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Mar 30

March 30, 2020 TML Coronavirus Update #11

Posted on March 30, 2020 at 3:52 PM by TML Staff

Urgent Updates


How much can Texas cities expect to receive under the federal CARES Act?


Last week, the president signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “CARES Act”), a bill providing over $2 trillion in emergency relief funds to help mitigate the financial harm caused by the coronavirus pandemic across the country.


At this stage, it is not clear exactly how much federal funding will be made available to Texas cities across the board. As part of the legislation, Congress directly allocated roughly $11.24 billion through the Coronavirus Relief Fund to Texas for use by the state and local governments. Texas cities with populations over 500,000 are eligible for direct financial assistance under this fund. Other Texas cities will presumably need to apply for pass-through grants from the remaining allocation amounts through a yet-to-be-determined process at the state agency level.


The CARES Act includes other opportunities for funding critical city services as well. The National League of Cities has prepared this document, which details these funding opportunities for cities nationwide.


Has there been litigation relating to how conflicts between city and county emergency orders are resolved?


Yes. For example, the County Judge in the North Texas County of Collin issued a social distancing order that appeared to be lax in its directives. The Mayor of the City of McKinney, located in Collin County, issued a more stringent order. Shortly thereafter, a local realtor sued the city, claiming that the county order – even though less stringent – controls over any city order. 


A district court judge will consider whether to impose a temporary restraining order prohibiting enforcement of the mayor’s order on Tuesday, March 31, pending further proceedings on the merits. The League has previously shared the relevant conflicts provisions from the Texas Disaster Act. Here they are again.


Texas Government Code Section 418.103 resolves many conflicts in relation to emergency management orders:


"(a) The governor shall determine which municipal corporations need emergency management programs of their own and shall recommend that they be established and maintained. The governor shall make the determinations on the basis of the municipality's disaster vulnerability and capability of response related to population size and concentration.

(b) The emergency management program of a county must be coordinated with the emergency management programs of municipalities situated in the county but does not apply in a municipality having its own emergency management program."


In some case, however, the more specific provisions of Section 418.108 may control:


"(f) The county judge or the mayor of a municipality may order the evacuation of all or part of the population from a stricken or threatened area under the jurisdiction and authority of the county judge or mayor if the county judge or mayor considers the action necessary for the preservation of life or other disaster mitigation, response, or recovery.

(g) The county judge or the mayor of a municipality may control ingress to and egress from a disaster area under the jurisdiction and authority of the county judge or mayor and control the movement of persons and the occupancy of premises in that area.

(h) For purposes of Subsections (f) and (g): (1) the jurisdiction and authority of the county judge includes the incorporated and unincorporated areas of the county; and (2) to the extent of a conflict between decisions of the county judge and the mayor, the decision of the county judge prevails."


The interplay between the provisions above and other law should also be an issue in the lawsuit. For example, the Health and Safety Code provides that:



(a) The governing body of a Type A general-law municipality may take any action necessary or expedient to promote health or suppress disease, including actions to:

(1) prevent the introduction of a communicable disease into the municipality, including stopping, detaining, and examining a person coming from a place that is infected or believed to be infected with a communicable disease;

(2) establish, maintain, and regulate hospitals in the municipality or in any area within five miles of the municipal limits; or

(3) abate any nuisance that is or may become injurious to the public health.

(b) The governing body of a Type A general-law municipality may adopt rules:

(1) necessary or expedient to promote health or suppress disease; or

(2) to prevent the introduction of a communicable disease into the municipality, including quarantine rules, and may enforce those rules in the municipality and in any area within 10 miles of the municipality.

(c) The governing body of a Type A general-law municipality may fine a person who fails or refuses to observe the orders and rules of the health authority.


Sec. 122.006. POWERS OF HOME-RULE MUNICIPALITIES. A home-rule municipality may:

(1) adopt rules to protect the health of persons in the municipality, including quarantine rules to protect the residents against communicable disease; and

(2) provide for the establishment of quarantine stations, emergency hospitals, and other hospitals.


The League will report on further developments in the case. In the meantime, each city should consult with its attorney about the interaction between city and county orders.


Has the federal government issued additional guidance with respect to which jobs are classified as “critical infrastructure?”


Yes. The White House issued the following information last Saturday (March 28):


“Functioning critical infrastructure is imperative during the response to the COVID-19 emergency for both public health and safety, as well as community well-being. Certain critical infrastructure industries have a special responsibility in these times to continue operations. On Saturday, March 28, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) – released updated guidance on the essential critical infrastructure workforce (see Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response). The guidance and accompanying list are intended to support state, local, and industry partners in identifying the critical infrastructure sectors and the essential workers needed to maintain the services and functions Americans depend on daily and need to be able to operate resiliently during the COVID-19 pandemic response.


State, local, tribal, and territorial governments are responsible for implementing and executing response activities, including decisions about access and reentry, in their communities, while the Federal Government is in a supporting role. Officials should use their own judgment in issuing implementation directives and guidance.” 


Since his order on March 26, 2020 (GA-11), has Governor Abbott taken any additional action imposing quarantine on individuals traveling by plane into Texas from other states?


Yes. On March 29, 2020, Governor Abbott issued an additional executive order requiring individuals traveling by plane with a point of last departure in the State of California; State of Louisiana; State of Washington; City of Atlanta, Georgia; City of Chicago, Illinois; City of Detroit, Michigan; and City of Miami, Florida to self-quarantine. This order is effective at noon on March 30th.


We reported on the requirements of the quarantine in a previous Q&A, which apply to these locations as well. 


Has Governor Abbott issued an order that applies to people driving into the state from a designated point of origin?


Yes. On March 29, 2020, Governor Abbott issued an executive order requiring individuals traveling from any location in Louisiana to self-quarantine for 14 days. The order is effective at noon on March 30th. The requirements for quarantine, including the criminal penalties, are the same as for individuals traveling by plane, which the League reported in a previous Q&A.


Who will enforce the order requiring people driving in from Louisiana to self-quarantine?


The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) shall enforce this executive order along the Texas-Louisiana border.


Further Updates


Has the Department of Labor issued further guidance on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act?


Yes. Yesterday (Sunday, March 29), the Department of Labor issued its third round of guidance on the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (see questions 38-59 within the guidance). Go to the guidance document for the questions and answers.


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


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