E-Newsletter

Texas Retailers Association

December 2019

In This Issue...

  1. Letter from the President
  2. Advocacy Update - State Issues, Paid Sick Leave Update, USMCA
  3. Special Announcements - NGA Show 2020, TRAPAC, Membership Campaign
  4. Grocer's Corner - In the Cart - EOY Thoughts, WIC/SNAP, SouperBowl of Caring

Letter From the President

Happy Holidays Texas Retailers:

The holiday shopping season is in full swing and by all accounts Texas retailers are faring very well this year. The economy continues to be strong, unemployment is even lower than at this point last year, and the weather has been pleasant. Your TRA team has been busy as well, promoting Texas retail during this holiday shopping season. As you may have seen in our various social media posts, we have had opportunities to speak on behalf of Texas retail regarding the holiday shopping season, with media outlets from across the state. Although we are focused on promoting and supporting our industry throughout the all-important holiday shopping season, we are also busily preparing for 2020, which will be a very important year.

It’s also been a busy last few weeks on the advocacy front at the state and federal levels, as well as with our preparations for TRA’s events in 2020. Here in Austin, the Texas House Speaker and Lt. Governor (presiding officer of the Senate) each released their respective lists of interim charges. There is more detailed information later in this newsletter, but two major issues which will be studies during the interim are the inventory tax and wage and labor ordinances. TRA is already engaged on the interim charges, having provided testimony on the inventory tax burden at the initial Senate Finance Committee hearing of the interim, during this month. On the Federal level, the end of the year typically brings with it a flurry of activity and this year is no exception. Just last week, two major retailer priorities saw major breakthroughs and are now on paths toward successful conclusions. The Trump Administration and House Speaker Pelosi announced an agreement which paves the way for passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement (USMCA), which is the update to NAFTA. The House vote on USMCA is expected this week and it is expected to pass overwhelmingly. Additionally, late last week, the U.S. and China announced an agreement on the so called Phase One trade deal, which essentially freezes tariffs at current rates, suspends previously announced tariffs which were due to go into effect later this month, and sets the stage for negotiations to reduce previously enacted tariffs on Chinese imports. Both developments are very good news regarding two key priorities which TRA and its members and partners have been working on for nearly two years. See the advocacy update in this newsletter for kore details on each of these developments.

Lastly, with 2020 around the corner, the TRA team is already hard at work planning next year’s TRA member events. On the schedule for next year are TRA’s biannual Advocacy Summit, which will take place March 6-8, and TRA’s annual Texas Retailers Forum, which will take place on July 20. Both events will take place in the Austin/ Central Texas area at two great resort properties and be very convenient to attend. See more information on TRA’s Advocacy Summit and annual Forum in this newsletter and on the TRA website. I encourage all of you to make plans to attend, as well as sponsor TRA signature member events for 2020.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me or any member of the TRA staff team at any time. As always, thank you for supporting TRA. Happy Holidays to all of you and your families, and best wishes on a successful holiday sales season.


Advocacy Update

 

State Issues Update

December in the Texas Capitol has been busy on both the policy and political fronts. First, George was able to attend and testify during the Senate Finance Committee hearing earlier this month discussing inventory tax. The hearing was a great opportunity to keep this very important issue on the front burner for the committee and hopefully help shape the conversation a bit more going into next session. George did a great job and we appreciate all of the TRA members who helped us gather information prior to the hearing.  If you would like to watch the video of the hearing you can see it here. On the House side, Speaker Dennis Bonnen also released interim study charges which we believe have a number of key opportunities for the association to engage on the issues important to retailers across the state. A complete list of the House Interim Charges can be viewed here. We expect to see lots of hearings in both chambers to begin to be scheduled after the holidays and TRA will keep you informed of those postings.

Lastly, on the political front, the statewide filing deadline passed on December 9th and while there were some surprises  with both those jumping in at the last minute and jumping out, the real news is the political season is now in full swing. Fundraising is off and running and as always, TRA needs your support to make sure we have another group of Texas elected officials who want to keep this state retail friendly.  If you have any questions about how to make a contribution to TRAPAC or need help with delivering your own political contributions, please contact George or Diana at any time. 

Thanks again for making 2019 a successful year for TRA in the halls of the capitol. Your voice and assistance is critical to the impact we have and it is greatly appreciated! 

