Texas Retailers Newsletter: May 2019

Hello Texas Retailers:

May is here! The school year, like the Texas Legislative session, is in its final weeks, and it’s almost summer. The 86th Texas Legislative session is coming down to the wire as we quickly approach the May 27th “Sine Die,” or end of this session. Additionally, TRA’s work at the federal level has started to ramp up a bit, which featured a recent trip to Washington, DC to lobby on our federal priorities. The past month also featured the annual TREF golf tournament, which had a great turnout at a new venue, as well as continued work on planning and preparing for the annual TRA Forum, which will be in Austin on July 29th.

We are now in the home stretch of the 86th Texas Legislature. With roughly two weeks left in the session, the TRA team has already notched some legislative victories for TRA’s members and remains intensively focused on our industry’s legislative priorities. Specifically, our ongoing work to broaden the distribution schedule for SNAP benefits from 15 days to 28 days during the month, has been passed by the Legislature and is now awaiting the Governor's signature. Additionally, on the tax front, TRA successfully led the effort to kill an ill-advised bill which would have drastically cut the sales tax per-payment benefit which many of TRA’s members receive for remitting their sales tax payments to the state ahead of schedule. In the final days of the session, our fight to reduce or eliminate the outdated inventory tax on property, as well as the fight against burdensome wage and labor laws and ordinances will continue, as we seek to find? paths for them to work their way through the legislative process.

Our work on the federal level picked up this month with a trip to Washington, DC for the annual grocery industry fly-in known as the “Day in Washington,” which is organized by our national partners at the National Grocers Association (NGA) and the Food Marketing Institute (FMI). A great group of TRA members met with a dozen members of the Texas delegation, to give them a sense of how issues such as the “retail glitch,” the trade war with China, and passage of the new NAFTA, known as the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) impact Texas retailers. In fact, we were successful in our lobbying efforts of Sen. Cruz, as he signed onto the Senate retail glitch fix bill soon after meeting with our group. Click here to learn more and see how you can help by contacting your member of Congress.

Also, recently the annual TREF Golf Tournament took place in Houston. Held at Wildcat Golf Club, which served as a new venue for the TREF tournament, this year’s event was a great success. For more information on TREF and how you and your company can support the work of TRA’s education foundation, click here. Lastly, registration for the annual Texas Retailers Forum is open and in full swing. Join us this summer, here in Austin at the Omni Barton Creek Resort on July 29th for our annual industry showcase event, which will provide retailers with timely, topical and quality sessions and speakers. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet with and learn from retail industry leaders from across the state and country. Make plans to be there to help us honor our Federal Legislative Champion for 2019, Congressman Will Hurd, as well as state legislative champions and industry champions at networking functions such as our Awards Dinner, networking breaks, and our popular closing night party.  Registration and sponsorship details, as well as information about Forum is inside this newsletter. Secure your spot at this can’t miss retail industry event.

As always, thank you for supporting TRA.

Sincerely,

 

President/CEO
Texas Retailers Association

Legislative Update

We are currently in the last two weeks of the 86th Texas Legislative Session and Texas Retailers have once again already gained some significant wins and hope to have more on the way when we reach the final day on May 27th. Right now, the Senate is largely focusing on House bills and the House is busy processing Senate bills and with time ticking by almost every day of the last two weeks means more bills will not make it through the entire process. As of today, 103 bills have been sent to the Governor for his signature, at the end of last session more than 1200 bills were on his desk so to get anywhere near that total there is still lots of work yet to be done. Luckily, HB1218 by Rep. Klick and Sen. Perry (28-day SNAP Distribution) has been passed by both chambers and will be headed to the Governor’s desk any day. TRA is very excited to begin the implementation process with our grocery industry partners who played a key role in this long awaited issue being addressed by the legislature. Additionally, HB1525 by Rep. Burrows and Sen. Nelson (Wayfair Implementation/Marketplace Tax Collection) has been passed by the House and Senate and it too will be sent to the Governor for signature soon. Getting this bill through the process quickly is a testament to the hard work and dedication of both lawmakers and retailers across the state who volunteered their time and resources to insuring Texas passed a meaningful and functional  sale tax policy that can be looked at as a template for other states across the nation.

TRA staff continue to work on a number of issue throughout the last days of this session and welcome your input and questions about any issue that may be of interest. Please feel free to reach out to us at any time if we can be helpful.

For more information on the legislative process, TRA’s priority bills and news from the Capitol, please join us weekly for the TRA Tax and Legislative Conference Call on Thursdays at 2:00 PM CT.

 

Dallas County District Attorney Update:

The Dallas County District Attorney created quite a controversy when he announced his department would no longer prosecute theft cases involving personal items worth less than $750, unless evidence showed  it was for economic gain.  After an outcry from retailers he came back with a statement:  “Maybe I should say consumption items.  Maybe we should have put that word in there.  We are talking about food and formula that people need to live.  Maybe I should have said personal consumption items.”

