Texas Retailers Newsletter: September 2019

Hello Texas Retailers:

Summer 2019 has come and gone and now we’re headed for fall. We hope you all enjoyed brisk back to school sales and are gearing up for a great fall and holiday season. This fall TRA is concentrating on a membership campaign to grow the ranks of TRA’s membership to include more sectors of the industry and have more geographic areas of the state represented within the association…AND, we are asking our members to help us. How YOU, our members, can help is by referring, identifying and, or connecting potential member companies to TRA. We ask that you review your networks of industry contacts to see if any who operate in Texas would make for new TRA members. If so, let us know about them, or send them our way and we’ll take it from there. TRA has a great story to tell and delivers solid member value, and we can think of no better way than to enlist our members in sharing what TRA is all about with potential new members.

Now that we are into September, TRA’s work on behalf of the Texas retail industry has picked up, as we aim toward the end of 2019. On the state level, bills which passed during this year’s Texas legislative session are now law (as of Sept. 1) and are transitioning into the rule-making phase before final implementation, and TRA is participating in many of those processes. On the federal level, Congress has returned from their August recess and TRA has already been on Capitol Hill in DC, advocating for retail industry priorities. Although the President signed a bipartisan two-year budget agreement in late July, Congress must pass a corresponding spending bill by the end of this month to prevent another possible federal government shutdown. TRA and our allies lobbied Congress this month to pass the appropriations bill (spending), so there are no disruptions like those caused during the partial federal government shutdown at the beginning of the year. Additionally, we pushed members of the Texas Congressional delegation to ratify the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which is the update to NAFTA, before the end of the year, as well as to find opportunities to make the much-needed technical corrections to the 2017 Tax Reform law. This fall will be a critical time for action on all these issues, as well as for a possible resolution to the trade war with China.

That said, it is more important than ever to engage your elected officials (state and federal) with store tours and other opportunities to discuss the state and federal issues that matter most to you and your business. Making it local and bringing it home for them helps them see the impact of their actions, or inactions. As we approach a very important election year in 2020, it’s important for you to educate them on the issues which matter most to you, as well as for you to know where they stand on our industry’s key issues. One way you and your company can help support and elect retail friendly legislators is by contributing to your industry Political Action Committee (PAC), the Texas Retailers Association PAC (TRAPAC). You can get the latest information on TRA’s advocacy efforts, as well as information on how you or your company can contribute to TRAPAC, by visiting the TRA website here.

Lastly, we want to say farewell to a great and valued colleague and member of TRA. As many of you know, Connie Yates with Albertson’s/Tom Thumb, officially retired from the company on September 6th, after over a quarter century. Connie’s contributions to her company, the industry and TRA are too numerous to mention; simply put, she has been an institution within our industry throughout her career. There is more information about Connie and her career in this month’s newsletter, which is only fitting, given what she has meant to TRA.

As always, thank you for supporting TRA.

Sincerely,

 

President/CEO
Texas Retailers Association

Legislative Update

 

 

NGA Committee Meeting in Washington D.C.

Will Hurd Photo  Roger Williams Photo

TRA President/CEO George Kelemen joined the National Grocers Association Government Relations Committee in Washington D.C. this week to lobby Members of Congress on the Texas Retailers Association's federal priorities for the fall: USMCA passage, fixes to the technical corrections to Tax Reform (QIP & NOL), China tariffs, payment processing, and CBD regulation. George met with Congressman Roger Williams and Congressman Will Hurd, where he was able to present Congressman Hurd with his "Federal Legislative Champion of the Year" award. Congressman Hurd shared the recent op-ed about the trade war with China he placed in USA Today and asked that we share it with our membership.

 

 

It's not realistic to cut US-China economic ties. We should compete and win instead.

 USA Today
Will Hurd, Opinion Contributor

 

We're too intertwined with China for Cold War containment and isolation to work. We're fighting a New War, and it's an economic competition we can win.

All Americans should be concerned about the potential for China to replace the United States as the most important economy in the world. We face a potential future where Mandarin and the yuan, not English and the dollar, dominate the global economy, and the U.S. government is pursuing the wrong strategy to prevent this reality.

Over the past two decades as a former CIA officer, partner in an international strategic consulting firm and now member of Congress on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I’ve seen how the Chinese government has threatened global supply chains, stolen American intellectual property and economically bullied smaller countries. Instead of pursuing a 19th century tit-for-tat tariff war, which is a self-imposed sales tax on American consumers, we should be collaborating with our allies to out-innovate China.

