TML Coronavirus Update

Oct 12

[ARCHIVED] October 12, 2020 TML Coronavirus Update #136

The original item was published from October 12, 2020 3:03 PM to October 12, 2020 3:11 PM

Urgent Updates


Will there be an update email the remainder of this week?


Nope! We will all be working on the virtual TML Annual Conference and Exhibition. You won’t see an update, unless something needing urgent reporting happens. See below for several COVID-19-related conference sessions.


On the eve of early voting, can you summarize what’s going on with the election?


Sure! For starters, expanded early voting still starts tomorrow thanks to the Governor’s July 27, 2020 Proclamation and Texas Supreme Court’s ruling last week. Early voting for the November 3rd election takes place October 23 through October 30 this year.


Election officials may not send mail-in ballot applications to all qualified voters according to the Texas Supreme Court. Only qualified voters with disabilities and those over 65 years of age may vote by mail. Those individuals voting by mail-in ballot can (1) mail their ballot in the US mail or (2) drop off their ballots at a single location per county because of the Governor’s October 1, 2020 Proclamation.


These issues remain pending in various courts and the odds of the courts making a final determination affecting this election seem unlikely:


·    Challenge to the Governor’s proclamation that each county may only have one ballot drop-off location

·    Challenge that the Texas law about mail-in ballots violates younger voters’ rights under the Constitution

·    Challenge to the procedures for rejecting a mail-in ballot based on the signature


The Secretary of State has been an excellent resource by providing election advisories to help local officials navigate the challenges of the pandemic.


Finally, if a city got permission from the Comptroller’s office to extend the expiration of its street maintenance sales tax by moving its election to November 3, the city must report the results of the election to the Comptroller’s office by November 20, 2020.


Also remember, we compile all of the relevant election-related COVID updates here and the virus-related lawsuits here.


TML Virtual Annual Conference and Exhibition Updates


Can I learn more about COVID-19 and cities at the TML Conference and Exhibition?


Yes! Several sessions will assist city officials with pandemic recovery:


-COVID-19 and our state’s prosperity and opportunities in the future: Listen to Margaret Spellings, former U.S. Secretary of Education and President and CEO of Texas 2036, a data-driven long-term planning non-profit, discuss what their research shows are the most important issues facing our state today and tomorrow. She’ll discuss issues like health, broadband, workforce, education, and government performance, and recommend ways cities, businesses, and all Texans can work together to make sure our state is the best place to live and work for years to come. 


-Recovery from COVID-19: The way we approach recovery will likely define Texas going forward. Our ultimate challenge is to make our cities and state stronger than we’ve been in the past. In his virtual TML Annual Conference session on October 14, Steven Pedigo, LBJ Urban Lab director, will outline a Playbook for Resiliency, and offer strategies and actions we can adopt now for a more prosperous future. Pedigo wants to challenge Texans to “think about resiliency as a place’s capacity to weather threats to its economy and its residents’ health, and even more broadly, as the capacity of residents, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems to survive, adapt, and grow, no matter what kinds of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience. The more resiliency a community has, the less likely it is to break under pressure – and the faster it is to rebound.”


-Helping local hotels: Hotels are fighting their way out of a halt in travel that has caused large-scale layoffs and temporary closures, and industry leaders don’t expect a turnaround until a proven COVID-19 vaccine is developed. Scott Joslove, President and CEO of the Texas Hotel & Lodging Association, said that in his 20 years in the business, he has never seen such dire impacts. Listen in on Joslove’s session “Hotels Are Your Partners in Economic Recovery” at the virtual TML Annual Conference and Exhibition on October 14 at 3:00 p.m. to hear what your city can do now to make a difference for your hospitality community and local economy.


-Helping local retailers: Retail has been especially hard hit by the pandemic with many beloved stores hanging out “for sale” signs as the virus forces permanent closures. Innovations are helping the retail sector weather the challenges with curbside shopping and delivery, but what does the future hold? Listen in on “Retail Trends Post COVID-19” at the virtual TML Annual Conference and Exhibition on October 14 at 1:30 p.m. where C. Kelly Cofer and Aaron Farmer of The Retail Coach will discuss how you can help foster a strong retail sector in your community.


Register here to hear these sessions at the virtual 2020 TML Annual Conference, and view more than 30 other conference sessions related to disaster recovery and resilience.


Further Updates


Is the deadline for a city in a county of less than 500,000 population to draw down CRF funds approaching?


YES. Every city that is drawing CRF money from the Texas Division of Emergency Management must submit its initial paperwork by FRIDAY, OCTOBER 16. You can find your city’s allocation and the application instructions on the TDEM CRF web page. For more details, visit Carrington Coleman’s website.


Is there news about yet another election-related lawsuit?


Of course there is. The Ping-Pong matches continue! Just between the last Update and this one, a federal district court ruled that Texas counties can provide multiple mail ballot drop off boxes. Immediately following the ruling, the attorney general filed for and received stay from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to stop the use of multiple drop boxes. 


According to an October 10 article in The Texas Tribune,


“Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an emergency stay Saturday, seeking to halt a federal judge's ruling from Friday night that said Texas counties can have multiple absentee ballot drop-off locations. U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman's ruling blocked Gov. Greg Abbott's recent order that sought to limit counties to just one such location.”


The attorney general issued the following press release to accompany his appeal that would seem to make it harder for older, sick, disabled, and other Texans to legitimately vote by mail:


“Attorney General Ken Paxton today filed an emergency motion for stay pending appeal in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to block an unlawful district court order that creates confusion on the eve of an election and threatens the integrity of the election. On October 1, Governor Abbott issued a proclamation allowing voters who are eligible to vote by mail to hand-deliver their marked ballots to a designated county office at any time over the course of several weeks leading up to Election Day. The proclamation enhances ballot security by requiring those eligible voters who choose to hand-deliver their ballots to go to a single early voting clerk’s office as publicly designated by a county’s early voting clerk. However, yesterday, a district court issued an injunction overriding Governor Abbott’s decision and requiring county officials to accept hand-delivery of mail-in ballots at any county annex or satellite office, not just a single designated office, even though these annexes and satellite offices have variable security measures and inconsistent practices to ensure the integrity of each ballot delivered.”


Then, according to a Tribune article on the following day (October 11):


“Texas counties are currently blocked from setting up multiple drop-off locations for absentee ballots heading into the Nov. 3 general election due to a temporary order from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. That order came hours after top Texas officials on Saturday again sought to limit drop-off locations some voters use during the coronavirus pandemic.”


The attorney general issued another press release following the Fifth Circuit stay:


“Attorney General Ken Paxton gave this statement after the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a temporary stay, halting a district court order that purported to override Governor Greg Abbott’s proclamation regarding mail-in ballots and threatens election integrity: ‘I commend the Fifth Circuit for temporarily staying the district court’s unlawful injunction while it considers our request for a full stay pending appeal. This ensures that the Governor’s Proclamation remains in effect.’”


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


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