HBA Updates on COVID-19

Page Navigation

If you are in need of legal advice, click here to sign up to receive a call from an attorney at no cost through the HBA's LegalLine program.

If you're an attorney and you would like to volunteer to give advice over the phone through LegalLine, click here to sign up.

 


 

Introduction

The health and safety of our members, our employees and the public is of paramount importance to the Houston Bar Association. The HBA is following the lead of the State Bar of Texas to address concerns over a rapidly developing situation involving the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

The HBA staff is currently working remotely to continue serving our members and the public. Our phone line, (713) 759-1133, will be answered from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. At this time, the HBA office at 1111 Bagby Street is not accepting in-person visitors. If you would like to contact a specific member of the HBA staff, see the email addresses at hba.org/staff.

If you need a referral to an attorney, visit hlrs.org or email info@hlrs.org.

If you cannot afford to hire an attorney for your civil legal matter and would like to apply for legal aid, call the Houston Volunteer Lawyers at (713) 228-0732 or visit makejusticehappen.org.

The HBA is monitoring local, state and federal agencies, as well as local, state and federal courts, and will post daily updates on the website and calendar as they develop.

Return to page navigation

 


 

HBA Updates

Programming

CLE Seminars: The HBA/CLE in-person Friday Seminars are canceled, until further notice. If you need CLE credit, please visit the HBA/CLE Webpage.

Section meetings: For the health and safety of our members and our staff, the HBA has directed that all HBA committee meetings that cannot be conducted by telephone or video conference are canceled until further notice. The HBA strongly urges that all sections do the same.
For updates on section events, see the HBA web calendar.
At the end of April, we will assess the situation with COVID-19 and determine how to move forward with HBA meetings and events. Please continue to monitor the HBA website for frequent updates.

Committee meetings: For the health and safety of our members and our staff,  all committee meetings and events scheduled that cannot be conducted by teleconference or videoconference are canceled until further notice. Please contact the HBA office with any questions. We will update regarding rescheduling of cancelled events as information becomes available.
For committee meetings, we hope that committee chairs can provide a call-in number through their law office or firm. If that is not an option, a free teleconference number may be available. Please contact Bonnie Simmons at bonnies@hba.org for more information.
At the end of April, we will assess the situation with COVID-19 and determine how to move forward with HBA meetings and events. Please continue to monitor the HBA website for frequent updates.

Veterans Legal Initiative clinics: The Veterans Administration has canceled all internal and external congregations for health and safety concerns due to COVID-19. Until further notice, all legal clinics scheduled at the Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center and the VA Outpatient Clinics are canceled.

Click here for the latest Houston Volunteer Lawyers update.

Events

The following HBA events are canceled:

  • April 18 – Special Olympics Tennis Tournament
  • April 20-May 15 – Law Week Reading program
  • April 25 – HBA's Food from the Bar Service Day

The following HBA events have been postponed or rescheduled:

  • Habitat house dedication – date TBA
  • HAY Center Prom Readiness Event – date TBA
  • Harris County Law Library 19th Amendment Symposium – date TBA
  • HBA Auxiliary Spring Luncheon – date TBA
  • Gender Fairness Management Breakfast – date TBA
  • Senior Lawyers Forum – date TBA
  • 2020 Criminal/Appellate Bench Bar Conference – now set for Thursday, September 24, 2020
  • HBA Professionalism Committee's Day of Civility in the Law – date TBA
  • Gender Fairness "Business Development for Women" – now set for Tuesday, September 29, 2020
  • HBA Annual Golf Tournament – now set for Wednesday, October 7, 2020
  • HBA Annual Dinner & 150th Anniversary Celebration – now set for Thursday, August 27, 2020
  • Leadership CLE "How to Move Up in a Law Firm" – now set for Thursday, June 11, 2020

Return to page navigation

 


 

Court & Government Office Links

Return to page navigation

 


 

Resource Links

 


 

C.A.R.E.S. Act Analysis

The CARES Act provides significant funding for governments, businesses, hospitals, schools, and social support programs, among many other things. Click here for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Guide and Checklist on emergency loans.

The following information is excerpted from the National Council of Nonprofits’ analysis of the CARES Act. These elements of the Act may be of particular interest to HBA members.

