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Aug 25

August 25, 2020 TML Coronavirus Update #109

Posted on August 25, 2020 at 3:30 PM by TML Staff

Urgent Updates


What’s the latest on the Gulf storms?


Hurricane Laura, which is expected to hit somewhere along the Texas or Louisiana coast sometime late Wednesday or early Thursday, is forecast to turn into a Category 3 storm or higher by landfall, according to The Weather Channel


A handful of counties and the Cities of Port Arthur and Galveston have issued mandatory evacuation orders. Go to the following website for up-to-date information:


The Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool (IRP) has resources available for cities, including a link to the main TML’s emergency management web page


City officials who need immediate assistance from TML legal can contact Scott Houston, TML general counsel, at or by phone at 512-231-7464. If you need TML IRP assistance, please contact one of the following:


-Mike Rains 512-491-2342

-David Nix 512-491-2426

-David Goldston 512-491-2347


Stay safe everyone.


Has another lawsuit been filed related to voting during the pandemic?


Yes. According to the Austin American-Statesman, a group of citizens and Republican candidates filed a lawsuit in Travis County District Court against the Texas Secretary of State for enforcing the governor’s July 27, 2020 Proclamation expanding early voting. Although the only named defendant is the Texas Secretary of State, the lawsuit repeatedly claims the governor is acting in violation of state law.


The petition claims that Government Code Chapter 418 (The Texas Disaster Act) is unconstitutional because it allows the governor to suspend statutes. According to the lawsuit, only the legislature has the authority to suspend Texas statutes under Article I, § 28 of the Texas Constitution. If this claim is successful, it could further affect cities – beyond expanding the early voting dates for their November elections – because Chapter 418 also gives mayors some disaster-related authority.


The plaintiffs argue that the expansion of early voting violates their liberties, specifically their due process rights. In their own words: “Plaintiffs are deprived of liberty and their liberty interest in having their respective representatives, i.e., the Texas Legislature, debate, vote and be heard on any amendment to the Texas Election Code or suspension of the Texas Election Code by Governor Abbott and the enforcement of Governor Abbott’s July 27, 2020 Order by the [governor].”


The lawsuit claims that Governor Abbott’s various orders will forever weaken the plaintiffs’ liberties. Concerned with the precedent of the governor’s orders, the lawsuit ponders what will happen when the virus mutates or we’re in another pandemic: “Viruses mutate, so there may be a different coronavirus strain, or some other contagion, next year. Like the flu vaccine, this year’s coronavirus vaccine may not protect against next year’s strain. Will we allow a Governor to unilaterally suspend laws, bypass the Texas Legislature and trample on the Texas constitution?”


The lawsuit ultimately asks for a temporary restraining order and permanent injunction against enforcement of the expanded early voting for the upcoming election. The League will continue to report on future developments in the case.


Further Updates


What’s the latest from the National League of Cities regarding possible further stimulus legislation?


The National League of Cities shared the following summaries of pending congressional stimulus legislation:


The Senate Republicans Unveil “Skinny” COVID-19 Relief Bill:

Senate Republicans released the text of a “skinny” coronavirus relief bill, which - like the HEALS Act - includes no additional aid to state or local governments. The pared-down bill, the Delivering Immediate Relief to America's Families, Schools and Small Businesses Act, includes:


-Liability protections substantially similar to those in the HEALS Act.

-An additional $300 in weekly federal unemployment insurance until December 27, 2020.

-Small business relief that would provide an additional round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans for certain businesses.

-$10 billion for the U.S. Postal Service.

-$29 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services.

-$105 billion for the Department of Education.


House Budget Committee Releases Fact Sheet on Dire Need for State and Local Aid:

House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D - Kentucky) released a fact sheet highlighting why state and local governments need more federal aid now.


As the document makes clear, the confluence of plunging tax revenues and increasing demand for services is creating budget gaps for state, local, and tribal governments that may exceed the largest on record.


The fact sheet points out that state and local governments already shed nearly 1.2 million jobs between March and July, and their spending fell at a 5.6 percent annual rate in the second quarter of 2020.


"In the absence of additional federal support," Chairman Yarmuth writes, "Americans can expect more painful job losses and debilitating cuts to services."


Where can I find archived issues of the TML Coronavirus Updates?


TML Coronavirus Updates are archived by date here and by subject here.