Decoupling from China is unrealistic

A common mistake in Washington is thinking about U.S.-China competition through a Cold War mentality that views Beijing as an adversary that we can contain and isolate like the Soviet Union. The United States and China are economically intertwined in a way that America and the Soviet Union never were and that America and Russia are not today. Regardless of presidential tweets saying that "we don't need China" andthatU.S. companies should find alternative markets, decoupling from China in the global economy is simply unrealistic and would be in neither country’s interest.

Meeting the unique challenge of facing head-to-head economic competition with an authoritarian regime that will one day surpass the United States as the world’s largest economy requires a new approach to ensure American competitiveness and protect our interests. We are not fighting a Cold War but a New War. And it is an economic competition we can win.

Chinese magazines highlighting the US-China trade war at a stand in Hong Kong on July 4, 2019. (Photo: Andy Wong, AP)

The first step in fighting this New War is to focus on trade policies that incentivize structural changes in China’s economy and its treatment of foreign companies and investors. The examples of Chinese economic misbehavior are too vast to list here, but the American consumer shouldn’t have to pay for Middle Kingdom misdeeds through tariffs. Instead of a tax on American consumers and businesses, we should have a policy of reciprocity.

If American companies and investors are unable to do something in China, then Chinese companies and investors should be unable to do those same things here. If American venture capital firms can’t invest in Chinese artificial intelligence companies, then Chinese capital shouldn’t be allowed in the American artificial intelligence (AI) industry. If U.S. software companies operating in China must turn over their source code to the Chinese government, then Chinese software companies will have to reciprocate in America.

Strengthen US economic networks

Another step necessary to be successful in this New War is to build a coalition to counter the Chinese government’s growing global influence. Strengthening North American supply chains will bolster advanced manufacturing in the Western Hemisphere, providing an alternative to China. Immediately ratifying the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement to bring NAFTA into the 21st century would provide a framework for attracting advanced manufacturing and technology production to places like San Antonio, Toronto and Monterrey — not Shanghai, Shenzhen and Beijing. We should take similar steps to strengthen economic ties and global supply chains with other countries in the region, such as Vietnam, which are wary of an aggressive China.

Old battle lines in this New War will still exist, like Hong Kong, Taiwan and human rights abuses, but the new line of conflict is advanced technology — artificial intelligence, 5G, the Internet of Things and aerospace engineering. China was clear about its intentions back in 2015 when it released the Made in China plan. By the year 2049, when China celebrates 100 years of communist rule, it is planning to be the world’s leader in advanced technology and manufacturing.

The United States and our allies will not prevent countries from doing business with Chinese companies like Huawei on the basis of security concerns alone, though there are a number of them. We must provide an alternative service or product that is better, more secure and less costly. We need to respond by out-innovating our opponent. Close cooperation between the government and the private sector will be essential to win this competition.

Instead of stifling innovation through onerous regulations or talking about breaking up great American companies that will be necessary to win this New War with Beijing, Washington should work on things like a national strategy to coordinate efforts across government, academia and the private sector to advance research, development and adoption of AI. Creating a national strategy would better prioritize limited government resources and more rapidly advance American AI technology.

Our workers need new skills

Washington should also be working to streamline legal immigration so that America continues to be the beneficiary of the decades long “brain drain” of the rest of the world. Today, there are more than 1 million international students studying in the United States, including more than 360,000 from China. The best and brightest from around the world are being educated here, and we need an immigration system that allows more of them to stay, particularly in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. If the Chinese want to steal our secrets, we should be stealing their engineers and scientists.

While we are attracting global talent, we must prepare our American workforce to meet the challenges of a 21st century economy and long-term competition with China. We simply do not have enough people to fill jobs in technology and advanced manufacturing. To continue to be the world leader in innovation, we have to retrain and "reskill" our workforce over time and prepare our kids for jobs that don’t even exist today.

To ensure that the free world continues to set the rules of the road in the global economy, America and its allies must work together to continue to be the world’s centers of innovation and technological advancement. By moving past Cold War-era thinking and implementing 21st century solutions to this New War, the United States can remain the world’s most important economy and continue to create opportunity for Americans and millions around the world.

