E-Newsletter

Texas Retailers Association

February 2020

In This Issue...

  1. Letter from the President
  2. Advocacy Update - Advocacy Summit, Forum, Sales Tax Rule Proposal, State of the Union Recap
  3. Special Announcements - NGA Show 2020, TRAPAC, QCare Workers Comp
  4. Grocer's Corner - In the Cart - WIC/SNAP Policy, SouperBowl of Caring Results

Letter From the President

Hello Texas Retailers!

2020 has gotten off to a quick start, so it’s hard to believe we are already in February. We hope your year is off to a good start as well. Your TRA team continues to work on planning our two signature member events for this year: the TRA Advocacy Summit, coming up March 6-8, and the annual TRA Retailers Forum in late July. We hope to see as many of you a possible at each event. More information on both events is available in this newsletter.

With 2020 being an election year, the importance of maintaining relationships with elected officials, at all levels, is reinforced. Certainly, TRA does this on behalf of our members and the industry, and we know that many of you do so as well. For example, a store, distribution center or facility tour for your elected officials can pay significant dividends, and it’s a very easy and basic way for you to highlight your store or business. It sounds so basic, but elected officials love having opportunities to tour a local store, business, or facility that operates in the area they represent. In fact, behind the scenes tours are even more effective with elected officials.  We know many of you are already doing store and facility tours for your elected officials, but it’s really something all retailers should be doing more of. Opportunities like facility tours, combined with the great advocacy you are already engaging in on behalf of our industry through personal visits, calls, emails and letters to your elected officials can truly be a winning formula.

The 2020 elections will once again be one of the most impactful in Texas. In what looks like a repeat of 2018, there is again expected to be quite a bit of turnover in the state legislature (including another new Speaker of the House), as well as within our Congressional delegation. Given that it will be such an important year electorally underscores the need for TRA to be active politically. We can only do that with your help, through your support of TRA’s Political Action Committee (TRAPAC), as well as to our general advocacy fund, the Retail Advocates Fund (RAF). Your support will help TRA support those candidates for state office who understand the importance of and support Texas retail. TRA events such as the Advocacy Summit, March 6-8, will be a great opportunity for members of TRA and the retail industry in Texas to spend valuable time with key lawmakers from our state. Specifically, to discuss the most topical advocacy issues facing the retail industry and network with Texas's most retail-friendly members of the Texas Legislature and Members of Congress.

The 2020 Texas Retailers Forum will again be in the Austin area and will take place at the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort, July 20. Our annual Forum will provide retailers with timely, topical and quality program sessions and speakers. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet with retail industry leaders from across the state and country at networking opportunities such as our Awards luncheon, networking breaks, and our closing Happy Hour.  Registration and sponsorship details and information about both great events is inside this newsletter. Make plans now to secure your company’s spot at these can’t miss events.

As always, thank you for supporting TRA and please feel free to reach out to the TRA team anytime.

 


Advocacy Summit



Texas Retailers Association is hosting its biannual Advocacy Summit on March 6-8, 2020 at the beautiful Horseshoe Bay Resort. The deadline to book your room has passed. To book your room, please let us know - we might be able to help you with your reservation. We will need to know arrival and departure dates. To see more information, schedule and sponsorship information, please click here.

You may also book your reservation online by clicking here

Click Here to see the schedule of events and click here to register for the event.


Advocacy Update

 

State Issues Update

February not only kicked things into high gear for activities in the Capitol but we also saw lots of activity at state agencies and on the campaign trail for many elected officials. First, Comptroller Glenn Hegar held an agency hearing on the much talked about Proposed Sales Tax Rule 3.334. This was followed the next day by a legislative hearing discussing the same topic in the House Ways and Means Committee (video link). The result of both of these events is ultimately unknown but the volume of testimony on this rule change did prompt Comptroller Hegar to extend the comment period to April 3, 2020. TRA is currently compiling information from member companies and welcomes your input. Anyone wishing to participate in drafting the rule comments feel free to reach out to TRA staff.

Next up on TRA’s agenda is providing testimony during a Senate State Affairs Committee hearing on Personal Property Protections. The committee will examine prosecution rates for thefts involving property valued under $1,000 and make recommendations to ensure law enforcement agencies and prosecutors have the tools necessary to thoroughly protect Texans' personal property from theft. TRA will provide testimony during the hearing and is asking for member companies to provide any relevant information that would be helpful in this testimony. This could play a significant role in developing legislative priorities for both lawmakers and the association during the 87th Texas Legislature that will begin in January 2021.

Lastly, early voting began across the state this week and the March primaries are right around the corner. Staying up to date and informed on election news and voter information is critical for our industry and TRA stands ready to  assist you in that process. If you have questions about candidates, issues or how you can participate in our PAC activities, please give us a call and let us know how we can help.