All of your legislative issues, hearings and notices can be  found here.  if you have any questions or need additional information please contact us.


Paid Sick Leave Update

SAN ANTONIO: On November 21st, State District Judge Sakai in San Antonio, granted TRA’s for temporary injunction regarding San Antonio’s “Safe and Sick Leave” Ordinance (PSL ordinance). This is great news because the ordinance was set to go into effect on Dec. 1. By enjoining substantially, the same ordinance declared unconstitutional by the 3rd Court of Appeals, the Court preserves the status quo for employers during this critical time of year.  TRA is encouraged by today’s ruling in San Antonio and hopes the City is encouraged to redirect public resources from taxpayer funded litigation. Congratulations to the TRA team working on this issue (Gary Huddleston and Roland Gonzales), and a huge THANKS goes to the TRA member companies who have helped our efforts fighting against PSL through financial, informational, and resource contributions. The fight continues!

AUSTIN: Currently on hold and at the Supreme Court of Texas (SCOTX) level. The court took briefs on this case until Dec. 4th. We are hopeful the court will decide to take up the case in Jan. or Feb., with a decision in the springtime. If the SCOTX does take up the Austin PSL case, it would send major signal to the San Antonio and Dallas courts to hold on any action until the Supreme court issues a ruling, which would have statewide implications.

DALLAS: 
Being challenged in Federal District Court, but in effect, but without penalties being enforced until April 1, 2020. Since the ordinance is in effect, TRA recommends companies comply with the provisions. Recently, the Federal District Court denied the City of Dallas’ motion for a new venue, which was a positive sign for retailers. If the SCOTX decides to take up the Austin PSL case, it would send major signal to the San Antonio and Dallas courts to hold on any action until the Supreme court issues a ruling, which would have statewide implications.

TRA will continue to engage on these cases on behalf of Texas retailers and we will provide updates as they become available.


Comments or questions on this issue can be emailed here.
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Federal Issues Update

USMCA: On December 10, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and his Canadian and Mexican counterparts signed a 27-page protocol of amendment to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in Mexico City. This protocol was the outcome of several months of negotiations between USTR and House Democrats — and subsequently with the Mexican government — to address concerns voiced by Democrats about the agreement’s provisions relating to enforcement, labor, the environment, and intellectual property protections for biopharmaceuticals. The Canadian government also supported the protocol. The same day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hosted a press conference in the Capitol with nearly two dozen House Democrats to announce their support for the agreement. 

Upon scrutinizing the protocol revising the agreement, broad-based business organizations in the USMCA Coalition such as Texas Retailers Association, Business Roundtable, National Association of Manufacturers, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce again voiced support for the agreement and its approval by the House this year. However, they and other groups voiced concern about some of the changes, most notably those relating to intellectual property protections for biologics, and expressed a view that in this area the agreement should not stand as a precedent for future trade agreements. 

While a large majority of the House of Representatives is now expected to vote in favor of USMCA, the USMCA Coalition is in the process of conducting extensive outreach to members of Congress in the days leading up  to a floor vote. The hard work of coalition members to date has laid a firm foundation for the upcoming vote, but companies and associations are urged to circle back with key contacts on Capitol Hill, especially those where a constituent relationship exists, to reiterate the case for a favorable vote. 

The House vote is expected on December 18 or 19, though the final week of the year’s legislative calendar is likely to be dynamic, with votes on major appropriations legislation and other business also looming. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the Senate will take up the agreement in the new year.

The House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees will forgo “mock markups,” the traditional non-binding hearings in which the trade committees signal their preferences to the USTR on how to draft the implementing bill. USTR and the committee trade counsels are still at work on the implementing bill, which is expected to be sent to the Congress shortly.

As background, House Ways and Means Democrats released a fact sheet explaining the changes to USMCA included in the protocol of amendment relating to enforcement, labor, environment, and intellectual property protections. Additionally, Ways and Means Republicans released a document with the topline message “the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement negotiated by President Trump and his team will grow our strong economy. This trade deal is a win for American workers, farmers and manufacturers.” The Government of Canada also issued a summary of the protocol.