Republican Will Hurd represents Texas' 23rd Congressional District. Follow him on Twitter: @HurdOnTheHill

 

TABC/Tobacco Legislative Update: 

This past legislative session, the Texas Legislature passed several laws which impact Texas retailers who sell beer and wine, as well as tobacco. These new laws went into effect on last Sunday, September 1st. Although we understand the Texas Alcoholic and Beverage Commission (TABC), as well as the Texas Comptroller’s office have communicated with our state’s retailers about these new laws and their impacts or changes, we wanted to make sure all TRA members had the most updated information.

 

Below for your reference are an industry notice from TABC, which includes a detailed document reflecting all of the changes impacting TABC enacted last session, as well as this link from the Comptroller’s office regarding the new Over 21 Tobacco law. The link contains helpful information along the right hand side. However, we understand that there is still ambiguity regarding what constitutes acceptable ID’s for the military exemptions for tobacco purchases. TRA is in contact with the Comptroller’s office on this issue and we have asked them to issue clarifying guidance to retailers ASAP. Here is a link to more information about including the "Texas Retailer Tobacco Packet." We will continue to monitor this and report back as we learn more details.

 

INDUSTRY NOTICE

August 23, 2019

New Laws You Need to Know About

 

This year, the Texas Legislature adopted several new laws that impact the alcoholic beverage industry. Some of these laws go into effect on September 1, 2019, while others take effect over the next two years.

To keep you informed, TABC has developed an online presentation that summarizes the impact of Texas’ 86th Legislative Session on the alcohol industry. This covers the TABC Sunset bill, the new state budget, and many other bills adopted by the Texas Legislature.

Click here to view TABC’s 86th Legislature Legislative Update.

 

 

Paid Sick Leave Update:

Dallas:
On July 29th, several plaintiffs aligned with TRA filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Collin County, in the northwest suburbs of Dallas, seeking to block the Dallas PSL ordinance. An initial hearing on this lawsuit is expected in the coming days. Although the court could rule to temporarily invalidate the Dallas PSL ordinance (while the full case is litigated), it is unfortunate that this outcome will not be known until possibly several days or even weeks into August. TRA and our business allies are confident this will be the result, however with it now being August 1st, the Dallas PSL ordinance is technically in effect at this time, although the city has stated that fines will not be levied until April 1, 2020. As a result TRA is strongly suggesting member companies who have employees working within the City Limits of Dallas do two things as of August 1st:

  • 1. Post the two signs (English/Spanish) in an area accessible to employees.
  • 2. Begin to accrue the sick pay hours for employees who work in the City of Dallas. (one hour for every 30 hours worked up to max. 64.)

We are hopeful the Court will recognize the issues we have with the ordinance and issue a ruling in the near future. TRA will notify members when we receive any additional information. 

You can access the Dallas Paid Sick Leave website by clicking this link: www.dallascityhall.com/paid-sick-leave

San Antonio:
Late last week TRA filed a petition for intervention, in support of a lawsuit filed by business groups in San Antonio, who are allied with TRA, to prevent the San Antonio PSL ordinance from going into effect on August 1. As a result of the litigation and TRA’s involvement, the San Antonio PSL ordinance is now stayed until December 1st, or until/ unless the ordinance is amended by the City to go into effect at a later date, which is a possibility.

Austin:
A group of business association, closely allied with TRA, filed suit last year to prevent the Austin PSL ordinance from going into effect. The litigation regarding the Austin paid sick leave ordinance is at the Texas Supreme Court and as a result the Austin PSL ordinance is stayed (meaning that the Austin PSL ordinance will not go into effect) until such time as the court issues a ruling. This is not expected until this fall at the earliest.

 

The 86th Legislature restored funding for retailer bonuses at an appropriation of $2.019 million for FY 2020. The Texas Lottery introduced a new bonus structure September 1, 2019, based on that appropriation. You can learn more here.

 

Texas Lottery Bonus Program

 

Donate to TRAPAC Today!

TRAPAC is the Political Action Committee (PAC) of the Texas Retailers Association. It is organized to take a bipartisan, non-ideological approach to contributing to candidates for state political office (State Representative, State Senator, Lt. Governor, Governor and other statewide positions) whose voting records and/or stated positions are supportive of the key issues of importance to the membership of the Texas Retailers Association. TRAPAC funds go towards direct expenses related to legislative and regulatory initiatives. Donations to TRAPAC must be personal money and not corporate funds. Click here to donate to TRAPAC!

However, contributions to the Retail Advocacy Fund (RAF) can be made with corporate funds. Contributions to the Retail Advocacy Fund (RAF) are considered an additional assessment to support the indirect expenses (non-lobbying and non-PAC) related to the government affairs work TRA does on your company’s behalf. Click here to donate to RAF!

