Texas Retailers Association

January 2020

In This Issue...

  1. Letter from the President
  2. Advocacy Update - State Issues, Tobacco 21, USMCA, Trade War
  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 New Year Texas Retailers!

Welcome to 2020 and a new decade! The 2019 holiday shopping season was another record setting sales season for Texas retailers. I hope all of your companies and stores benefited from the great Texas economy, low unemployment, and nice holiday weather. Additionally, I hope everyone enjoyed quality time with family and friends over the holidays. 2020 is already off to a quick start; state legislative interim hearings are taking place, the USMCA was just passed by Congress and will soon become a reality, and a hugely important election season is already in full swing. TRA and several of our member companies played a key role in the successful USMCA effort. Thanks to all of our members who supported the effort through your work and advocacy over the past two years, and as a result the “new NAFTA” will be implemented soon. TRA is also planning two can’t-miss events for our members in 2020.

As we wrapped up 2019, Congress passed a full year funding bill, which avoids a government shutdown for this year. Additionally, in late December 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 late last year, and sets the stage for negotiations to reduce previously enacted tariffs on Chinese imports. However, before we dive into TRA’s already full plate in this new year, we invite you to have one last look at last year through the great 2019 TRA highlight video our team produced. Take a look and relive some of the best TRA moments from last year.

At the state level, legislative interim hearings are already in full swing at the Texas Capitol. The two major issues impacting retailers which will be studied 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, last month. We expect additional interim hearings to take place throughout the winter and spring both here in Austin and across the state on these two very important issues.

2020 will also be a very important election year here in Texas, as well as nationally with the Presidential election, and most of the State Legislature and Congressional delegation on the ballot as well. The 2020 elections are looking to be even more impactful than the historic 2018 elections were. Texas will again have a new Speaker of the House and quite a few new members of the legislature, given the amount of retirements and intra-party primaries that have materialized. On the Congressional level, we will again have at least eight new faces in the Texas delegation because of retirements. The fact that 2020 will be such an important year electorally underscores the need for TRA to be active politically. We can only do that when our members support the association’s political efforts, through contributions to our PAC (TRAPAC), as well as to our general advocacy fund, the Retail Advocates Fund (RAF). Your support of these key tools will help TRA support those candidates for state or federal elective office who understand the importance of and support Texas retail.

TRA events such as the Advocacy Summit, March 6-8, will be great opportunities for members of TRA and the retail industry in Texas to spend valuable time with key lawmakers from our state.  Specifically, we’ll be discussing the most topical advocacy issues facing the retail industry and networking with Texas's most retail-friendly members of the Texas Legislature and Members of Congress. Click here for more details on how you can participate in the TRA Advocacy Summit. Lastly, the TRA team is already hard at work planning the annual TRA Texas Retailers Forum, which will take place on July 20th at the Hyatt Lost Lines Resort in Bastrop. Both events will take place in the Austin/Central Texas area at two great resort properties and are 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.

As we kick-off 2020, we hope that your year is off to a great start and look forward to having all of you along for the ride, in what is shaping up to be a very significant year for Texas. As always, thank you for supporting TRA, please feel free to reach out to the TRA team anytime, and we look forward to seeing all of you during 2020. Happy New Year!

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 is Feb 5, 2020. To book your room, please call 877-611-0112 and request to book a room under the Texas Retailers Advocacy Summit group. The agent will specify room type available as well as rate.

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

As we start a fresh new year and a new decade we wanted to take this opportunity to make sure you have the most up to date information available on all things both political and public policy related going into 2020. While we will provide direct alerts for any breaking news or ongoing policy discussion we know you have the need to dig a little deeper on specific issues and monitor developments that may be of interest to you or your business. Below you will find some helpful links that will allow you access to information we use and often refer to in email and phone conversations. These sites can help you navigate and interpret information from and trust they are reliable sources.  We are always here to provide additional information if needed but thought this was the appropriate time of year to fill your legislative and regulatory tool box with things you will need both throughout the interim and legislative session. 

Texas Legislature Online – The state based legislative landing page that is a good starting place for almost any research.

