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Andrews Myers
Business Insight from the Ground Up
5th Circuit Upholds Decision that TIRZ Improvements Aren't a Taking for Surrounding Flooded Residents
by Mike Schiff   First some background: Many of our Texas clients have some affiliation with a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, or “TIRZ;” a political subdivision of a Texas municipality or county that finances improvements to infrastructure.  These zones rely on heavy participation from property owners within the zone, and fund improvements through the use of tax increment financing, either directly, or through the use of tax increments to fund bond issuances.
For private citizens to create a TIRZ, property owners in possession at least 50% of the value of a district petition the local government.  Assessed values of the property within the zone then freeze in place for public entities.  To the extent the property value increases, the amount of the increase is the “increment” used to fund improvements.  The actual amount of the increment, of course, is subject to negotiation by the local public taxing authorities.  The local government then passes an ordinance establishing a governing board for the TIRZ, usually consisting of the applicants, and making the TIRZ a distinct legal entity, which may then determine what projects to undertake, and how to fund them.  Read more...
Real Estate
Lien on Me: Landlord Liens in Commercial Leases
by Josh Harrison and Mahek Bhojani  Most commercial landlords in Texas understand that, generally speaking, they have a “Landlord’s Lien” on their tenants’ personal property in order to secure the tenants’ rental obligations.  But many landlords may not have enough of an understanding of what exactly this entails, until it is too late.  This is because, in Texas law, there are two different varieties of a landlord’s lien, and mistaking one for another could have serious consequences for the uninformed landlord.
The Statutory Landlord’s Lien
Chapter 54 of the Texas Property Code gives landlords a lien on their tenants’ property for “rent that is due and for rent that is to become due.”  This is often referred to as a statutory lien, and it arises as a matter of law, meaning that a landlord has this lien right over its tenant’s property whether the landlord does anything else with it or not.  As soon as the lease is executed, the statutory landlord’s lien is automatic.  Read more...
Austin Office Celebrates 5th Year

Five years ago this month, Andrews Myers expanded into the Central Texas region with a presence in downtown Austin.  In five short years the office outgrew the former space and relocated to 919 Congress Ave.  Happy Anniversary!

Best Lawyers Recently launched the 2018 Edition of Austin & San Antonio Best Lawyers this month
Carson Fisk  was recognized as Austin's "2018 Lawyer of the Year" in Construction Law, and as one of the region's overall "2018 Lawyers of the Year."  Congratulations Carson!
Employees... Coming and Going
by Colby Hodges  The past two years have seen a marked increase in economic activity nation-wide and, particularly for Houston, a slow but steady climb out of the 2013-2015 doldrums for the energy industry. The economic uptick comes with new challenges for both business owners looking to retain and grow their current workforce, as well as employees looking for greener pastures. With this in mind, here are a handful of tips both employees and employers should think about as they navigate this cycle of economic growth.
For  employers: Now is the time to look at your employment agreements, update them as needed, and think about the manner in which your confidential business information is being protected.  Read more...
Employment Quick Takes
by Tony Stergio   Silica:  OSHA has issued 116 silica-related citations in the last six months.  While the agency maintains it is not doing programmed silica inspections at this time, if they see silica violations while out in the field, they are and will cite them.
I-9 Audits:  ICE is planning a surge of I-9 audits this summer.  Since October 2017, ICE’s Homeland Security Department has conducted over 3,500 worksite investigations, over 2,200 I-9 audits, and made nearly 600 criminal and over 600 administrative arrests.  This summer we will very likely see an additional increase from these heightened levels.
New Hire Reporting:  Remember, Texas employers must report all new hires and re-hires within 20 calendar days after the employee’s hire date.  If an employee is required to fill out a W-4, the employer generally should make such a report to the TWC.  The Texas Administrative Code provides a penalty of $25 for each occurrence in which an employer fails to report hiring an employee, or a penalty of $500 for conspiring with an employee to fail to file a report or submit a false or incomplete report.
U.S. Supreme Court Warns Creditors to get Statements about Financial Conditions in Writing
by Josh Judd   Generally, the bankruptcy code prevents individuals from discharging a debt in bankruptcy that is the result of a debtor’s fraud or false representations.  On June 4, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion finding that a dishonest debtor who makes false statements about his financial condition to a creditor can discharge the debt so long as the fraudulent statement was not in writing. 
In the case, the debtor hired a law firm to represent him in litigation.  The debtor became delinquent in his billings by more than $60,000 and the law firm threatened to withdraw from representation and place a lien on its work product until they were paid.  The parties met in person and the debtor told the law firm that he was expecting a tax refund of approximately $100,000, which the debtor promised to use to bring the law firm current.   Based upon this representation, the law firm continued to represent the debtor in the litigation.  Subsequently, the debtor received the tax refund but it was only $59,851.  Rather than paying the law firm, the debtor used the money to pay business expenses.  The parties met again and the debtor told the law firm that he had not yet received the refund.   Read more...
Join Us at Any of the Upcoming Special Events in June and July

June 25 - Elaine Howard is a panelist at Austin AGC's "Best Practice Tips for Employers" 
June 27 - Katy Gray, Brittany Cooperrider, Poston Pritchett and Colby Hodges conduct a panel discussion on "Strategies for Initial Phases of a Dispute," for ABC Young Leaders
June 28 - Elaine Howard and Mike Cortez present "Avoiding Employment Problems in Construction," to ABC Greater Houston members
July 12 - Ben Westcott is a featured speaker on "State of Texas Legislative Updates," at the MCA Texas Annual Convention
July 31 - Chris Love and Jason Walker present "A Subcontractors Right to Cure Under Texas Law," to ASA Houston members
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