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Sep 24

September 24, 2020 TML Coronavirus Update #127

Posted on September 24, 2020 at 1:48 PM by TML Staff

Urgent Updates


Will there be an update tomorrow?


In recent weeks, we’ve tried to avoid sending Coronavirus Update emails on Fridays, if at all possible. Unless something major pops up, we’ll stick with our new custom tomorrow.


What are the details of the most recent election lawsuit filed with the Texas Supreme Court?


If you didn’t already know it was election season, the growing number of election-related lawsuits should be a dead giveaway. Add a global pandemic to highly contentious state house elections (and a somewhat high-profile presidential election), and you’ve got a recipe for lots of litigation.


Yesterday, several Republican state officials—including the chairman of the state party, the sitting agriculture commissioner, and multiple state senators and representatives—filed a lawsuit with the Texas Supreme Court claiming that Governor Abbott lacks the authority to expand the early voting period and the window for a voter to deliver a ballot voted by mail. (Note: At the time this update is being published, it appears as though the Texas Supreme Court rejected the plaintiffs’ petition because it was improperly filed. The petition’s deficiencies will presumably be remedied in the near future.) Remember that back in July, Governor Abbott issued a proclamation pursuant to his disaster authority that both extended the early voting period by a week and expanded the period in which marked mail-in ballots may be delivered in person to the early voting clerk’s office to allow for delivery before Election Day. The stated purpose of those extensions was to give Texas voters “greater flexibility to cast their ballots, while at the same time protecting themselves and others from COVID-19.”


The plaintiffs in the lawsuit argue that Governor Abbott must consult the Texas Legislature in order to make changes to the early voting process: “If ever a special session was justified, now is the time. Abbott’s Executive Orders are unprecedented and have had life and death implications, destroyed small businesses and family’s livelihoods, have had a crippling effect on every single community, and now have the ability to impact local, state and national elections.”


As always, the League will monitor the litigation and provide updates as they become available.


Further Updates


How should cities treat COVID-19 health screening records?


Luckily, the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) is here to help with the answer. Earlier this week, TSLAC posted on their blog, The Texas Record, some helpful guidance on how cities handle COVID-19 screening records.


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 related to disaster recovery and resilience.


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


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