Video Broadcasts:   House | Senate
Today's Legislative Meetings:   House | Senate | All
86th House Interim Committee Charges
86th Senate Interim Committee Charges

Texas Register – Texas Register serves as the journal of state agency rulemaking for Texas. Information published in the Texas Register includes proposed, adopted, withdrawn and emergency rule actions, notices of state agency review of agency rules, governor's appointments, attorney general opinions, and miscellaneous documents such as requests for proposals.

Texas Statutes – Current Texas statutes and Texas Constitution
Legislative Clips - Legislative News Clippings from the Legislative Reference Library
Texas Tribune – Texas political and policy news coverage
Texas Tribune Election Coverage – Texas Tribune site dedicated to the 2020 election cycle.
Texas Secretary of State Elections Results – View historical and election night returns from across the state as they become available.

We are looking forward to a great 2020 continuing our partnership in making Texas Retail Friendly! 

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

Federal Issues Update

January 8-9, 2020 - TRA President/CEO George Kelemen, Chris Jones and Molly Phaffenroth from NGA recently met with representatives Kevin Brady, Brian Babin, and Laura Escobar (pictured from left to right) to push for passage of USMCA and fixes to the retail glitch.

Last week, retailers welcomed the Senate passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“The world has changed dramatically since the United States, Canada and Mexico first agreed to tear down barriers to free trade a quarter-century ago,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “This updated agreement will modernize trade among our closest trading partners and pave the way for continued prosperity across the borders of North America as the global economy continues to evolve. This agreement will support the millions of U.S. jobs that depend on free trade with Canada and Mexico and will ensure the continued availability of affordable everyday necessities for American families.” In Texas we could not agree more!

TRA and our national partners have been leading supporters of the effort to
modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement and we are pleased to see it finally come to fruition.

The USMCA was
approved by the House in December and now goes to President Trump for his signature.

Tobacco 21

As a part of the Federal Budget act (Public Law 116-94) passed late in 2019, the age to sell tobacco/vaping products Federally was raised to age 21.  The State of Texas raised the age to 21 effective 9/1/19 as a result of the passage of SB21 last session.  However Texas law had two exceptions:

  1. Active members of the military with Military ID could purchase if under 21.
  2. Individuals who were 18 on 9/1, could purchase between 18-21.

Both of these exceptions are not included in the new Federal Law. However, last week the FDA finally issued a public statement with regard to implementation of the Tobacco 21 provision in the government funding bill that standardized the age for purchasing tobacco products nationwide to 21. Following an initial post on FDA’s website regarding the change in law, our industry sought clarity from FDA with regard to enforcement.  In the statement below, we recognize that some retailers will need to update current practices to implement the law. During this period of transition, FDA states that the agency expects retailers to follow the law and take measures to ensure an individual purchasing a tobacco product is 21 or older, including manually checking IDs when needed. However, during this ramp-up period, FDA will continue to only use minors under the age of 18 in its compliance check program.

The full FDA statement is provided below.

“On Dec. 20, 2019, the President signed legislation amending the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and raising the federal minimum age of sale of tobacco products from 18 to 21 years. It is now illegal for a retailer to sell any tobacco product—including cigarettes, cigars and e-cigarettes—to anyone under 21.

Effective immediately, retailers must not sell tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21. FDA recognizes that both the agency and some retailers will need to update current practices to implement this new law as FDA will need time to do outreach and education to retailers and update the Agency’s programmatic work to reflect this change in law. During this period of transition, the FDA expects retailers to follow the law and take measures to ensure an individual purchasing a tobacco product is 21 or older, including manually checking IDs when needed. However, during this ramp-up period, FDA will continue to only use minors under the age of 18 in its compliance check program.

FDA has free resources available to assist retailers in calculating the age of customers. Retailers who use FDA’s This is Our Watch digital age verification calendar may update the minimum purchase age on the calendar to 21 years. Instructions on how to update the age on the digital calendar are available on FDA’s website. Retailers who would like a This is Our Watch digital age verification calendar may order one free of charge from FDA's Center for Tobacco Products Exchange Lab. Additionally, retailers who use FDA’s Age Calculator app should update the age limit to 21 years through the app settings. Instructions are provided within the help feature of the app.

