President Biden has now signed the American Rescue Plan Act, a $1.9 trillion investment and stimulus package designed to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, into law. Matthew Oresman, Elizabeth Vella Moeller, Craig J. Saperstein, Brian E. Finch, Alexander B. Ginsberg, Aimee P. Ghosh, Zachary M. Kessler, Rose Fowler Lapp discuss the relief bill which includes a new round of stimulus payments, along with dedicated aid for state and local governments, support to expand COVID-19 vaccination and testing programs, housing support, cybersecurity investments, support for the restaurant industry, and funds for school reopening plans. The alert, Congress Passes $1.9 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Package also provides an overview of how the bill affects housing, mortgage, rental and utility assistance.
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 permits Shuttered Venue Operators to apply for both Paycheck Protection Program loans and Shuttered Venue Operator Grants. The American Rescue Plan Act, signed into law on March 11, 2021 and summarized here, includes a brief but important section that will permit the recipients of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans issued after December 27, 2020 to remain eligible for grants under the “Grants for Shuttered Venue Operators” (Grants) program, which the Small Business Administration (SBA) has yet to launch. Cecilia C. Wang, Alexander B. Ginsberg, Jenny Y. Liu provide additional insights in “Congress Appropriates New Funds, Extends Eligibility for Shuttered Venue Operator Grants.”
A federal judge in Texas has declared the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction moratorium unconstitutional, holding that Article I’s power to regulate interstate commerce and enact laws necessary and proper for such regulation does not include the power to suspend residential evictions on a nationwide basis. While the court stopped short of issuing immediate injunctive relief, instead relying on the CDC to “respect the declaratory judgment” and withdraw the Order, the court stated that such relief would be available if the government does not comply with the decision. With this ruling, the most significant prohibition on residential evictions for nonpayment of rent is likely to be lifted, and many residential evictions halted or delayed under the Order may begin in earnest. While additional tenant protections remain in certain locales, this federal ruling increases the likely rate and pace of residential eviction activity across the country.
February saw the usual array of significant environmental decisions and federal regulatory notices.
THE FEDERAL COURTS
U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
Luminant Generation v. EPA
The court will be grappling with a difficult venue case governed by the Clean Air Act (42 USC Section 7607(b)). In 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit decided the case of Luminant Generation v. EPA (714 F. 3d 841), in which the court upheld the affirmative defenses that were made part of the Texas State Implementation Plan (SIP) and which applied to certain unpermitted emissions from regulated sources during periods of startup, shutdown or malfunction. These defenses were challenged in the Fifth Circuit and were rejected. On the national stage, EPA has been involved in litigation over these affirmative defenses and recently excluded from a “SIP Call” the Texas program, which was carved out. This EPA decision is being challenged in the DC Circuit (see Case number 20-1115),with the State of Texas arguing as an intervenor that any issues involving Texas belong in the Fifth Circuit, and not in the DC Circuit because the Act allows regional issues to be decided in the regional federal courts.
“Hey Siri…” “Alexa…” “Okay Google…” These are just some of the buzzwords and phrases that have entered day-to-day vocabulary as a result of the explosion of smart technology. Internet of Things (IoT) devices are in our cars, in our workplaces and on our bodies. But nowhere is smart technology more prevalent than in our homes. The array of services that are available coupled with the growing number of companies and service providers eager to innovate, should only grow this technology’s market share in the coming years.
Over the past year, our attorneys have explored numerous insolvency topics affecting real estate. Together, the alerts in this series tackle many facets (and potential applications) of the Bankruptcy Code as potential balm and bane for owners, landlords and lenders trying to navigate a landscape made exponentially more treacherous by COVID-19 in Insolvency Issues, Real Estate and COVID-19.