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Sep 02

September 2, 2020 TML Coronavirus Update #114

Posted on September 2, 2020 at 4:28 PM by TML Staff

Urgent Updates


Where can I access a summary of the key topics you’ve covered in these Updates?


TML staff launched these Coronavirus Updates in mid-March when our cities started feeling the effects of COVID-19. Since then, we’ve produced more than 350 pages of archived information.


We know it’s hard to digest it all, so we’re offering a comprehensive update at the TML Virtual Annual Conference and Exhibition on October 14 at 1:30 p.m. Scott Houston, TML Deputy Executive Director and General Counsel, will lead the discussion, and will be joined by Assistant General Counsels Christy Drake-Adams, Amber McKeon-Mueller, and Evelyn Njuguna. Register here to listen in on this update, and view more than 30 other conference sessions, many of which are related to disaster recovery and resilience.


What’s the latest with regard to evictions?


As described by The Texas Tribune, “the federal government announced a nationwide eviction moratorium Tuesday (September 1) that is designed to protect renters from losing their homes until the end of the year. The order could keep millions of Texans from being evicted.”


The new order, issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and set to be published Friday, says that COVID-19 is a ‘historic threat to public health’ and that eviction moratoriums can facilitate quarantining.


‘I want to make it unmistakably clear that I’m protecting people from evictions,’ President Donald Trump said in a White House press release.”


According to the text of the order:


“There is currently a pandemic of a respiratory disease (“COVID-19”) caused by a novel coronavirus (SARS-COV-2) that has now spread globally, including cases reported in all fifty states within the United States plus the District of Columbia and U.S. territories (excepting American Samoa). As of August 24, 2020, there were over 23,000,000 cases of COVID-19 globally resulting in over 800,000 deaths; over 5,500,000 cases have been identified in the United States, with new cases being reported daily and over 174,000 deaths due to the disease.”


The order provides “rent deferral”, rather than forgiveness, until December 31. Similar to the payroll tax deferral, the eviction order defers payment until the end of the year, at which time all past due amounts come due. An Individual will qualify if he or she:


1. has used best efforts to obtain all available government assistance for rent or housing;

2. either: (i) expects to earn no more than $99,000 in annual income for Calendar Year 2020 (or no more than $198,000 if filing a joint tax return), (ii) was not required to report any income in 2019 to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, or (iii) received an Economic Impact Payment (stimulus check) pursuant to the CARES Act;

3. is unable to pay the full rent or make a full housing payment due to substantial loss of household income, loss of compensable hours of work or wages, a lay-off, or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses;

4. is using best efforts to make timely partial payments that are as close to the full payment as the individual’s circumstances may permit, taking into account other nondiscretionary expenses; and

5. would likely be rendered homeless by eviction – or be forced to move into and live in close quarters in a new congregate or shared living setting – because the individual has no other available housing options.


Further Updates


What’s the latest with students returning to college?


According to online media, members of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force held a call with governors yesterday (September 1). On the call, Dr. Deborah Birx, the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and Vice-President Mike Pence, asked governors to tell their college presidents to keep virus-infected students on campus to avoid major outbreaks.


“We know that what happened across the South [earlier this year] was primarily driven by 18-to-25 year olds, across the South, with asymptomatic spread,” said Dr. Birx. “Sending these individuals back home in their asymptomatic state to spread the virus in their home town or among their vulnerable households could really recreate what we experienced over the June time frame in the South. So I think every university president should have a plan for not only testing but caring for their students that need to isolate.”


Vice President Pence said, “In general, we want to encourage, even when you have test positivity on campuses, we want to encourage universities to have students remain on or near campus and minimize the potential exposure to the larger community. We really believe – and I spoke to a university president just the other day – in suspending classes for a few weeks, have people study in their rooms, and... that kind of isolation… for the overall health and well-being [of everyone].”


Yesterday, according to a local news outlet, Texas Tech confirmed 239 total active cases of COVID-19 in students. Similarly, Texas State reported 24 new cases last Friday (August 28). Most colleges and universities post data on their websites. For example, UT has a COVID-19 dashboard


Texas A&M’s dashboard shows 290 cases for the week ending August 23, with a positivity rate of 11.83 percent for August. (Editor’s note: Seeing those numbers, I’ll stick to being an oft-maligned “two-percenter.”)


What’s the latest from the Texas comptroller on revenue?


Yesterday (September 1), Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar released totals for fiscal 2020 state revenues (the state closes its fiscal year at the end of each August):


-General revenue-related revenue for fiscal 2020 totaled $56.98 billion, down 1.5 percent from fiscal 2019.

-All funds tax collections were $57.38 billion, down 3.4 percent from fiscal 2019.

-Sales tax revenue was $34.10 billion, up 0.2 percent over fiscal 2019.

-Motor vehicle sales and rental tax revenue was $4.8 billion, down 3.9 percent from fiscal 2019.

-Franchise tax revenue was $4.42 billion, up 4.8 percent over fiscal 2019.

-Oil production tax revenue was $3.23 billion, down 16.9 percent from fiscal 2019.

-Natural gas production tax revenue was $925 million, down 45.1 percent from fiscal 2019.

-All Funds revenue was $141.58 billion, up 10.7 percent over fiscal 2019, primarily due to substantial increases in federal funding for pandemic-related assistance.


“Yearly revenues were slightly ahead of our projections in the revised Certification Revenue Estimate (CRE) released in July,” Hegar said. “This was, in part, due to surprisingly strong July sales tax collections as Texans’ spending for home improvement projects increased while they spent more time at home both for teleworking and staycations, in lieu of leisure travel. Those July gains, however, were largely reversed in August, bringing actual collections closer to, but still ahead of, our estimate.”


The Economic Stabilization Fund and State Highway Fund both receive funding from oil and natural gas severance taxes. In November, the comptroller’s office will deposit $1.13 billion in each of those funds, down from the $1.67 billion deposited in each fund in November 2019.


Hegar also said state sales tax revenue totaled $2.82 billion in August, 5.6 percent less than in August 2019.


For details on all monthly collections, visit the Comptroller's Monthly State Revenue Watch. For an extensive history of tax policy developments and fees since 1972, visit the updated Sources of Revenue publication


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


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