously reported on the PFAS litigation and more information can be found on the PFAS Settlement Claims Administrator website.

Opt-Out Deadlines

If a city does not want to settle its claims, it may opt out of the settlement agreements. If a city opts out of the settlement, it will not be included. Opted-out claims must be pursued individually. A city must file an opt out form to be released from the settlement. 

  • Cities must submit requests for exclusions from the DuPont settlement by December 4, 2023.
  • Cities must submit requests for exclusion from the 3M settlement* by December 11, 2023.

You can find more information about the opt out processes under FAQ question #8 on the PFAS Claims Administrator website.

Settlement Fairness Hearings

The court preliminarily approved the proposed settlements in August. Some states and other governmental entities lodged objections to the proposed settlements. The court will hold a fairness hearing to determine whether to grant final approval for each proposed settlement.

  • December 14, 2023 – DuPont settlement fairness hearing (10:00 AM EST)
  • February 2, 2024 – 3M settlement fairness hearing (10:00 AM EST)

Claim Deadlines

Cities must file a 3M and/or DuPont claim form to participate in the settlements. Claim forms must include information about the city’s water flow rates and PFAS contamination levels. Cities must also provide some documentation to support these findings. This information can be provided by an outside consultant or the city’s water department. If a city does not file a claim or opt out of the settlements, its PFAS claims will be resolved without compensation.

Settlement claims are divided into two groups: Phase 1 and Phase 2. Phase 1 claimants are public water systems that tested for and detected PFAS in its water before a certain date. Phase 2 claimants are public water systems that have not had a detection of PFAS by a certain date and are subject to test under UCMR5.

Phase 1 Claimants

Phase 1 claimants must file their claims within 60 days of the settlement effective dates. The settlement effective dates will likely be within 14 to 30 days of the court’s approval of the agreements. 

  • Phase 1 DuPont claimants may need to file their claim as early as late December 2023.
  • Phase 1 3M claimants may need to file their claim as early as mid-February 2023.
  • Phase 1 Special Needs claims must be filed within 45 days of the Action Fund deadlines.

Phase 2 Claimants

  • Phase 2 claimants must file their testing claims by January 1, 2026.
  • Phase 2 claimants must file their baseline testing results within 45 days of receiving them but no later than July 31, 2026.
  • Phase 2 Action Fund claims must be filed by July 31, 2026.
  • Phase 2 Special Needs claims must be filed by August 1, 2026.

Cities can file a claim on the PFAS Claims Administrator website under the Start a Claim tab.

Frequently Asked Questions

If a city misses the opt out deadline, can it request to opt out later?

No. A city must request exclusion from the settlements by the deadlines. If a city misses the opt out deadline, its claims will be resolved as part of the settlement if it files the proper claims form.

Can a city opt out of the settlements, then later choose to get back in?

  • *3M Settlement: A city may withdraw its request for exclusion from the 3M settlement up through final approval of the settlement.
  • DuPont Settlement: A city cannot withdraw its request for exclusion from once it is submitted.

Is there a chance that the court may extend the opt out deadlines?

It is unlikely that the court will extend the opt out deadlines. 

Do the 3M and DuPont settlements include a city’s soil contamination claims?

No. The 3M and DuPont settlements only involve drinking water contamination claims.

Must a city submit its PFAS testing in parts per trillion? Will the Claims Administrator accept testing in parts per billion or other measurements?

Cities must submit PFAS testing results to the Claims Administrator. The Claims Administrator can accept testing results in measurements other than parts per trillion (e.g., parts per billion). 

Testing methods, reporting limits and detection limits calibrations may be revised to better capture contamination levels. Expedited and reduced cost testing is available for class members, and information about this can be found: https://www.eurofinsus.com/environment-testing/pfas-testing/pfas-water-provider-settlement.

If you have questions about the claims forms, necessary documentation, testing costs, baseline testing requirements or testing results, please review the PFAS Claims Administrator FAQs or contact the Claims Administrator

Will a city be able to recover costs for PFAS Baseline Testing?

The 3M and DuPont settlements contain provisions to reimburse Phase 2 class members for costs associated with Baseline Testing requirements. The Claims Administrator can provide specific information about the reimbursement procedures, requirements, and amounts.

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 provide periodic updates in the Legislative Update on resources for Texas cities on how to access IIJA funding for local infrastructure projects. 

United States Department of Energy (USDOE)

Battery Materials Processing and Battery Manufacturing Program

The USDOE is accepting applications for its $2.8 billion Battery Materials Processing and Battery Manufacturing (BMPBM) funding program. The BMPBM seeks to improve the electric vehicle battery supply chain, increase domestic battery manufacturing, and create new jobs by funding investments to help support the construction, expansion, or retrofitting of commercial-scale battery materials, processing, recycling, and manufacturing facilities.

Eligible applicants include local and state governments, academic institutions, and domestic non-profits and private-sector businesses. USDOE is also compiling a teaming partner list to help facilitate potential project partnerships by allowing organizations that wish to participate in the BMPBM program to express their interest. The USDOE’s BMPBM teaming partner list can be found here.

