E-Newsletter

Texas Retailers Association

June 2020

In This Issue...

  1. Letter from the President
  2. Advocacy Update - SCTX Decision Not to Hear Austin PSL Ordinance Case; PPP Fix Bill
  3. Free Resources - Coronavirus Risk Mitigation from Marsh Wortham, Southwest Financial, Lifelock, Amerex
  4. Grocery Industry Update -  WIC/SNAP & Produce Trends

Letter From the President

Hello Texas Retailers:

Now that we are about to reach the official start of summer, on this Saturday, June 21st, the COVID-19 virus continues to impact our industry and daily lives. However, we are now a month and a half into the re-opening of the Texas economy, as we recently entered Phase 3 of re-opening, which allows all Texas retailers to operate at a minimum of 50% occupancy. Indications are that continued adjustments will be made on a rolling basis over the coming weeks. The TRA team will continue 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 – www.txretailers.org and suggest you check it often for important updates, details, and resources. We believe that our collective efforts have been effective throughout the pandemic and we are committed to continuing to be your trusted voice.

TRA is continuing to be in close communication with our members, so that we can be aware of your respective needs as you continue to manage through this time, as well as re-open or expand your operations. In addition to keeping the TRA website continuously updated and routinely sending informative e-blasts and disseminating key information via social media, we are also hosting our Tax & Legislative Committee calls weekly (they are typically monthly calls). In fact, we have been periodically hosting Zoom meeting versions of the Tax & Legislative Committee call and have invited state legislators to join us for those, so they can update and interact with TRA members. Additionally, we continue to also remain actively engaged with our national retail and food industry trade association partners regarding all that is happening related to COVID-19 on an industry-wide basis, as well as at the federal level.

Although much of our work over the past three months centered on our industry’s response to COVID-19, the broader advocacy work of TRA continued. This month we are pleased to highlight two recent advocacy wins for TRA and our members, one at the state level and one at the federal level. The wins on the Austin Paid Sick Leave (PSL) ruling, as well as our successful push for passage of the Paycheck Protection Flexibility Act, are detailed in the legislative update section of the newsletter.

Rest assured that TRA is as committed as ever to continuing to effectively represent Texas retailers. As always, thank you for supporting TRA.

George Kelemen
TRA President/CEO


 

 Advocacy Update

TRA Statement on Texas Supreme Court Decision Not to Hear Austin Paid Sick Leave Ordinance Case

On Friday, June 5th, the Texas Supreme Court issued its decision not to hear the city of Austin’s paid sick leave case (PSL), meaning the Austin ordinance is unconstitutional and voided. The city’s ordinance was struck down as unconstitutional by Texas’ Third Court of Appeals in 2019. Therefore, because the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, the Third Court’s ruling stands. 

Texas retailers are pleased the Texas Supreme Court has confirmed the Third Court of Appeals’ ruling on the Austin PSL ordinance. We continue to believe that one size fits all local employment ordinances are unconstitutional, as ruled by the Third Court of Appeals. These mandated employment ordinances are burdensome and hurt job growth. Most retailers in Texas provide quality wage and benefit packages including paid time off.

Texas courts have been clear in stating that cities in Texas do not have the power to mandate paid sick leave. Texas retailers call on other cities in Texas with PSL ordinances to withdraw these unconstitutional ordinances. Lastly, although Friday’s decision was welcome news for Texas retailers in Austin, it’s clear PSL, as well as other anti-business issues will need to be taken up during the next session of the Texas Legislature, so that retailers can have certainty statewide.

FEDERAL ISSUES 

TRA Works with Congressman Roy to Successfully Push for Passage of PPP Fix bill

Earlier this month TRA successfully worked with Texas Congressman Chip Roy to push support for his bill, The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020.  The bill was passed by Congress early in June and was signed into law by President Trump on June 5th. TRA was pleased to support the bill and rally support for it from our industry. As a result of it now being law, it provides for much greater flexibility for PPP recipients, which includes retailers. It amends the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to give borrowers more freedom in how and when loan funds are spent while retaining the possibility of full forgiveness. Borrowers will now have 24 weeks to spend loan proceeds, up from 8 weeks. The Act also reduces mandatory payroll spending from 75% to 60%, and also includes two new exceptions to let borrowers obtain full forgiveness even without fully restoring their workforce. Lastly, time to pay off the loan has been extended to five years from the original two, and now all businesses can delay paying payroll taxes, even if they took a PPP loan.


 TRAPAC



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

 


Free Resources from Marsh Wortham

 

Marsh has excellent resources to assist clients with response and risk mitigation surrounding these and other Pandemic outbreaks.  Marsh is providing TRA members some free resources below: 


If you want to follow up with Marsh Wortham regarding their resources, please contact David Hebert using the contact information below. The Marsh Wortham Pandemic Risk team is the best in the business!