If you have any questions about TRAPAC or RAF, please contact TRA at 512-472-8261 or email Justin Williamson, Director of Public Affairs.

 

Member Spotlight: Complete Data Systems

 

 

Contact Michael Armstrong at [email protected] or 940-294-8096 to learn more!

  

Association for Responsible Alternatives to Workers' Compensation

The ARAWC Innovation Series explains the goals of Texas injury benefit programs, and profiles amazing stories of the programs’ successes. The series is divided into six sections, each with dynamic, high quality, original video and written content.

 

 

TRA-Endorsed Insurance and Risk Management Services Provider: Marsh Wortham

Marsh Wortham Ad

 

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   

 

Thank You, Connie! Enjoy Your Retirement!

 

The Texas Retailers Association would like to congratulate Connie Yates on her retirement from Tom Thumb. Connie worked for Tom Thumb and Albertson's/Randall's for 27 years. Many of you have known Connie for a number of years as a competitor, but more importantly, we have counted Connie as a good friend. She has a strong faith in God, very loyal to her family and someone who values friendship. In her professional life, she has helped countless charitable groups, participated in many fundraisers and attended numerous non-profit events. She has extremely high ethical standards. It was our honor to work with Connie on a great many projects and issues affecting the retail and grocery industry. One of these projects was Souper Bowl of Caring. She always said this event was impressive for the number of pounds of food donated but just as important was the fact competitors worked together for a common good. Connie served as Board of Directors Chair for the Texas Retailers Association in 2015 and as the Mistress of Ceremonies for the Texas Retailers Forum Retail Industry Awards Dinner starting in 2016.

The Dallas Morning News wrote about Connie's retirement. You can read the article here.

 

Grocers Corner- In the Cart

WIC/SNAP Program Statistics Update

 

  • SNAP August stats showed a slight increase from the prior month of 1.4% in dollars and over 30,000 new participants.
  • Total SNAP payments $391,277,219
  • WIC also had a slight increase in participants of .03% over the prior month.  However for the year WIC is running -6.8%

Effective Oct. 1, WIC will have a new product list.  You can access the list below:

www.dshs.texas.gov/wichd

 

Food retailers should be aware of several changes being implemented or proposed to both the SNAP and WIC programs.

The USDA is proposing a rule change to eliminate Broad Based Categorial Eligibility for SNAP participants. The change could result in significant reduction in eligible participants. You can learn more here.

The USDA has proposed a change to the contract for Infant Formula. The Texas Retailers Association is working to have the USDA modify it’s policy to show any price increase on Infant Formal to be effective the month following rather than wait for the average price calculations.

The State WIC agency will introduce an interactive app early next year allowing participants to check benefits, have a shopping list of eligible products and scan a product to determine if it’s WIC eligible. More details to follow.

 

TRA - FMI tour Kroger Marketplace and North Texas Food Bank

The Texas Retailers Association helped organize a tour of a Kroger Marketplace store and the North Texas Food Bank for a group of energy and store design professionals.  The Food Marketing Institute held it’s energy and store design conference in Dallas this week. Jeff McEnaney, Kroger Facility Engineering, is discussing energy management in the produce department of the Kroger. The second photo is Erin Fincher, North Texas Food Bank, discussing how the Food Bank distributes food to over 250 pantries in North Texas.

 

IRI Survey: Younger Millennials Outspending Older Cohorts in Food/Bev

 

Consumer confidence has been up and down in 2019. Despite a strong start to the year, confidence dimmed at the end of Q1 2019. It currently is surging again due to a strong labor market, but trade issues could easily cloud this outlook. This mixed bag is impacting consumer spending on food and beverages, according to the latest IRI Consumer Connect survey findings that recently were released. Food inflation softened in Q1 2019 to 1.7 percent compared to 2.2 percent in 2018, but not everyone is freely opening their wallets. Younger Millennials (born 1990+) are outspending older generations in food dollars, while older cohorts are more likely to be using a number of money-saving tactics to keep food bills manageable. To get a closer look at the most recent food and beverage trends for the beginning of the year, IRI also released “Early View 2019.”

 

Hemp vs. Marijuana: CBD Products Continue to Confuse

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp by removing the crop and its derivatives from the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act. That not only set into motion a race to get more hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) products to consumers nationwide but also rampant confusion about their legality. Click here to read more.


 

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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