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SIX CARRINGTON COLEMAN ATTORNEYS NAMED “RISING STARS” BY SUPER LAWYERS

Carrington Coleman is pleased to announce that six Carrington Coleman attorneys have been named “Rising Stars” by Super Lawyers. “Rising Stars” selection is a reflection of individual professional excellence, recognized by their peers. The Rising Stars list recognizes no more than 2.5 percent of attorneys in each state. To be eligible for inclusion in Rising Stars, a candidate must be either 40 years old or younger, or in practice for ten years or less.

Carrington Coleman “Rising Stars” and the area of law they were recognized in:
Parker GrahamEmployment & Labor
Whitney Keltch GreenFamily Law
Alex MoreSecurities Litigation
Debrán O’NeilBusiness Litigation
Andrea PerezBusiness & Corporate
Brent RubinBusiness Litigation

Debrán O’Neil had the additional distinction of being named to the Top 50 Up-and-Coming Women and the Top 100 Up-and-Coming lists.

AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT: IMPACT ON TEXAS COUNTIES AND CITIES

(Last updated March 15, 2021)

Last week, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) to provide further economic relief to state and local governments, with $130 billion going directly to cities and counties.

In Texas, counties and cities together should receive $16 billion of ARP funds. These local governments should receive substantially more ARP dollars as compared to other federal dollars (e.g., CRF or ERA funds).

Below are the most important takeaways of the brand-new ARP rules.

Takeaways

1. Counties and larger cities will receive ARP funds directly from Treasury. Larger cities and counties will receive their ARP funds directly from the US Treasury. These local governments will receive their ARP funds automatically, i.e., there is no application or qualification requirement.

2. State involvement for smaller cities. Smaller cities will receive ARP funds through disbursements from the State rather than Treasury directly. It is unclear whether smaller cities will be required to apply through the State in order to receive their allocation (but this will likely involve filing an application with TDEM).

3. More cities can participate. Unlike previous rounds of relief to local governments, this round does not have a population threshold, with nearly everyone receiving some funding.

4. Extended period. The deadline for spending ARP funds is December 31, 2024.

5. Recoupment risk. The failure to comply with the ARP rules may result in clawback or recoupment from the US Treasury.

6. Timing of the distribution of funds occurs in two tranches over 14 months or more. Texas cities and counties will receive ARP funds in two tranches: the first tranche, consisting of 50% of a recipient’s allocation, and the second tranche made no earlier than 12 months after the first tranche is received. Treasury must disburse the first tranche of funds to larger cities and counties by May 10.

7. Distribution of funds to States and smaller cities. Treasury will disburse funds to each State within 60 days after receipt of the State’s required certification, and the State must disburse those funds to smaller cities within 30 days of receiving such funds from Treasury.

8. Broad eligible use. The eligible use of funds should fall into one of these categories:

      1. COVID-related expenditures (directly or indirectly related);
      2. Premium pay for essential workers;
      3. Government service programs under certain circumstances; and
      4. Necessary improvements in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure (whether related or not to COVID-19).

Treasury guidance will likely release guidelines and frequently-asked-questions with clarification in the coming weeks.

Resources

Statute: Included on NACO’s webpage:
https://www.naco.org/sites/default/files/documents/BILLS-117hr1319enr.pdf

Treasury: Guidance and FAQs (not currently available)

Allocation: https://www.democrats.senate.gov/final-state-and-local-allocation-output-030821

Other: National Association of Counties (NACO)

Texas Municipal League (TML) resources page

Carrington Coleman COVID-19 Legal Resource Center

Questions? Please contact:

Bruce Hendrick Ted Harrington Kylie Jennings
bhendrick@ccsb.com tharrington@ccsb.com kjennings@ccsb.com
214.855.3033 214.855.3115 214.855.3080
TEXAS’ MASK MANDATE: WHAT EMPLOYERS SHOULD KNOW

(Last updated March 14, 2021)

On March 2, 2021, Governor Greg Abbott issued Executive Order GA-34, which lifts Texas’ mask mandate and COVID-19 operating limits for certain businesses, effective Wednesday, March 10, 2021.  If the hospitalized COVID-19 patients in a Texas county exceeds 15% for seven consecutive days, the county judge may implement COVID-19 mitigation strategies; however, no penalty may be imposed for failing to wear a mask or violating an order issued in response to COVID-19 and no business may be required to operate at less than 50% of total occupancy.  Notably, the order does not preclude businesses from requiring employees or customers to follow COVID-19 mitigation measures, including wearing a mask.