Examples of eligible projects include: 

  • Commercial-scale lithium separation from domestic sources;
  • Commercial-scale domestic recovery of battery critical minerals (non-lithium);
  • Commercial-scale domestic processing of battery material precursors;
  • Commercial-scale domestic manufacturing of battery cathodes and anodes;
  • Commercial-scale domestic production of electrolyte salts and electrolyte solvents;
  • Commercial-scale domestic production of cell manufacturing for small and specialized markets;
  • Commercial-scale domestic production of non-lithium-based battery cell and systems; and
  • Commercial-scale domestic manufacturing of other battery cell and system components.

Eligible project costs include personnel, fringe benefits, travel, equipment, supplies, contract costs, and other costs.

USDOE will prioritize projects that:

  • Provide workforce opportunities for low- and moderate-income communities, rural communities, and communities that have lost jobs due to the displacements of fossil energy jobs;
  • Partner or engage with tribal nations, universities, and laboratories; or
  • Create quality jobs to increase capacity, enhance national security, and shore up the viability of the national battery supply chain.

City officials can find more information about the BMPBM program, eligibility, and application requirements here

Interested applicants must submit concept papers by 3:59 (CST) on January 9, 2024. Full applications must be submitted by 3:59 PM (CST) on March 19, 2024.

Grid Resilience and Innovative Partnerships (GRIP)

The USDOE is accepting applications for its $10.5 billion Grid Resilience and Innovative Partnerships (GRIP) program. 

The GRIP program seeks to modernize the U.S. electric grid and protect it against the growing threats of extreme weather and climate change by supporting investments in power system infrastructure and fostering partnerships between governmental entities, power system operators, and the power industry to enhance grid reliability, efficiency, and resiliency.

The overall GRIP program is broken into three subprograms:

  • Part A, Topic 1Grid Resilience Grant program will provide funding for grid resilience-related projects
  • Part B, Topic 2Smart Grid Grant program will provide funding for developing new innovative grid-related devices, materials, designs, or software 
  • Part C, Topic 3 Grid Innovation Program will provide funding for developing high-impact projects to improve grid reliability 

Cities may use the USDOE’s Grid and Transmission Program Conductor to help identify which GRIP program is the most appropriate for specific projects.

USDOE is also compiling a teaming partner list to help facilitate potential project partnerships by allowing organizations that wish to participate in the different GRIP programs to express their interest. The USDOE’s GRIP program teaming partner list can be found here.

Part A, Topic 1 Grid Resilience Grant Program

Grid Resilience grants are designed to fund efforts to reduce the likelihood of and mitigate the impacts of extreme weather, wildfires, and natural disasters on the nation’s electric grid.

Eligible Part A, Topic 1 applicants include local and state governments, academic institutions, non-profits, and private-sector businesses that are:

  • Electric grid operators;
  • Electricity storage operators;
  • Electricity generators;
  • Transmission owners or operators;
  • Distribution providers;
  • Fuel suppliers; or
  • Other relevant entities, as determined by the USDOE.

Examples of Part A, Topic 1 funding-eligible projects include: 

  • Projects addressing comprehensive transformational transmission and distribution technology solutions that will mitigate one or multiple specific hazards across a region or within a community;
  • Projects enabling a system operator to develop expertise in and demonstrate the benefits of modern approaches that go beyond a grid operator’s business-as-usual framework to provide improved system resilience; and
  • Projects encouraging consistency of approach and dissemination of knowledge by including participation of multiple eligible entities.

City officials can find more information about the Grid Resilience Grant program here.

Interested applicants must submit concept papers by 3:59 (CST) on January 12, 2024. Full applications must be submitted by 3:59 PM (CST) on April 17, 2024.

Part B, Topic 2 Smart Grid Grant Program

Smart Grid grants are designed to fund efforts to develop innovative, market-ready grid technologies that will increase transmission system capacity, protect against system disturbances, and integrate renewable energy resources, electrified vehicles, buildings, and devices.

Eligible Part B, Topic 2 applicants include state, local, and Tribal governments and public utility commissions.

Examples of Part B, Topic 2 funding-eligible projects include:

  • Projects using innovative materials, tools, and engineering approaches to improve system capacity and flexibility; 
  • Projects that meaningfully improve grid operators’ ability to use data to deliver benefits to ratepayers and support policy goals; and
  • Projects structured to de-risk broad adoption of innovative technologies and approaches through the participation of multiple eligible entities and a clear strategy for assessing the benefits of the proposed innovations.

City officials can find more information about the Smart Grid Grant program here.

Interested applicants must submit concept papers by 3:59 (CST) on January 12, 2024. The Smart Grid Grant full application deadline has not yet been announced.

Part C, Topic 3 Grid Innovation Program

The Grid Innovation Program will fund efforts to develop and implement technical and non-technical approaches to improve grid reliability and resilience through transmission, storage, and distribution infrastructure-related projects and improvements.

Eligible Part C, Topic 3 applicants include state, local, and Tribal governments and public utility commissions.

Examples of Part C, Topic 3 funding-eligible projects include:

  • Projects that improve grid reliability and resilience;
  • Projects that leverage grid distribution assets to provide backup power and reduce transmission requirements; and 
  • Projects deploying new approaches or technologies to achieve GRIP program goals.

City officials can find more information about the Grid Innovation Program here.

Interested applicants must submit concept papers by 3:59 (CST) on January 12, 2024. The Grid Innovation Program full application deadline has not yet been announced


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.