January 26, 2024, Number 3



Download the full .pdf version here: TML Legislative Update Number 3

Call for Volunteers: Get Involved in TML’s Legislative Process

Texas Municipal League (TML) advocacy efforts are based on a legislative program that is developed by member city officials. The program is essential to the legitimacy of the League’s advocacy efforts. To develop the program, city officials provide input in primarily two ways.

First, member city officials can participate in the League’s Municipal Policy Summit during each interim. The report of the Summit takes the form of a resolution that is submitted to the annual conference. The goal of the Summit is two-fold: (1) it allows input on the legislative program from a broad cross section of cities and city officials; and (2) it educates new city officials to the legislative issues faced by cities. The Summit participants will be appointed by the TML president in early 2024 based on volunteers and others chosen to balance the demographics of the TML membership at large. The report of the Summit will take the form of a resolution that is submitted to the annual conference in interim years.

The Summit is an intensive, two-day workshop during which League staff briefs the participants on the myriad legislative issues faced by cities. Most are issues that arise each session, but several consist of solicited or unsolicited issues brought by city officials. Even if no changes are recommended to the fixed program, which is an unlikely prospect, staff will fulfill its educational goal through continued briefing on the issues. After each subject-matter briefing, the participants make concise recommendations on the issues. Those recommendations are placed into resolution form and submitted to the League’s annual business meeting, discussed next.

Second, a member city, TML region, or TML affiliate may submit a resolution for consideration at the business meeting of each year’s annual conference. Each city is asked to provide one delegate to serve as its liaison at the meeting. The delegates will be briefed on the content of the resolutions and given a chance to discuss and vote on whether they merit inclusion in the legislative program. The resolutions form the basis of a fixed legislative program, under which – each session – modifications to the program will be made as needed.

The somewhat complex policy development process is necessary to ensure that the League advocates as directed by its members. The League is nothing without the involvement and expertise of its members, and participation in the process is an invaluable part of protecting municipal authority.

The process starts in earnest this spring, and TML President Tito Rodriguez, councilmember of the City of North Richland Hills, is seeking volunteers to provide input. No expertise is needed. Volunteers need only have a willingness to learn and the ability to come to Austin on August 12-13, 2024 for the Municipal Policy Summit.

If you have questions or would like to volunteer for the Municipal Policy Summit, please contact JJ Rocha, TML Grassroots and Legislative Services Manager, at jj@tml.org . Please include your full contact information in your email. Due to space limitations and other considerations, not all those who apply will be appointed but will certainly be considered for future volunteer opportunities. 

New Federal Cybersecurity Guidance for Water and Wastewater Systems

The Cybersecurity Infrastructure & Security Agency (CISA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released an incident response guide for water and wastewater systems. The guide aims to:

  1. Establish clear guidance for reporting cyber incidents;
  2. Connects utilities with available cybersecurity resources, services, and no-cost trainings;
  3. Empower utilities to build a strong cybersecurity baseline to improve cyber resilience and cyber hygiene; and
  4. Encourages utilities to integrate into their local cyber communities.

The guidance can be found here.

Deadline Approaching: Eminent Domain and Local Hotel Occupancy Reporting Requirements

Eminent Domain Reporting 

Legislation passed in 2015 requires cities to annually fill out a web-based form with the comptroller relating to each city’s statutory eminent domain authority. Instructions for reporting can be found here.

The three-month reporting period began on November 1, 2023 and closes on February 1, 2024. However, reports may be updated at any time throughout the year. The failure to fill out the form could result in a maximum $2,000 penalty against a city.

The entry should be, for almost every city, an update of previously filed information, including whether the city exercised its eminent domain authority in the preceding calendar year by filing a condemnation petition under Section 21.012, Property Code. This was clarified to some degree for certain cities by legislation that passed in 2021. S.B. 157 provides that—for cities under 25,000 population—an annual report must be filed only if the city’s eminent domain authority information has changed from the previous year. If the city’s information has not changed from the previous report, the city must use the comptroller’s reporting tool to confirm the accuracy of the previous information by electronically updating the filed report with the comptroller. Of course, any city that never filled out the form as required should do so now.

Local Hotel Occupancy Tax Reporting

The three-month window for reporting local hotel occupancy tax information opened January 1, 2024. The reporting deadline is March 1, 2024.

The 88th Legislature passed H.B. 3727 and S.B. 1420 which, among other things, update the previous reporting statute to require cities to report all uses of hotel occupancy tax revenue, the amount and percentage of the revenue, and the total unspent revenue.

Cities are required to use the comptroller’s online reporting form to submit all required information. Under the new legislation, a city may use a portion of its local hotel occupancy tax revenue for the costs incurred by the city in making and submitting the report to the comptroller. The total amount a city may use for reporting purposes may not exceed: (1) $1,000 if the city has a population of less than 10,000; or (2) $2,500 if the city has a population of 10,000 or more. For more information see the comptroller’s hotel occupancy tax reporting webpage.

The comptroller’s website now consolidates all local government reporting information on one webpage, making it easier to comply with reporting requirements passed in recent sessions. City officials can also access information about special district reporting requirements that generally apply to city-related entities like crime control and prevention districts, municipal development districts, municipal management districts, public improvement districts, and sports and community venue districts.