We will have full coverage of primary election results in the next edition of the TRA newsletter in mid-March. If you have any questions on State Issues, please feel free to reach out to Jim Sheer.

State of The Union Recap

President Trump delivered his fourth State of the Union Address on Tuesday, February 4, 2020. The speech’s major theme centered around the economic success of the last three years under his stewardship as President.  He argued that his economic achievements were brought about from cutting regulations and reversing Obama-era policies bringing about the addition of 7 million jobs and a low unemployment rate of 3.5 percent.

Below are a few summarized excerpts from the speech that highlight the President’s policy priorities that could impact independent grocers.

Opportunity Zones – Stressed the success of capital pouring into underserved areas as a result of Opportunity Zone policy included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

SNAP - Distinguished his economic policies from the previous Administration by arguing that his policies have helped bring 7 million people off the SNAP roles, while Democratic policies under President Obama added 10 million to SNAP.

USMCA – Delivered on promise to replace NAFTA with the USMCA agreement ratified by Congress six days ago.  Agreement is projected to create 100K jobs, boost exports, and ensure a higher level of fairness and reciprocity. 

China Tariffs – Recently signed Phase 1 deal with China that the Administration claims will rebalance trade relations, protect intellectual property, and expand markets for American businesses.

Infrastructure - Need for a highway bill to invest in new roads, bridges, and tunnels. All citizens should have access to high-speed Internet, especially in rural America.

Healthcare -

Healthcare Affordability - Highlighted executive order to advance healthcare price transparency which will lower prices next year;

Drug Pricing - Reinforced his support for lowering drug prices through quicker FDA approvals and making generic drugs more accessible. Specifically called for support of the Grassley-Wyden plan in the Senate Finance Committee, a bill which addresses retroactive DIR fees.

Private Insurance – Forcefully denounced healthcare proposals by Democrats that replace private insurance with a single-payer option.

Paid family leave – Highlighted expanding paid family leave to federal workforce and emphasized that it should serve as a model for private industry. Urges Congress to pass the Advancing Support for Working Families Act, a bill allowing families to take an advance on Child Tax Credit.

State of the Union Recap - Courtesy of National Grocers Association


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.




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You want a competitive choice on insurance coverage when employees get hurt at work. It needs to be affordable, protect your reputation as a good employer and be easy to understand. And when an employee gets hurt at work, you want access to the best medical providers, a strong legal defense and an efficient return to work, without delay and red
tape. QCARE—which stands for a ​Qualified Compensation Alternative for Recovering Employees​—provides all of these advantages. Click Here for more information on this new alternative to Worker's Compensation.


 

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 here 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!


 

 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


The Texas Department of Health & Human Services has recently published some new or revised regulations regarding WIC.

First, the agency has an updated regulation regarding the use of the WIC logo in advertising. The food retailer is not allowed to use the WIC logo in advertisements. The retailer can use the words: WIC Accepted Here. However, the use of the logo is prohibited. The policy can be found here.

Second, the agency has released information regarding the use of self checkout for WIC customers. This is a huge benefit for the customer and the retailer. The information click here.

Third, the agency is taking applications for additional products, specifically fruits & vegetables. This will benefit the WIC customer greatly. Retailers can get more information here.

The WIC redemption statistics have improved somewhat.  Last month 690,617 participants.  This is an increase of .3% over last month and 2.4% decline from last year.  The decline trend is lower than prior reports.

In terms of SNAP, several States are looking at procedures to allow for a SNAP transaction online. Thus the SNAP customer can order product for home delivery or store pick up. The most recent State is Washington. SNAP Online purchase pilot is now live in Washington state. Click here for more on this.


Souper Bowl of Caring Food Drive 


Pictured above at the Dallas Kick off is:  Robert Bollinger, Market Street, Christy Lara, Albertson’s, April Martin, Kroger, and  Jake Smith, Clear Channel.

The Souper Bowl of Caring Food Drive wrapped up Super Bowl Sunday.  Several TRA food retailer members along with the media, Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys and local food banks came together to raise a record amount of donated food and funds to feed hungry families in Texas. So far the Souper Bowl of Caring Food drive has collected over $9 million.  This is $1 million more than last year.  What a huge win for the Food Banks thanks to Texas food retailers like Albertson’s, H.E.B., Kroger, Randall’s, Tom Thumb and United.  Also TRA member Clear Channel helped promote the Food Drive. The results of the drive can be found here.

SNAP/WIC Statistics Summary

SNAP statistics last month: 3,307,067 and SNAP $369,987,725.  This trend continues to decline with dollars down

6% from last month and 7% decline from last year.

For questions on Grocery Industry Issues, please contact Gary Huddleston


 New Endorsed Provider for Insurance and Risk Management Services

 


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