E-Newsletter

Texas Retailers Association

December 2020

In This Issue...

  1. Letter from the President 
  2. State Legislative Update - See full report
  3. Advocacy Update -  TRAPAC Fundraising
  4. Marsh Wortham - New Employee Benefits Portal/ Healthcare access
  5. Southwest Financial - Free Banking Program
  6. Lifelock - TRA's Identity Theft Protection Discount Program
  7. Amerex - Business Energy Program Savings Program
  8. Grocery Industry Update -  WIC/SNAP & Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel (EVAP)

Letter From the President

Hello Texas Retailers!

I hope you and your families are staying safe and healthy, and that everyone had nice Thanksgiving holidays late last month.  Additionally, I hope your stores are enjoying good holiday sales, even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spike significantly once again. We are hearing that the numbers for this year’s holiday shopping season are good, and overall, on par with last year’s record-breaking season. The weather has been pleasant so far, so hopefully that continues to drive shoppers to the stores, whether it be in person, to pick-up at curbside, or on-line. The good news is that we can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel with the COVID-19 vaccine beginning to be administered this week. As the retail industry’s trade association in Texas, TRA is immensely proud that several of our member companies have stepped up yet again during the pandemic and been approved to administer the COVID-19 vaccine. Thank you to these companies and all our members for continuing to be there for the communities you serve during this truly unprecedented time.

As of this writing, Texas retailers still have occupancy limits (up to 75% per the Governor’s announcement in late September), must require face covering of all individuals, and ensure social distancing. Our hope is that through continued adherence to these basic health and safety practices, along with more and more Texans being vaccinated each day from this point forward, it will minimize or eliminate the need for any further restrictions. The TRA team continues to be a key resource for our members and industry, as well as for local, state, and federal authorities who are making critical decisions for the communities across our state during this time. We are keeping members as up to date as possible via the TRA website, and suggest you check it often for important updates, details, and resources. We believe our collective efforts have been effective throughout the pandemic and we are committed to continuing to be your trusted voice.

Although we are focused on promoting and supporting our industry throughout the all-important holiday shopping season, as well as helping the industry manage through the COVID-19 pandemic, we are also busily preparing for 87th Texas Legislature, which will gavel in on January 12th. There is no doubt that this will be a very different session, if not the most different session ever, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the Legislature’s leaders haven’t yet released all of the details, they have provided enough initial information to let us know that the typical access the public has had to the Capitol, will be almost impossible at first, and likely very limited for most of the session. As such, your TRA team is already working to prepare and to get to know all the new elected officials, educating them about the importance of retail in Texas, so that we can continue to effectively represent retailers this coming session, even with the limitations COVID-19 has created. The most important change will be in the Speakership of the Texas House, where State Representative Dade Phelan has secured the necessary support to be the presumptive Speaker of the Texas House. Now the work begins, and rest assured that TRA already has the key relationships in place to further our agenda this coming session.

TRA is putting the final touches on our legislative priorities for the 87th session, and we will be sharing those with our membership early in the new year. As such, TRA members and the retail industry can expect that TRA will be aggressively working to protect retailers from any efforts to pass anti-business bills, particularly as lawmakers address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Additionally, our work on fighting against burdensome wage and labor laws and ordinances by passing a statewide law that would preempt local governments from unilaterally enacting local employment and labor laws will continue this coming session.

As the session really gets underway, we’ll look forward to seeing many of you for our always successful Texas Retailers Lobby Day at the State Capitol, which will be held virtually this session, on March 3rd. For more information about Lobby Day and to register to attend click here.

Thank you.

George Kelemen

TRA President/CEO


State Legislature Update

As we close out 2020 and prepare for the new year and the 87th Texas Legislative Session, TRA’s team is ready to take on the challenges that lay ahead and look forward to keeping Texas Retail Friendly. With more than 1000 bills already filed, new leadership in the House of Representatives, and yet unknown logistical circumstances we will face interacting in the legislative process this will truly be a session of opportunity for TRA members and the association. Our members have been at the forefront of implementing the protocols and procedures that have helped keep our customers and employees safe and we will bring that expertise and experience to lawmakers as they address the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We expect the bandwidth of the legislature to be mostly consumed by three big issues, COVID-19, the state’s budget and redistricting but know these issues are vastly complex and TRA stands ready to assist the legislature in any way. We ask that each of you participate in the weekly Tax and Legislative Committee calls and pass along any issues you are interested in or would like to know more about. To assist you in accessing information about the legislature, please check out TRA’s homepage for links to bill tracking, breaking news and policy discussions impacting the retail community. 


Advocacy Update


The Texas Retailers Association and the Texas Retailers Association PAC (TRAPAC) endorse the following members of the Texas Legislature for election in the 2020 general election.
TRA/ TRAPAC endorsements are based on professional connection to the retail industry (retailers, vendors, supply chain, etc..), support for the retail industry through legislative votes on issues of importance to Texas retailers, and sponsoring of and/ or championing of legislation important to Texas retailers. Click here to view the official list of TRA endorsements.

