Did the governor take any virus-related action heading into
Yes. He issued the following press release last Friday (July
“Governor Greg Abbott has been working with Vice President
Mike Pence and members of the Trump Administration to ensure the medical
needs of Texans will be met as the State responds to COVID-19.
He announced tonight that additional federal resources have been
activated and are being sent to the Houston region to combat COVID-19.
The additional resources include an Urban Area Medical Task
Force from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) that will arrive in the
region on Monday and a Disaster Medical Assistance Team from U.S. Health and
Human Services that has just been deployed. These resources add to a DOD
Urban Area Medical Task Force that just began operating in Bexar County as
well as seven federal assessment teams operating in Dallas, Houston, Austin,
San Antonio, McAllen, Laredo, and El Paso this past week. The Governor
continues daily collaboration with Texas' federal partners to expand
resources for any regions to respond to COVID-19.
‘Texas is grateful to the federal government as well as the
President and Vice President for working swiftly to provide additional
resources to the state as we work to mitigate COVID-19 and care for our
fellow Texans,’ said Governor Abbott. ‘We will continue to work with our
local and federal partners to ensure all resources and needs are met
throughout the state.’”
What can mayors do right now to support congressional efforts
for a next round of federal stimulus to all Texas cities?
The Senate Finance Committee is currently preparing the next
federal stimulus package for workers, businesses, states, and local
governments, and the U.S. Senate is expected to consider the measure after
Congress returns from break on July 20. Please join mayors from across Texas
in signing this letter urging our congressional delegation to
provide direct and flexible assistance to Texas cities. Mayors interested in
signing onto the letter, please email your name, city, and electronic
signature to email@example.com by 10:00 a.m. tomorrow (July
14) to be included.
Cities are facing major public health and public safety
challenges at the same time we are facing an unprecedented fiscal
crisis. Simply put, demand and need for core local government services
has increased significantly at the same time we are all projecting
unprecedented levels of revenue loss. As metropolitan area economies generate
over 91 percent of the nation's GDP, direct flexible fiscal assistance to
local governments is how to spur an economic comeback.
We encourage city officials to continue visiting with your
members of Congress, as well as Senators Cornyn and Cruz, to communicate the
needs of your city. ?Now, while the Senate is in recess, call your
senators and representatives. We also urge city officials to engage with
your business community leaders to call on members of Congress and senators
in support of additional direct flexible funding.
We are thankful for your voice during these trying times and we
appreciate all that you are doing on behalf your communities.
What happened today with regard to the Republican Party of
Texas state convention at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston
and why does it matter to city officials?
Citing concerns over the spread of Coronavirus in the Houston
area, Mayor Sylvester Turner relied on a force majeure clause to cancel the
contract with the Republican Party of Texas and refuse the use of the city’s
convention center. The Party sued the City in district court and lost,
and then sought an opinion from the Texas Supreme Court. The
Supreme Court issued a short opinion denying the Party’s request that it order
the mayor and City to allow the convention.
The case is obviously highly-politicized, and the League
doesn’t weigh in on such political issues. But the Court’s opinion does
provide some guidance with regard to municipal facilities. The
governor’s current executive order allows local government “operations, including
county and municipal governmental operations relating to licensing (including
marriage licenses), permitting, recordation, and document-filing services, as
determined by the local government.” And there is no occupancy limit on
So what happened with the lawsuit? The Party essentially
claimed that the governor’s orders and the U.S. and Texas Constitutions
allowed them, by right, to use the City’s facility. The Court’s opinion
rebuked those claims, and it would seem to solidify the notion that city
officials maintain control over their facilities. The logic applies to
any city facility: a sports field complex, a park, a library,
Whether that means opening them up or keeping them closed,
it’s another good opinion from the Court for city discretion. The
governor’s order also provides that “Nothing in this executive order or the
DSHS minimum standards precludes requiring a customer to follow additional
hygiene measures when obtaining services.” That means a city can open
its facilities with whichever protocols are deemed appropriate.
Are there ongoing efforts to ease state-issued restrictions on
the use of federal Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) revenue by cities in
counties under 500,000 population?
Yes. The City of Waco drafted a letter asking the governor to consider
eliminating the so-called “75 percent limitation” on the use of CRF funds for
cities located in counties under 500,000 population. As of today, almost
30 mayors have signed the letter. Other mayors interested in signing on
to Waco’s letter are encouraged to email their name, city, and electronic signature
to Ashley Nystrom with the City of Waco at AshleyN@wacotx.gov by 10:00 a.m. tomorrow (July
14). Note that this a deadline extension.
The League sent a letter to Governor Abbott last month asking him to
eliminate the 75 percent limitation in order to free up federal dollars for use
on economic support for local businesses, among other things. No action has
yet been taken on the spending limitations, which prompted Waco to take the
lead on this new request.
Where can I go to see exactly what business and activities are
allowed by the governor’s orders as of now?
Check out www.open.texas.gov. This is the governor’s Open
Texas web page. On it, you’ll find a list of each allowable business or
activity, along with a link to the Department of State Health Services
guidance on allowable occupancy limits, the most recent statewide mask order,
Where can I find archived issues of the TML Coronavirus
TML Coronavirus Updates are archived by date here and by subject here.