December 7, 2023, Number 48

 
Download the full .pdf version here: TML Legislative Update Number 48

Fourth-Called Special Session Concludes

On December 5, the Texas Legislature adjourned the fourth-called special session sine die. An immediate fifth-called special session is not anticipated. There remains speculation about whether the governor will call a fifth special session in February. 

This marks the end of almost a year-long legislature and the longest legislators have been in session in Texas history. Lawmakers have been in Austin for 260 days not accounting for the impeachment trial of the attorney general. 

City-related bills that passed during this special session are summarized in this edition of the Legislative Update. 

Comptroller Transfers $8.5 Billion to State Highway Fund and Rainy Day Fund

Last week, Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced the transfer of $3.06 billion into the State Highway Fund and $5.46 billion to the Economic Stabilization Fund (commonly known as the Rainy Day Fund). The Rainy Day Fund received $2.41 billion more than the State Highway Fund because of the general revenue surplus at the end of fiscal year 2023. The total of the Rainy Day Fund is now about $19.63 billion. This does not account for current outstanding spending authority of approximately $400 million. 

Voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2015 that allocated at least half of the oil and natural gas production tax revenues to the Rainy Day Fund with the remainder allocated to the State Highway Fund. Those funds can be used for non-toll highway construction, maintenance, and right-of-way acquisition. 

Public Comment Open for Flood Infrastructure Fund Intended Use Plan

The Texas Water Development Board has opened the public comment period on the proposed Flood Infrastructure Fund State Fiscal Year 2024-2025 Intended Use Plan. This includes information on eligibility, minimum standards, program timeline, financial assistance categories, prioritization criteria, and additional information. During the 88th Legislature, S.B. 30 provided over $624 million from the general revenue fund in additional funding to the program. TWDB anticipates utilizing at least $375 million during the 2024-2025 cycle to assistant communities. 

More information on the Flood Infrastructure Fund can be found here. All comments are due by January 1, 2024, and must be submitted to FIF@twdb.texas.gov and specify in the subject line “FIF IUP Comments”. 

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 Labor (USDOL)

The USDOL is accepting applications for its $98 million YouthBuild apprenticeship and job training grant program. The YouthBuild program seeks to provide people aged 16 to 24 with academic and skills training to help them perform meaningful work and services in their communities.

Eligible applicants include local and state governments, Tribal governments, school districts, academic institutions, and non-profit organizations.

Eligible projects must be structured as follows:

  • At least 50% of program time dedicated to education services;
  • At least 40% of program time dedicated to occupational skills training; or
  • Up to 10% of program time for vocational training, youth leadership development, or community service learning.  

Program participants must be between the ages of 16 and 24, have left high school before graduation, and*:

  • A member of a low-income family;
  • Youth in foster care or aging out of foster care;
  • Youth involved in the justice system;
  • Youth with a disability;
  • Youth with an incarcerated parent; or 
  • Migrant youth.

* Up to 25% of program participants may be youth who do not meet the non-age qualifications but are deficient in basic skills or have been referred by a local secondary school for participation. 

The USDOL will prioritize funding for previously awarded applicants who have demonstrated past program success.

City officials can find more information about the YouthBuild program here.

Interested applicants must submit their applications by 10:59 CST on February 1, 2024

United States Department of Transportation (USDOT)

Access and Mobility Partnership Grants: Innovative Coordinated Access and Mobility Pilot Program 

The USDOT is accepting applications for its Innovative Coordinated Access and Mobility (ICAM) pilot grant program. The ICAM program seeks to increase and improve access to vital community services for older adults, people with disabilities, and low-income persons. ICAM funding will help support innovative mobility management transportation and non-emergency medical transportation coordination-related projects to improve access to coordinated transportation services, reduce duplication of services, and enhance the effectiveness of federally-funded transportation projects.

Eligible applicants include local and state governments, Tribal governments, non-profit organizations, and for-profit entities.

Eligible projects include:

  • Regional or statewide mobility management projects;
  • Regional or statewide projects to create or increase access to one-call/one-click centers; or
  • Deploying coordination technology.

Eligible costs include capital expenditures, mobility/mobility management costs, and indirect project costs.

Successful applicants will prioritize coordinating services to enhance access and mobility to vital community services. Applicants must also demonstrate that they used an inclusive planning process involving input from the transportation, health care, and human service sectors.

Award recipients must also develop a regional or statewide interagency coordinating working group and adopt:

  • Consistent driver and vehicle standards;
  • Cost allocation rates when other program users use a single transportation service;
  • Rate-setting methodologies based on providing transportation cost allocations;
  • Cost allocation technologies.

The USDOT will prioritize funding for projects that support the federal Justice40 Initiative by benefitting historically disadvantaged communities.

City officials can find more information about the ICAM program here.

Interested applicants must submit their applications by 10:59 CST on February 13, 2024.

Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Discretionary Grant Program 

The USDOT is accepting applications for its $1.5 billion RAISE grant program to improve local and regional surface transportation infrastructure across the country. The RAISE program will support projects designed to improve transportation safety, environmental sustainability, quality of life, mobility, community connectivity, economic opportunity, and innovation through capital awards, planning, design, and other non-construction-related projects.

Eligible applicants include local, state governments, and Tribal governments.