FDA’s enforcement of the federal minimum age of purchase for tobacco products is ongoing. To date, the agency has conducted more than 1 million compliance checks of tobacco retailers.

FDA will be updating our website and other materials, including our regulations, in the near future to reflect the change in law.”

If you have any questions regarding this, please contact TRA. Thank you!

Flavored Vape and E-Cigarette Ban

On January 7th, FDA published new enforcement of bans on flavored vape products and e-cigarettes in the Federal Register. The effective date is 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, so this will go into effect on February 6th. As we understand it, all flavored vaping or e-cigarette products, other than tobacco or menthol flavors, will be banned as of Feb. 6th.

FDA summary of the new law: Beginning 30 days from the publication of the notice of availability of this guidance in the Federal Register (Feb. 6), the FDA intends to prioritize enforcement against these illegally marketed ENDS products by focusing on the following groups of products that do not have premarket authorization:

  • Any flavored, cartridge-based ENDS product (other than a tobacco- or menthol-flavored ENDS product);
  • All other ENDS products for which the manufacturer has failed to take (or is failing to take) adequate measures to prevent minors’ access; and
  • Any ENDS product that is targeted to minors or likely to promote use of ENDS by minors.

Comments or questions on this issue can be emailed here..

Comments or questions on this issue can be emailed here.

Truce to Trade War with China Officially Reached

On January 15, 2020 the “phase one” trade agreement between the United States and China was signed in Washington, DC. As part of the deal, the U.S. will cut in half 15% tariffs imposed on a wide range of  goods imposed in September, and it will cancel another round that was set to take effect in December. However, all other tariffs imposed on Chinese imports by the Trump Administration will remain in place.  Retailers strongly support this effort to address China’s unfair trading practices, but we hope this is indeed the first step toward eliminating all of the U.S. tariffs imposed over the past two years.


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]


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!

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

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

Recently Target hosted a number of elected and appointed officials at the Dallas Regional Chamber Annual Meeting.  The Texas Retailers Association also participated.  Guests included State Representative Morgan Meyer from District 108.  This District includes Downtown, Uptown Dallas, East Dallas, University and Highland Park including SMU.  Representative Morgan is Chair of the House General Investigating Committee and he serves on both the Public Education Committee and the Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee. 

Pictured above: Tracey Hester, Director of Government Affairs for Target and Chairman Meyer.

Other guests included Dallas City Council member, Adam Medrano and Dallas Chief of Police, Rene Hall. 

Major Food Retailers in the State kicked off the Souper Bowl of Caring Food Drive www.tacklehunger.org  The Souper Bowl of Caring is the largest Food Drive in the State and will result in over 5 million pounds of non-pershable product donated to a number of Food Banks in Texas.

The Souper Bowl of Caring Food Drive runs until Super Bowl Sunday Feb. 2.  Customers can purchased prepared bags/boxes of product at participating supermarkets.  The donations stay in the communities and are distributed by local food banks.  The Souper Bowl of Caring Food Drive is in the Austin, Dallas and Houston major markets as well as East and Southeast Texas.  This food drive brings competitors together in the Supermarket and Media industries to help others.  TRA member companies Albertson’s, H.E.B., Kroger, Market Street, Randall’s and Tom Thumb are partners as well as TRA member company Clear Channel Outdoor.  Other partners include major newspapers like the Dallas Morning News, Star Telegram, Houston Chronicle; Television partners like CBS, NBC, FOX, ABC and radio partners like Salem Communications. 

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

A few SNAP/WIC statistics:

SNAP participants number about 3,327,000 and $378,262,973 in funds.  This is just slightly less than Nov. at 1.7% decline, but 7% decline from last year.  The improved economy and lower unemployment has reduced the number of SNAP participants.

WIC participants number about 670,000. NEW NUMBER (688,000).   This is about the same as last month, but a 3.5% decline from last year.

WIC distribution amount was $40,944,000.

Click here to an interesting article about the affluent customer courtesy of Shelby Report.

For questions on Grocery Industry Issues, please contact Gary Huddleston

 New Endorsed Provider for Insurance and Risk Management Services


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