View All Posts

May 19

May 19, 2020 TML Coronavirus Update #47

Posted on May 19, 2020 at 4:59 PM by TML Staff

Urgent Updates


Has the Secretary of State’s Elections Division issued information related to the November election?


Yes. The division released Advisory 2020-17 – November 3, 2020 Election Law Calendar. According to the division:


“This calendar contains the relevant dates and deadlines associated with that election.  The calendar has also been modified to account for deadlines that may have shifted as a result of the postponement of the primary runoff election to July 14, 2020.  There are also entries related to the postponement of May 2, 2020 elections to November 3, 2020.    The ‘Dear Voter’ letter for this election will be posted to our website this week. 


Please note that our office will release an updated July 14, 2020, Election Law Calendar that reflects the extension of the early voting period this week as well.  We have also updated the ‘Dear Voter’ letter to reflect the changed dates. That revised letter has been posted to our website.  Here is the updated link to the English version and the Spanish version.


This advisory and other resources are located on your Conducting Your Elections pages.”


Further Updates


What is the latest news on the disaster exemption in Senate Bill 2 that authorizes a city council to calculate their voter-approval tax rate at 8 percent instead of 3.5 percent under certain circumstances?


As we reported yesterday (May 18), the governor stated verbally that he doesn’t believe a city can rely on his disaster declaration to calculate the voter-approved rate at a number higher than 3.5 percent without an approval election. (TML’s interpretation that the 8 percent voter-approval rate calculation is an option for city councils pursuant to the statewide COVID-19 disaster declaration hasn’t changed.)


A group of 226 so-called “grassroots political opinion leaders” sent a letter to the governor yesterday stating, among many other things, that “tax relief is needed NOW to alleviate the burdens on families, empower entrepreneurs, and enable employers to further engineer the economic recovery Texans need, want, and deserve.”


It’s odd that the group would send that message to the governor; he doesn’t set property tax rates. They would be better off sending it to their own mayor and city council or attending their city’s budget hearings. City councils set their budgets and tax rates, and they are well aware that what they do affects residents and businesses in their city. The governor recognizes that (see next question).


What further statements has the governor made with respect to property taxes in general?


The governor issued the following press release today (May 19):


Governor Abbott Urges Local Governments Against Increasing Property Taxes For Texans:


Governor Greg Abbott today responded to a letter from members of the Texas Democratic Congressional Delegation regarding tax burdens on Texans. In his letter, the Governor voices his support of lessening the tax burden on Texans but clarifies that local governments – not the State of Texas – set the property tax rates. The Governor disagreed with the members' support of raising taxes in times of economic prosperity.


‘Property owners shouldn’t be saddled with rising property taxes while dealing with a pandemic,’ said Governor Abbott. ‘As a result, local governments, who set property tax rates, should find ways to reduce the tax burden on Texans. Whether we're facing times of challenge or times of prosperity—raising taxes on the people of Texas is never the answer.’


In his letter, the Governor also urged the members to help pass legislation that protects business owners, healthcare facilities and employees, and first responders from being held liable for COVID-19 exposure claims when they adhere to relevant public health guidelines and make good faith efforts to limit the risk of exposure and infection.” 


City officials should commend the governor for deferring to their judgment about local budget and tax decisions.


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


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