News & Press: Member Update

ACEC Texas Member Update - June 5, 2020

Friday, June 5, 2020  
Posted by: Michael Hancock
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ACEC Texas

Member Update

June 5, 2020

Comptroller Releases New Sales Tax Revenue Numbers for May

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar released the state sales tax revenue for the month of May this week. Revenue totaled $2.61 billion, which is a 13.2% decline from the same period last year. This marks the steepest year-over-year decline since January 2010. The majority of May sales tax revenue is based on sales made in April and remitted to the agency in May. “Significant declines in sales tax receipts were evident in all major economic sectors, with the exception of telecommunications services,” Comptroller Hegar said. “The steepest decline was in collections from oil and gas mining, as energy companies cut well drilling and completion spending following the crash in oil prices. The business closures and restrictions and stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic spurred deep drops in collections from restaurants, amusement and recreation services, and physical retail stores. These declines were offset in part by increases from big box retailers and grocery stores that remained open as essential businesses, online retailers and restaurants that could readily pivot to takeout and delivery service.”

“With the easing of state and local government social distancing orders beginning in May, business activity in the sectors most affected by measures to curb the pandemic should begin to slowly recover, but operations resuming at reduced capacity will result in continued reductions in employment, income and activity subject to sales tax for months to come,” Hegar concluded.

To view the complete press release, please click on the following: Comptroller Press Release.

Ransomware Update from TxDOT

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has been in constant communication with ACEC Texas regarding agency operations during COVID-19 and the recent ransomware attack on the agency. The following MEMO from Anh Selissen, TxDOT Chief Information Officer, was sent to ACEC Texas yesterday afternoon:

On May 14, 2020, TxDOT experienced a ransomware event that impacted the Department’s Systems Technology. Upon the occurrence of the event, the incident was immediately reported to the Department’s Cybersecurity Operations Center and the Department activated its incident response plan. The Department, along with its third-party incident response partners, quickly contained the incident, instituted remediation and recovery efforts and applied additional security measures. The Department also notified and solicited the assistance of law enforcement, including local authorities and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, to assist with the matter and the investigation. The investigation by the Department and law enforcement agencies into the ransomware event is ongoing.

On May 22nd, TxDOT and it’s 3rd party Incident Response partners, Microsoft and AT&T, have determined and validated that there has been no data infiltration of personally identifiable information.

ACEC Texas will continue to send updates from TxDOT as we receive them. We have developed a TxDOT webpage on our website with all agency updates, which can be accessed by clicking on the following link: ACEC Texas: TxDOT Updates.

Congress Approves PPP Flexibility Act

Following approval by the U.S. House last week, the U.S. Senate passed legislation this week to provide more flexibility to businesses that received loans from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The bill now heads to President Trump’s desk for final approval. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has been administering the newly created loan program for small businesses affected by COVID-19 and needing vital funding aid. However, PPP loans also came with strict guidelines for business owners in order for their loan to be fully forgiven. This included only using the funding for payroll costs (75% of forgiven amount must be used on payroll), interest on mortgages, rent, utilities, and deadlines for rehiring and using the funds.

Highlights from the bill include reducing the required amount of aid money used on payroll from 75% to 60%, allowing businesses 6 months instead of 2 months to use the funds, and pushing back the deadline to rehire workers.
ACEC National issued a letter of support for the bill, which can be viewed here:
ACEC National Letter on PPP Flexibility Act.

ACEC National Releases 7th Wave of COVID-19 Business Impact Survey

The ACEC National Research Institute released their 7th Wave of results from their COVID-19 Business Impact Survey. An interesting result showed that a majority of engineering firms across the country reported their businesses are more engaged in COVID-19 pandemic response, and also reported that areas of their businesses are performing better today compared to a few weeks ago. “The number of firms reporting growth in their businesses is encouraging and could signal an economic reawakening,” saidACEC Research Institute Board Chair John Carrato. “Despite pessimism on how quickly we will feel comfortable in the ‘new normal,’ engineering firms are still securing work and expanding into areas of COVID-19 response. This is a good indication of just how resilient our industry is to uncertainty. We still need to be wary about the loss of revenue being suffered by state and local governments though. There is often a lag before our industry feels the impact.”

A survey result to highlight and continue watching is the number of firms stating that new legislation recently passed by Congress (PPP Flexibility Act) would have a positive impact on their business. To view the complete results from the survey, please click on the following link:
Wave 7 Survey Results.

Governor Abbott Announces Phase III of Reopenings

Governor Greg Abbott announced this week Phase III of the plan to reopen the Texas economy. It includes allowing almost all businesses to operate at up to 50% capacity effective immediately (a few exceptions apply). To view a complete listing of Phase III guidelines for Texas businesses, please click on the following link: Governor Abbott Announces Phase III.

ACEC Texas Board of Directors Meeting

The ACEC Texas Board of Directors held their first quarterly board meeting of the 2020-2021 fiscal year on Thursday. Board members discussed the ongoing development of the ACEC Texas strategic plan following the completion of the membership surveys and telephone interviews, discussed industry related issues relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, and received an update on legislative and political work by members of the Public Policy Council (PPC). Thank you to all members who participated with the membership survey and phone interviews!

Public Policy Council Update

The PPC will host a virtual policy briefing on the state budget and fiscal matters on Friday, June 12th with special guest Dale Craymer, President of the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association (TTARA). Due to the 2020 Summer Public Affairs Conference being canceled, the PPC Steering Committee will virtually meet on June 18th to discuss ACEC Texas’s legislative priorities for the 2021 Legislative Session and the upcoming election cycle. All member firms are eligible to join the PPC, and we encourage you to do so. For more information on how to join and get involved, please contact Scott Stewart at or (512) 497-8847.

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