China Tariffs Update – Phase One Deal Announced – December 15 Tariffs Suspended, List 4A Reduced, Other Tariffs Remain

Yesterday, President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. and China have reached agreement on the Phase One trade deal.  This morning the President reaffirmed the deal via twitter (below).  The Chinese also held a press conference to state they had agreed to the deal as well.

@realDonaldTrump
: We have agreed to a very large Phase One Deal with China. They have agreed to many structural changes and massive purchases of Agricultural Product, Energy, and Manufactured Goods, plus much more. The 25% Tariffs will remain as is, with 7 1/2% put on much of the remainder....10:25 AM · Dec 13, 2019
@realDonaldTrump: .....The Penalty Tariffs set for December 15th will not be charged because of the fact that we made the deal. We will begin negotiations on the Phase Two Deal immediately, rather than waiting until after the 2020 Election. This is an amazing deal for all. Thank you! 10:25 AM · Dec 13, 2019. 

The United States Trade Representative has issued a press release that also affirms some of the details of the deal.  According to the press release, “The United States will be maintaining 25 percent tariffs on approximately $250 billion of Chinese imports, along with 7.5 percent tariffs on approximately $120 billion of Chinese imports.”  

NRF issued the following press release on the deal - Retailers Call China Trade Announcement ‘Right Direction’ But Say a Final Deal is Needed.

We will continue to share information with NRF members as it becomes available.  If you have any questions, please let me ([email protected]) know.


TRAPAC

One of the most important actions you can take to help influence the policy-making in Austin is to invest in TRAPAC or RAF, TRA’s political accounts. TRAPAC and RAF help amplify your voice at the Texas Capitol, protecting your business and our industry from legislation and regulation that could harm your bottom line.

TRA’s and the retail industry’s top legislative priorities that affect your business’ include:

  • Reducing and eliminating tax burdens such as the inventory tax on property, which Texas is only one of seven states still assessing.
  • Fighting against one size fits all wage and labor ordinances and regulations such as Paid Sick Leave and Predictive Scheduling.
  • Pushing back against other anti-business regulatory burdens.
  • TRAPAC is the Texas Retailers Association Political Action Committee and solicits contributions from TRA members to make political campaign contributions to state level elected officials in Texas.
  • RAF is TRA’s Retail Advocacy Fund which is TRA’s political account which helps offset non-PAC advocacy expenses incurred by TRA in our industry advocacy activities.

    ** NOTE: TRA members who have a federal PAC CAN contribute directly to TRAPAC, if contributions are accompanied by a letter from your company or PAC confirming the accompanying contribution is to be used for state level candidate contributions from TRAPAC. Please consider using this avenue to facilitate PAC to PAC contributions to TRAPAC.

For more information on supporting the TRA Political Action Funds click here.


If you could get the same service from FedEx that you do today, but for a lower cost, wouldn't you jump at the opportunity? Through the TRA Shipping Program, you can. When you enroll for this free TRA member benefit, you can ship FedEx the same way you do today. The only difference you'll notice will be the positive impact on your bottom line. Enroll today to save up to 27%* on select FedEx servicesVisit www.PartnerShip.com/01tra for complete program details. If you have any questions call 800-599-2902 or email [email protected]

Your FedEx and UPS Shipments Will Be More Expensive in 2019
FedEx and UPS rates are going up in 2019, and it’s more important than ever that TRA members know how to mitigate the impact to their business. PartnerShip®, the benefit provider that manages the TRA Shipping Program, has analyzed the new rate charts so TRA members can accurately prepare for the year ahead. Download the free white paper to see a break down of where you’ll find the highest increases and get a simplified explanation of the complicated changes you need to be aware of.


Special Announcements

 

NGA Show 2020

Over the course of three days, The NGA Show brings together independent retailers and wholesalers, food retail industry executives, food/CPG manufacturers and service provides for unparalleled opportunities to learn, engage, share, network, and innovate.  It’s a must-attend event for those who need to stay up-to-date on industry trends and best practices. 

A special registration discount is offered to members of the Texas Retailers Association.  Register at www.thengashow.com with Discount Code: TX15 to save 15%!