TRA along with major retailers in Dallas met with the Dallas County Judge.  Judge Jenkins stated he was a “law and order guy”.  He understands how shoplifting can impact retailers.  TRA is providing the Judge with statistics proving how bad this policy, if continued, would be to the operations.

It also will discourage retailers from opening new facilities in Dallas County.  Judge Jenkins committed to meeting with the DA Creuzot.

If you operate in Dallas County and would like to provide some facts regarding shoplifting to be shared with the County Judge, please send to: [email protected]

 

Texas Retailers 86th Legislative Session Priorities

The Texas Retailers Association (TRA) has prepared legislative priorities for the 86th Texas Legislature. Collectively, TRA represents more than 320,000 retail establishments and over 3.5 million jobs across the state. The association supports all levels of Texas retail including grocery stores, chains and single location small businesses.

TRA’s goal is to keep Texas “retail-friendly” and ensure that legislative action is taken to protect business owners so that they can continue to employ hardworking Texans and serve communities across the great state of Texas.

• TRA supports a business-friendly regulatory environment. TRA member companies are regulated, licensed, inspected, and taxed by agencies in Texas and appreciate the Legislature’s efforts to continue to make Texas retail friendly. TRA supports regulation that is reasonable and that allows our members to continue to provide excellent customer service, top quality products and continued business success in the retail industry. TRA appreciates the various approaches our membership takes to providing these services and supports their efforts to make those choices independently without unnecessary regulatory burdens imposed by either the state or local governments. Additionally, in light of, the South Dakota v. Wayfair decision by the United States Supreme Court, TRA and its member-companies look forward to continuing work with our state’s elected officials to implement any legislation, rules, and regulations in a way that reflects the spirit of the level playing field for all retailers envisioned by the Court’s ruling.

• TRA supports Texas customers and communities. All TRA members provide the best service to all of their customers and communities and do so in a variety of ways. Whether providing food, clothing and essential supplies during the recent hurricanes, flooding and other natural disasters or providing school supplies and medication to those in need across the state, TRA’s members go above and beyond to support the customers that support their businesses. Our members coordinate closely with local, state and federal authorities in efforts to make sure our communities thrive throughout the year.

• TRA supports property tax relief. Retailers across Texas are subject to increasingly higher and higher property taxes, not only on their retail space but also on the inventories on their shelves. Texas business property taxes continue to serve as a significant disadvantage to the retail industry in our state. Inventory taxes stacked on top of ever rising taxes being assessed on our buildings drive costs up for our businesses and ultimately the customers we serve. Retail property across the state is unique in its position in the market and we support a regulatory framework that allows for accurate and fair valuation of that property.

86TH LEGISLATIVE SESSION PRIORITIES:

 LOCAL EMPLOYMENT ORDINANCE PRE-EMPTION - TRA will support passing statewide legislation that would preempt local governments from unilaterally enacting negative local employment and labor laws mandating employer benefits, employer hiring practices, scheduling, and other daily operational business practices.

• INVENTORY TAX RELIEF - TRA supports inventory property tax relief and repeal. Texas is one of only a handful of states that allows local property taxes to be assessed on retail inventories. Those other states are not states with whom Texas normally competes for new business and economic development opportunities. Additionally, inventory property tax relief is not selective, it benefits large and small businesses equally and attracts greater investment in the Texas economy.

• SNAP DISTRIBUTION SCHEDULE – Many TRA members participate in the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP) and want to do so as effectively and efficiently as possible to maximize customer experiences. Insuring product availability to our customers while also allowing retailers to manage employees and inventories is essential in this process. To do so, TRA will advocate to broaden the SNAP distribution schedule from its current 15 days to 28 days. This will provide both customers and businesses with a more even and predictable shopping experiences across the state.

ASSET

Asset Update:

The Dallas City Council passed a sick pay ordiance which resembles the ones passed in Austin and San Antonio.  TRA believes this ordinance will challenged by the Texas Attorney General prior to any implementation.  Also the Texas Legislature is considering several bills that would pre-empt cities or counties from passing some employment practices laws like paid sick time.  TRA is supporting and lobbying for this important legislation.

Senate Bills 2485, 2486, 2487, and 2488 by Senator Brandon Creighton were heard in the House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday, May 1st. State Affairs passed out Senate Bill 2486 (Predictive Scheduling) out of committee but left the other three bills pending. On Wednesday, May 14, the House State Affairs Committee passed out SB 2485, 2487, and 2488 out of committee. SB 2485 and 2487 included the non discrimination ordinance language originally in SB 15.