Eligible capital projects include:

  • Highway, bridge, or other road projects eligible under Title 23 of the U.S. Code (U.S.C.);
  • Public road and non-motorized projects not otherwise eligible under Title 23 of the U.S.C.;
  • Public transportation projects eligible under Title 49, Chapter 53 of the U.S.C;
  • Passenger and freight rail transportation projects;
  • Port infrastructure investments, including inland port infrastructure and land ports of entry;
  • Surface transportation components of an airport project eligible for assistance under Title 49, Part B, Subtitle VII of the U.S.C.;
  • Intermodal projects;
  • Transit-oriented development projects;
  • Long-term permanent surface transportation infrastructure projects, including project research, demonstration, or pilot projects with independent utility;
  • Mobility on-demand projects that expand transportation access and reduce transportation costs;
  • Projects to replace or rehabilitate a culvert or prevent stormwater runoff to improve habitat for aquatic species while advancing the goals of the RAISE program;
  • Any other surface transportation infrastructure projects that the USDOT considers to be necessary to advance the goals of the RAISE program.

For the RAISE program, projects that include right-of-way acquisition will be considered capital projects. Projects that include right-of-way acquisition should include a timeline for construction.

Eligible non-construction projects include:

  • Planning, preparation, or design of eligible projects, including environmental analyses, community engagement, feasibility studies, benefit/cost analysis, and other pre-construction activities;
  • Development of master plans, comprehensive plans, transportation corridor plans, and integrated economic development, land use, housing, and transportation plans;
  • Zero emissions plan for transit fleet;
  • Planning activities related to the development of a multimodal freight corridor, including those that seek to reduce conflicts with residential areas and with passenger and non-motorized traffic;
  • Planning activities related to zero-emissions goods movement;
  • Development of port and regional port planning, including statewide or multiport planning with a single jurisdiction or region; and
  • Risk assessments and planning to identify vulnerabilities and address the transportation system’s ability to withstand probable occurrence or recurrence of emergencies or major disasters.

City officials can find more information about the RAISE program here.

Interested applicants must submit their applications by 10:59 CST on February 28, 2024.

Applicants may submit up to three applications. Multiple cities or states may submit a joint application.

City-Related Bills Passed

S.B. 3 (Huffman/Jetton) – Border Infrastructure and Security Operations: this bill, among other things, appropriates $1,540,000,000 from the general revenue fund to the Trusteed Programs within the Office of Governor for the purpose of providing funding for border security operations, including to provide grants to local governments and local law enforcement agencies to alleviate costs associated with an increased demand on local prosecutorial, judicial, and correctional resources, and the construction, operation, and maintenance of border barrier infrastructure. (Effective March 6, 2024.)

S.B. 4 (Perry/Spiller) – Immigration: this bill, among other things: 

  1. provides that a person who is an alien commits a criminal offense if the person: (a) enters or attempts to enter this state directly from a foreign nation at any location other than a lawful port of entry; (b) enters, attempts to enter, or is at any time found in the state after the person: (i) has been denied admission to or excluded, deported, or removed from the United States; or (ii) has departed from the United States while an order of exclusion, deportation, or removal is outstanding; or (c) has been charged with or convicted of an offense under (a) or (b), above, and refused to comply with a judicial order for the person to return to the foreign nation from which the person entered or attempted to enter; 
  2. authorizes a judge in a person’s case at any time after the person’s appearance before a magistrate to, in lieu of continuing the prosecution of or entering an adjudication regarding an offense under Number 1, above, dismiss the charge pending against the person and issue a written order discharging the person and requiring the person to return to the foreign nation from which the person entered or attempted to enter if, among other things, the person agrees to the order and the arresting law enforcement agency, before the issuance of the order: (a) collects all available identifying information of the person; and (b) cross-references the collected information with all relevant local, state, and federal criminal databases and federal lists or classifications used to identify a person as a threat or potential threat to national security;
  3. requires an order issued under Number 2, above, to include the manner of transportation of the person to a port of entry and the law enforcement officer or state agency responsible for monitoring compliance with the order; 
  4. provides that a local government official, employee, or contractor is immune from liability for damages arising from a cause of action under state law resulting from an action taken by the individual to enforce an offense in Number 1 or an order issued under Number 2, above, during the course and scope of the individual’s office, employment or contractual performance for or on behalf of the local government; 
  5. requires a local government to indemnify an official, employee, or contractor of the local government for damages arising from a cause of action under federal law resulting from an action taken by the individual to enforce an offense in Number 1 or an order issued under Number 2, above, during the course and scope of the individual’s office, employment or contractual performance for or on behalf of the local government; 
  6. provides that indemnification payments made under Number 5, above, may not exceed: (a) $100,000 to any one person or $300,000 for any single occurrence in the case of personal injury or death; or (b) $10,000 for a single occurrence of property damage; 
  7. provides that Numbers 4 and 5, above, do not apply if the court or jury determines that the local government official, employee, or contractor acted in bad faith, with conscious indifference, or with recklessness; 
  8. requires a local government to indemnify an official, employee, or contractor of the local government for reasonable attorney’s fees incurred in defense of a criminal prosecution against the individual for an action taken by the individual to enforce an offense in Number 1 or an order issued under Number 2, above, during the course and scope of the individual’s office, employment or contractual performance for or on behalf of the local government; 
  9. provides that the civil immunity and indemnification provisions in Numbers 4 through 8, above, may not be construed to waive any statutory limits on damages under state law; and  
  10. prohibits a peace officer from arresting or detaining a person for purposes of an offense in Number 1, above, if the person is on the premises or grounds of: (a) a public or private primary or secondary school for educational purposes; (b) a church, synagogue, or other established place of religious worship; (c) certain health care facilities, provide that the person is on the premises or grounds of the facility for the purpose of receiving medical treatment; or (d) certain facilities that provide forensic medical examinations to sexual assault survivors, provided that the person is on the premises or grounds of the facility for purposes of obtaining a forensic medical examination and treatment.

(Effective March 6, 2024.)


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.