Texas Retailers Association is still exploring opportunities to source best-in-class benefits for members, including medical, vision, dental, life insurance, and more. But WE NEED YOUR HELP

Please click here to take this five-minute survey.
If you are not the right person to fill this out, please pass the message on to human resources or operations manager to assist us with gauging interest in the program.

More Information about Marsh Wortham: 

Marsh Wortham is a division of Marsh USA Inc. the largest insurance broker in the U.S., and provides insurance placement and employee benefits, and risk management consulting services. 

  • We are comprised of offices across Texas, and in Oklahoma and Louisiana. Our parent company is Marsh & McLennan Companies (NYSE: MMC), the leading global professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy, and people. 
  • Marsh places more than $1 billion in premiums every year for our retail clients which comprise more than half of the top 100 retail companies in the U.S. and all of the top 10.

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]


Swapping Your Expenditures During the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many of us into financial situations that we could never have predicted.  In some cases, the quarantine orders have given us an opportunity to shift how we are spending money while staying at home. 

Here are some great swapping tips to consider during the pandemic:

Make a Budget

Having a budget is always a great idea, especially when you are hit by an unexpected financial or life change, such as a pandemic.  Figure out as close as possible what your income is, and if there are any unnecessary costs that you can cut or freeze during this time. 

Learn to DIY

With extra time on your hands you may be able to take over costs for services that you didn’t otherwise have time to do.  Cooking at home will save money rather than spending on eating out or delivery fees.  Simple home maintenance, gardening, and pet grooming are some other ways to save money.  Who knows, you may learn a new skill or find a new hobby! 

A Smart Way to Save

Now that you have cut costs, you need to decide where to put the money you have saved: 

  • Traditional savings account
  • An emergency savings account
  • More stable investments
  • Paying off debt

At Southwest Financial, we provide our members with financial education tools they need to succeed.  Credit union affiliation is a free way to improve your benefits package, improve employee engagement and provide added value to your employees.  Contact Venoka Daniels today at [email protected] or 214.580.9930 to give your employees access to a financial wellness benefit.   


 


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 


 Grocery Industry Update

 

Increased SNAP benefits have been a large help to families impacted because of a layoff or loss of a job due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  In addition, grocery retailers have experienced increased sales.  The Texas Health & Human Services Agency has done a great job of communication.

The Director held daily calls with grocery retailers and other stakeholders to share the statistics, obtain feedback and answer questions. As a result of Federal COVID legislation, the SNAP family had their monthly benefits increased to the maximum for their family size.  Also, for families with school age children on free or reduced lunch, their SNAP benefit was increased. 

The total for both these program resulted in over $1 billion in benefits on Lone Star Cards. 

In May, the Lone Star participants numbered 3.9 million:  an increase of 14% over prior year

The Lone Star funds distribution was $455,481,000:  an increase of 17% over prior year

In addition, over 800,000 children have benefited from P-EBT.  This is the program to feed school age children who would have received a free or reduced lunch.

The State of Texas has made application to USDA: Food & Nutrition Services for a waiver to increase the SNAP benefit to the maximum for family size for July benefits.  Thus July Lone Star benefits could be greater.  Check the TRA website for a future update.

One more point, the technology has worked flawlessly even with the large increase in number new Lone Star Cards and transactions.

Several Texas retailers are using technology to accept online transactions with payment by the Lone Star Card for store pick up and/or delivery.

WIC has also seen a slight increase over last year of 2%.  The COVID-19 substitution list for WIC products has been extended thru June.

Click here for an interesting article from Acosta noting some statistics about grocery shopping in the COVID season.

Click here for a link to Shelby report and stats regarding the increase of online shopping.

For questions on Grocery Industry Issues, please contact Gary Huddleston


Fisher Phillips has assembled a cross-disciplinary taskforce of attorneys across the country to address the many employment-related issues facing employers in the wake of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The COVID-19 Taskforce has created a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document, which has been continually updated since first published on March 3 and will continue to be updated as events warrant. You can contact your Fisher Phillips attorney or any member of the Taskforce with specific questions, and a full listing of the Taskforce members and their practice areas is at the end of this publication.

The CDC has released relaxed guidelines for critical infrastructure workers, as previously defined by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, who have been potentially exposed to COVID-19. Under the relaxed guidelines, critical infrastructure workers potentially exposed to COVID-19 may continue to work following exposure provided they remain symptom-free and employers implement additional precautions to protect the employee and the community.

For more information and legal resources please visit Fisher Phillips - Coronavirus Resource Page.


 


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