Email [email protected] or visit www.txretailers.org to make a donation to TRAPAC!


Texas Retailers Association Benefits Program 

 

The Texas Retailers Association (TRA) has been working to help solve a problem affecting our members and every business in the USaccess to affordable healthcare. COVID-19 has made that need more apparent than ever.

We are proud to bring you TRA Healthcare Solutions, available at the TRA Benefits Center website. With this solution, we can finally provide our members with access to high-quality, cost-effective health solutions that are flexible enough to meet your specific needs.

We fought to make sure that you would have access to medical, dental and vision plans from national carriers, but we didn’t stop there. This program will also provide access to cloud-based HR services, comprehensive business insurance, and new features to respond to COVID-19 like affordable telemedicine and virtual doctor visits.

Be on the lookout for more information from the TRA Benefits Center highlighting the benefits exclusive to TRA members. I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to support your employees.

Contact
David J. Hebert, Vice President - Client Executive
Office 713.276.8012
Cell: 281.606.2247
[email protected]

Christina Scott, Vice President - Client Executive
Office 572.379.2698
Cell: 512.497.4626
[email protected]


 

This year, the coronavirus has caused unexpected financial stress and hardship for many, which includes your employees.  Did you know that 65% of people are scared about the health aspect of COVID-19?  At the same time 80% of people are worried about the economic impact of COVID-19 and 48% of Americans say they fear severe financial hardship*. 

Southwest Financial understands that in many cases your employees are living paycheck to paycheck.  Imagine if your employees weren’t worrying about their daily finances.  How much more productive would they be?  Increased production equals increased revenue.

Invest in your employees today by partnering with Southwest Financial to provide your employees with the financial freedom they need.  Contact Venoka Daniels today at [email protected] or 214.580.9930 to give your employees access to a financial wellness benefit.

*Gallup news - In Us, more fear COVID-19 illness than financial harm, April 2020


 

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!


 

 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. Save on your gas, or electricity! Click Here to Learn More

Email: [email protected]

www.amerexenergyservices.com 


 Grocery Industry Update


A select group of retailers who operate pharmacies have been approved to administer the COVID vaccine.  TRA is working with the Texas Workforce Commission to help provide additional staffing to administer the vaccine at store level. 

Texas has created an Expert Vaccine Allocation Panel (EVAP) to work on the state’s allocation strategies and make recommendations on critical populations for allocations.  These recommendations go to DSHS Commissioner Hellerstedt and Governor Abbott for approval.  EVAP has only submitted and the Commissioner and Governor Abbott have only approved the EVAP Committee’s Phase 1A critical population definition.  The EVAP Committee has been working through their DRAFT Phase 1B definition for submission to the Commissioner and Governor. The Phase 1B DRAFT is currently three pages long.  This process and the time table is a work in progress.  Below is the listing of the first tier for administration.  Essential employees are likely to be in Phase 1B.

Texas:  Phase 1A (First Tier) - APPROVED

  • Hospital staff working directly with patients who are positive or at high risk for Covid-19
    • Including hospital physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, and support staff (custodial)
    • Clinical supporting hospital staff including laboratory, pharmacy, diagnostic, rehab
  • Long term care staff working directly with vulnerable residents
    • LTC direct care providers at nursing homes, assisted living, and state-supported living centers
    • LTC physicians, nurses, personal care assistants, custodial, and food service staff
  • EMS providers engaging in 911 emergency services
  • Home health workers, including hospice care, who directly interface with vulnerable and high risk patients
  • Residents of Long-term care facilities

 

Texas:  Phase 1A (Second Tier) - APPROVED

  • Staff in outpatient care offices who interact with symptomatic patients
    • Including physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and support staff (custodial)
    • Clinical staff including diagnostic, laboratory and rehab services
  • Direct care staff in freestanding emergency medical care facilities and urgent care clinics
  • Community pharmacy staff who may provide direct services to clients, including

 

Texas SNAP gained approval to increase the December Lone Star benefits to the maximum per family size.  The amount of additional SNAP benefits loaded onto Lone Star cards is close to $200 million.  In the month of November, new SNAP recipients numbered 900,000 and the benefits were 12.7% more than last year.

Texas WIC continues to be fairly steady with almost 700,000 participants. 

Please see the article below for some interesting statistics including after the pandemic 3 in 5 customers say they will continue to experiment with new recipes at home.  Also an interesting sales chart regarding different meat customers and buying habit.

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas and an extremely Happy New Year.

For questions on Grocery Industry Issues, please contact Gary Huddleston

 


Contact Information | 1250 S Capital of Texas Hwy 3-400 | (512) 472-8261