Before lifting mask requirements, Texas employers should consider the broader implications of doing so, including potential liability from employees and customers. Specifically, employers should consider the impact of OSHA and CDC guidelines that still recommend masks in public settings as well as other COVID-19 mitigation measures. And, of course, employers need to ensure compliance with OSHA’s General Duty Clause which requires employers to provide employees a workplace free from recognized hazards that can cause harm or death. We also anticipate OSHA will issue a new emergency rule related to COVID-19 protections soon given President Biden’s January 21 executive order calling for such by March 15, 2021. The Biden Administration’s announcement that it will aggressively enforce compliance with OSHA’s workplace safety standards, especially related to COVID-19 mitigation, lends further credence to the importance of employers considering and, if appropriate, implementing (or sustaining) OSHA’s and the CDC’s recommendations. Given all of this, we urge employers to consult with their Human Resources organization or their legal counsel regarding the risks and benefits before changing any policy on masks.

Questions? Please contact:

Christie Newkirk
cnewkirk@ccsb.com
214.855.3020
TREASURY’S NEW EMERGENCY RENTAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM

On January 5, the Consolidated Appropriations Act created the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERA) to assist households that are unable to pay rent and utilities due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ERA allocates $25 billion to local governments (both counties and cities) with a population of 200,000 or more.

Recipients can only use the funds to provide assistance to eligible households with rent and rental arrears, and utilities and home energy costs and arrears. Using ERA funds to pay for mortgage relief is outside the scope of the program and is not permitted.

The deadline to apply for the ERA is January 12.

Eligible grantees for the ERA funds are counties or cities with populations of more than 200,000 residents. At least 90% of the funds must be used to provide financial assistance to eligible households. The deadline for grantees to obligate the funds is September 30, 2021. Treasury has the power to recoup any unused funds. Grantees may also transfer any unused funds to their respective state to utilize in their assistance program before the September 2021 deadline.

Eligible household is defined as a renter household that has a household income at or below 80% of the area median and at least one individual living in the household: (1) qualifies for unemployment or has experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic; and (2) can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability.

Eligible households may receive up to 12 months of assistance, plus an additional 3 months if the grantee determines the extra months are needed to ensure housing stability and grantee funds are available. Either eligible households or landlords may submit an application for rental assistance through programs established by grantees.

Eligible grantees are directed to make payments to a lessor or utility provider on behalf of the eligible household, unless the lessor or utility provider does not agree to accept such funds from the grantee, in which case the grantee may make such payments directly to the eligible household for the purpose of making payments to the lessor or utility provider.

Individuals in need of mortgage assistance are notably left out of the ERA.

Deadlines

The deadline to submit the application for ERA funding is January 12. This application consists of a short list of terms and conditions, a form designating bank information for the receipt of funds, and a signature page.

Carrington Coleman’s Suggestion

Eligible counties and cities should submit the ERA terms and conditions as soon as possible. For counties and municipalities who received Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF), the amount disbursed under the ERA will likely be significantly less, but will still be a substantial amount that is important for assisting local communities. Final disbursement amounts are not yet available.

While there are still many outstanding details surrounding the ERA program, we recommend that counties and municipalities who meet the population requirement optimize these funds to assist those struggling to afford housing in their communities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Questions? Please contact:

Bruce Hendrick Ted Harrington Kylie Jennings
bhendrick@ccsb.com tharrington@ccsb.com kjennings@ccsb.com
214.855.3033 214.855.3115 214.855.3080
CARRINGTON COLEMAN ELECTS NEW PARTNERS FOR 2021

Carrington Coleman is pleased to announce Joshua Kipp, Michael Lin and Debrán O’Neil have been elected partners in the firm effective January 1, 2021. “Their hard work and dedication to the firm and our clients are second to none, and we are thrilled to have them join the partnership,” said Monica Latin, Carrington Coleman’s Managing Partner.

2021 Carrington Coleman Partners, Joshua Kipp, Michael Lin and Debrán O'Neil

Joshua Kipp and Debrán O’Neil are both in the Litigation Practice Group. Joshua’s practice includes real estate litigation and securities and director and officer litigation. Debrán’s practice focuses on healthcare and commercial litigation.

Michael Lin’s practice centers around transactional matters, including real estate and oil and gas transactions, corporate transactions, and financing and loans.

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