Paycheck Protection Program Loans (emergency SBA 7(a) loans): Creates an emergency loan program providing loans of up to $10 million for eligible nonprofits and small businesses, permitting them to cover costs of payroll, operations, and debt service, and provides that the loans will be forgiven in whole or in part under certain circumstances. Section 1102.

  • General Eligibility: Available to entities that existed on February 15, 2020 and had paid employees or paid independent contractors.
  • No Personal Guarantee: No personal guarantee or collateral will be required in securing a loan.
  • Loan Amount: The lesser of $10 million or 2.5 times the average total monthly payroll (including benefits) costs from the one-year period prior to the date of application.
  • Loan Use: Loan funds can be used to make payroll and associated costs, including health and retirement benefits, facilities costs, and debt service.
  • Loan Forgiveness: Employers that maintain employment for the eight weeks after the origination of the loan, or rehire employees by June 30, would be eligible to have their loans forgiven, essentially turning the loan into a grant. Section 1106.

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL): Creates emergency grants for eligible nonprofits and other applicants with 500 or fewer employees enabling them to receive checks for $10,000 within three days. Section 1110.

Employee Retention Payroll Tax Credit: Creates a refundable payroll tax credit of up to $5,000 for each employee on the payroll when certain conditions are met. The entity had to be an ongoing concern at the beginning of 2020, experienced a whole or partial shutdown, and had seen a drop in revenue of at least 50 percent in the first quarter compared to the first quarter of 2019. The availability of the credit would continue each quarter until the organization’s revenue exceeds 80 percent of the same quarter in 2019. For tax-exempt organizations, the entity’s whole operations must be taken into account when determining eligibility. Notably, employers receiving Paycheck Protection Program loans would not be eligible for these credits. Section 2301.

Delayed Payment of Payroll Taxes: Allows employers to delay payment of the employer portion payroll taxes in 2020; payable in equal halves at the end of 2021 and 2022. Section 2301.

Return to page navigation

 


 

Frequently Asked Family Law Questions

Provided by the HBA Family Law Section.

I have a court order in place. Should it be followed during a “shelter-in-place” or “stay-at home order?”
Yes. As of March 24, 2020, the Supreme Court of the State of Texas issued an order stating that all existing trial court orders currently in effect regarding possession and access shall control. Parties should continue to follow the schedule for visitation in their orders.

Should I expect a delay in my child support payments?
The Office of the Attorney General has issued a statement advising that they do not anticipate a delay in the processing of any child support payments received due to the coronavirus. The State Disbursement Unit and payment processing teams have a strong plan in place to ensure that payments continue to be processed and disbursed timely.

When am I able to get a hearing set?
Until further notice, the Harris County District Courts are not having in-person hearings except in emergency situations. Beginning April 1, 2020, some hearings may be set via video-conferencing. You should look at the website of the specific court your case is in for further information as each court is issuing their own specific rules.

Why is no one answering the phone?
Based upon the directives issued by Government Officials this week, many offices including law firms, court clerks, the Harris County District Clerk, and the Office of the Attorney General are working remotely. Please visit websites and contact staff via email.

Are my child custody orders affected by the stay-at-home order and COVID-19?
No. The Texas Supreme Court issued an emergency order on Tuesday that applies to possession schedules under suits affecting the parent-child relationship. The order says that a person’s right to possession of and access to a child will still be decided under the parents’ court-ordered possession schedule.

“Possession of and access to a child shall not be affected by any shelter-in-place order or other order restricting movement issued by a governmental entity that arises from an epidemic or pandemic, including what is commonly referred to as the COVID-19 pandemic,” the order said.

But, If you have been tested positive for COVID-19, or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, notify your child's other co-parent. It is important that parents work together to keep any adult or child who has been exposed or tested positive away from others in order to prevent community spread. If you or your child has been tested or treated by a physician, you should share that information with the other co-parent so they know you are not using this situation to withhold visitation unnecessarily but rather due to a health concern.

For answers to more frequently-asked family law questions, visit sll.texas.gov.

Return to page navigation

 


 

Questions or Comments

Questions or concerns about this page? Would you like to report an error or an update? Contact Carly Wood at carlyw@hba.org.

Return to page navigation