This year’s event features: 

  • Opening Keynote Address presented by Doris Kearns Goodwin, world-renowned presidential historian, sponsored by KraftHeinz.
  • Closing Address presented by Steven A. Robinson, former Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Chik-fil-A, Inc.  
  • Over 60 educational workshops and sessions providing valuable insights on industry trends, emerging issues and best practices you can apply immediately.
  • More than 100 speakers, featuring independent retailers and wholesalers, sharing best practices to help you increase your bottom line.
  • Over 400 exhibitors on the Expo Floor, showcasing innovative technologies and solutions to meet your every need and boost value for your business.
  • Plus, the Opening Night Reception, Creative Choice Awards, Best Bagger Competition & After Party, and Closing Party at the Hard Rock Hotel! 

Details on how to register click here.


 

As a member, you receive 10% off LifeLock services and you can live freely knowing that LifeLock is searching over a trillion data points every minute of every day looking for potential threats to your identity. When LifeLock finds your personal information being used, they will alert you through their patented Identity Alert System. Click here to sign up today!


New Membership Campaign

 Texas Retailers is continuing to offer a gift-card for every new member referral!


 A TRA-endorsed service provider since 2002, Amerex is the largest OTC (wholesale) natural gas, electricity and emissions trader in North America. Their real-time involvement in the wholesale energy market and their customized service has consistently yielded significant cost savings to TRA members. Click Here to Learn More

Email: Brandi Peck,
Phone: 281.340.5308
www.amerexenergyservices.com 




Southwest Financial is proud to be the preferred banking partner of the Texas Retailers Association.  At Southwest Financial, our mission is “Empowering You To Be Awesome!”  We want to make sure you and your associates have everything you need. 

We are committed to providing you with, personal service, great products and services, and the convenience of the credit union at your fingertips.  We strive to achieve this through our amazing team, service via text, video chat, our mobile app, and so much more!

These are just a few of the great employee benefits you can appreciate:

  • Provide the credit union benefit at no cost to your employees
  • Financial education tools available
  • Special promotions just for your employees
  • Great savings on loan rates…it’s like giving your employees a pay raise


All of this equals less financially stressed and more productive employees!

This benefit is available to you through the Texas Retailers Association.  If you would like to offer Southwest Financial as a banking benefit to your team members or associates.

Please contact Venoka Daniels at [email protected] or 214-580-9930 for more about this program.



Grocer's Corner - In the Cart


As 2019 comes to an end, I am reminded of what Colin Powell said “Perpetual Optimism is a force multiplier”. I am extremely optimistic for our food retailers in 2020. The economy continues to be strong, fuel and energy costs seem stable, unemployment is low and the online business appears to be solid. 

Below you will find Acosta’s 2020 Predictions which include:

  • Focus on Self Care
  • Emphasis on Sustainability
  • Buying Local Continues
  • Acosta Reveals Top 20 CPG Industry Predictions For 2020

Recently the FDA issued a warning regarding lettuce. Below you will find some additional information:
FDA is advising consumers not to eat; retailers/restaurants not to serve or sell; and suppliers/distributors not to ship or sell: Fresh Express brand Sunflower Crisp Chopped Salad Kits with this identifying information: UPC 0 71279 30906 4, beginning with lot code Z, and a best-before date up to and including 07DEC19.

Initial information indicates that the romaine lettuce contained in the salad kits eaten by ill people may have contained romaine from the Salinas growing region, while other ingredients in the kit may be from other growing regions.

Another subject of interest is CBD products. Many food retailers are beginning to sell these products. FMI has published a guide. CBD guide

On the WIC/SNAP front, USDA announced a new work rule for SNAP participants. You may have seen some national media attention on this subject.
Fortunately, the State of Texas SNAP distributions will not be affected in 2020. The SNAP distribution amounts continue to run 5-7% behind last years numbers.
In reference to your question regarding impact surrounding the new rule on work requirements; HHSC does not anticipate an impact to Texas caseloads as Texas does not use this waiver.

November statistics: 3,381,725 participants $384,340,314 -1.7% for the month -7.0% last year

WIC statistics: 688,764 -.5% for the month -3.9% last year

In January a group of food retailers will kickoff the Souper Bowl of Caring food drive www.tacklehunger.org to benefit local food banks. TRA applauds members who go above and beyond to support the communities they serve.

Wishing you a successful holiday season!

For questions on Grocery Industry Issues, please contact Gary Huddleston


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