Each Senate Bill creates a statewide preemption for the following:

Senate Bill 2485 – Prohibiting Cities from Regulating Employment Benefits
Senate Bill 2486 – Prohibiting Cities from Regulating Scheduling Practices
Senate Bill 2487 – Prohibiting Cities from Regulating Leave Time, Including Vacation
Senate Bill 2488 – Prohibiting Cities from Regulating an Employer’s Hiring Practices

Information on ASSET:

ASSET is a non-profit coalition of job creation organizations that fights for policies that fuel the engines of our economy and protect Texas businesses from invasive and burdensome government regulations. ASSET collectively represents millions of employers and employees in the Lone Star State who believe employment and business operational decisions are best left to private employers, not government. To learn more about ASSET and its mission click here or visit www.ASSETtexas.com. 

Federal Update

TRA members and staff attended the annual Supermarket Fly-In hosted by the National Grocers Association and the Food Marketing Institute. TRA members and staff met with Members of the Texas Congressional Delegation, our two Senators, and their staff.

 

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tariffs Hurt Everyone

Retailers, workers and consumers continue to be impacted by tariffs.  The Administration has just announced that the U.S. will levy tariffs of 25% on an additional $300 billion worth of goods imported from China.  This brings the total to $550 billion, which covers virtually all goods imported by U.S. retailers from China.

To date, the Administration's tariffs have cost the U.S. more than $25 billion. According to research by the Trade Partnership, this recent increase will cost American families over $2,300 per year and result in nearly 1 million jobs lost

Tariffs are taxes on Americans. Tariffs are not collected from other countries. Tariffs don't enrich our country. They do the exact opposite: tariffs take money out of the pockets of the hard-working Americans who fuel our economy.

Let your members of Congress and the President know that tariffs are taxes hurting local retail businesses, workers and consumers.

 

TAKE ACTION

 

 

TREF Golf Tournament

The 2019 TREF Golf Tournament was held on Friday, May 3, 2019 at Wildcat Golf Club in Houston. The event was a success and brought golfers, suppliers, vendors, and others together to support the Texas Retailers Education Foundation and our scholarship fund and program support. 

Thank you to The Shelby Report for covering the golf tournament. Click here to view photos from the golf tournament!

 

2019 Texas Retailers Forum

The 2019 Texas Retailers Forum will be held at the Omni Barton Creek on July 29th, 2019 in Austin, TX. The Texas Retailers Forum will be one full day of breakout sessions, educational panels, and an awards dinner. We will also be honoring Representative Will Hurd as the Federal Legislative Champion. The Texas Retailers are very excited for our annual conference and hope you can join! 

Registration for members is $350 and non-members is $700. This includes all meals, educational opportunities, breakout sessions, and your tickets to the dinner and closing night party. Click here to register today! 

Member Spotlight: Best Buy

 Best Buy Logo

This month's Member Spotlight goes to Best Buy. Last month, Best Buy announced that its Chief Financial Officer Corie Barry will be its next chief executive, tasked with continuing the electronics retailer’s remarkable transformation under outgoing CEO Hubert Joly. Corie Barry will be Best Buy's first female CEO and is becoming one of the few women to lead an S&P 500 company. 

Best Buy CEO, CFO Share Thoughts On Evolution Of Leadership Roles

 

Water-Efficient Products Sales Tax Holiday: May 25-27

You can buy certain water-efficient and water-conserving products tax free during the Water-Efficient Products Sales Tax Holiday. There is no limit on the number of qualifying items you can buy. The 2019 holiday begins Saturday, May 25, and goes through Monday, May 27 (Memorial Day). Click here for more information.

 

ENERGY STAR® Sales Tax Holiday: May 25-27

You can buy certain ENERGY STAR® energy-efficient products tax-free during the annual Texas ENERGY STAR® Sales Tax Holiday. There is no limit on the number of qualifying items you can buy, and you do not need to give the seller an exemption certificate to buy items tax free. This year's tax-free ENERGY STAR Sales Tax Holiday begins Saturday, May 25, and goes through midnight on Monday, May 27 (Memorial Day). Click here for more information.

  

TRA-Endorsed Energy Solutions Provider: Amerex Energy Services

 

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

Contact: Brandi Peck, [email protected], 281.340.5308
www.amerexenergyservices.com

  

 

Grocers Corner- In the Cart

WIC/SNAP Program Statistics Update

 

SNAP March Numbers:

  • Participants: 3.5 Million
  • Dollars: $391 Million
  • 8% less dollars than last year and .01% less than last month.

WIC March Numbers:

  • Participants: 750,000
  • Dollars: $37.5 Million

 

‘Power of Bakery’ Report: Bakery Is A Driver Of Grocery Store Sales

A bakery in a grocery store drives store sales and encourages emotional connections with consumers, according to the results of the Power of Bakery Reporta report jointly released by the American Bakers Association (ABA) and Food Marketing Institute (FMI). Click here to read more.

 


The Retail Feedback Group (RFG), a provider of actionable stakeholder feedback, found in its most recent study that shoppers are interacting with their supermarket in various ways. The 2019 U.S. Supermarket Digital & Social Engagement Study is based on a nationally representative study of 1,200 supermarket shoppers. Click here to continue reading

 

Same FedEx Service. Lower Cost.


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.

 

 

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