City officials with questions about the requirements can contact the comptroller’s transparency team by email at transparency@cpa.texas.gov or (844) 519-5676.

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. 

U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE)

The USDOE is accepting applications for its $37 million Electric Drive Vehicle Battery Recycling and Second Life Applications (EVBRSLA) grant program. The EVBRSLA program seeks to help state and local governments reduce electric vehicle (EV) battery and accessory component recycling costs by funding innovative recycling and processing-related projects and technologies.

Eligible applicants include state and local governments, institutions of higher education, and non-profit and for-profit entities.

The EVBRSLA program is broken into two topic areas: 

  • Topic Area 1 – Reducing EV battery recycling costs, including transportation, dismantling, and preprocessing-related costs; and
  • Topic Area 2 – Reducing EV battery accessory component recycling costs, including separating and removing active battery materials from plastic and polymer components, and reusing accessory component material in new EV battery packs.

The USDOE encourages applicants to engage workforce development groups, underserved communities, and underrepresented populations as part of its project.

Applicants should also demonstrate partnership commitments from key EV stakeholders, including: (1) EV collection point entities; (2) EV battery manufacturers and recyclers; (3) relevant government agencies; (4) EV-related or interested trade associations; (5) academic institutions; (6) non-governmental organizations and non-profit organizations; and (7) EV retailers.

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

Interested applicants must submit mandatory concept papers online by 3:59 PM CST on February 7, 2024

USDOE must receive complete applications by 3:59 PM CST on Tuesday, April 19, 2024.

U.S. Department of the Interior (USDOI)

The USDOI is accepting applications for its $12.5 million Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization (PBHR) grant program. The PBHR program seeks to support rural historic preservation efforts by state historic preservation offices and certified local governments by funding subgrant programs designed to rehabilitate or preserve sites listed on, or eligible for, the National Register of Historic Places.

Eligible applicants include state and Tribal historic preservation offices, National Park Service-certified local governments, non-school-related special governmental districts, and non-profit organizations. 

PBHR-eligible projects must be located in rural areas not adjacent to urbanized areas and have a population of 50,000 or less. PHBR funding is also limited to new projects. Renewed or supplemental existing projects are not eligible.

Examples of eligible projects include:

  • Historic theater rehabilitation programs Subgrant programs designed to rehabilitate historic theaters;
  • Historic building façade improvement projects; and
  • Historic anchor commercial building preservation projects

Eligible PBHR project costs include:  

  • Property rehabilitation costs;
  • Certain program administration costs;
  • Real property easement and covenant administration costs;
  • Project sign costs;
  • Public notice requirement costs;
  • Training and reporting requirement costs; and
  • Financial audit and oversight costs.

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

Interested applicants must submit their application online by 10:59 PM CST on March 19, 2024

U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT)

The USDOT is accepting applications for its Surplus Property and Military Base Conversions for Airport Purposes (SPMBCAP) program. The SPMBCAP program seeks to support certain airport sponsors, including state and local governmental entities, by transferring surplus real and property for airport operations, maintenance, and development purposes. Property transferred for airport purposes is generally transferrable at no cost. 

Eligible applicants must be airport sponsors, including state and local governments and tax-sponsored entities. Privately owned public airports are not eligible.

Property eligible for transfer under the SPMBCAP program includes:

  • Runway, taxiway, and apron lighting fixtures and equipment;
  • Aircraft rescue trucks;
  • Portable buildings or structures;
  • Hangars and T-hangars;
  • Radio equipment;
  • Approach and boundary lights;
  • Wind cones and socks;
  • Small utility vehicles;
  • Trucks and tractors; or
  • Navigational aids.

Any transfer-eligible property must also be:

  • Desirable to help develop, improve, operate, or maintain a public airport;
  • Reasonably necessary to fulfill immediate and foreseeable airport development, improvement, operation, or maintenance needs; or
  • Needed to help develop non-aviation business-related revenue.

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

The USDOT is accepting SPMBCAP applications on a rolling basis.

REMINDER – Upcoming Application Deadlines

U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL)

Applications for the USDOL’s YouthBuild apprenticeship and job training grant program must be submitted by 10:59 CST on February 1, 2024

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.

City officials can find more information about the YouthBuild program in the December 7, 2023 Legislative Update and here.

U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE)

Concept papers for the USDOE’s Adoption of the Latest and Zero Building Energy Code (AZBEC) grant program must be submitted online by 3:59 PM CST on February 9, 2024

The AZBEC program seeks to promote innovative approaches to improve energy efficiency and reduce emissions in new and existing buildings by providing grant funding to state and local governments to adopt, implement, and measure building energy codes that meet or exceed IRA energy savings targets.

City officials can find more information about the AZBEC program in the January 12, 2024 Legislative Update and here

U.S Department of Transportation (USDOT)

Applications for the USDOT’s Innovative Coordinated Access and Mobility Pilot Program (ICAM) must be submitted by 10:59 CST on February 13, 2024.

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.

City officials can find more information about the ICAM program in the December 7, 2023 Legislative Update and here.

 

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.