Texas Retailers Association

April 2021

In This Issue...

  1. Letter from the President Office Move, Texas Legislative Activity Updates, Forum in October
  2. Issue Update  Wage & Labor, COVID Liability, TRA Bill Tracking List
  3. TRA Office Move Moving DateNew address and W-9
  4. Welcome Gensa Group! 
  5. TRA Forum Moving to October
  6. TRAPAC -  Donate to the retailers PAC
  7. Grocery Industry Update -  WIC/SNAP, WIC Vendor WebinarCertified Food Managers Survey 
  8. Marsh Wortham - New Employee Benefits Portal/ Healthcare access
  9. Southwest Financial - Free Employer Benefit
  10. Lifelock - TRA's Identity Theft Protection Discount Program
  11. Amerex - Business Energy Program Savings Program

Letter From the President

Greetings Texas Retailers:

I hope you are all enjoying the very nice and increasingly warming spring weather; and seeing increased customer traffic as a result. It’s been a busy and productive past month across Texas, as COVID vaccination numbers continue to rise and restrictions continue to loosen, while Texas COVID cases and hospitalizations continue to trend downward. Additionally, when the temperatures warm up in odd numbered years, that also means that activity is cranking up to a fever pitch at the Texas Legislature. One other bit of major news is that the TRA office will be moving on April 24th. After five years at the Cielo Center in Westlake, we will be moving to the Summit Center Building along US 183 North, which is quickly becoming a new corridor for state association offices. We look forward to settling into our new office in late April. More details and highlights from a very busy past few weeks, as well as what’s on the horizon, in this month’s edition of the TRA newsletter.

Over the past month eligibility for COVID-19 vaccines has opened to all Texans 18 years of age and older. As a result, shots are increasing in numbers by the day, as positive COVID cases and related hospitalizations continue to trend downward. We can now start to see the light at the end of the tunnel regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are hopeful that “normal life,” or as close as we can get to the life we knew in early 2020, will be back by mid to late summer. TRA is 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 our collective efforts have been effective throughout the pandemic and we are committed to continuing to be your trusted voice.

The 87th Texas Legislature has now shifted into high gear, as we race towards the first of several key deadlines for bills, on May 10th. Once we get past May 10th, the deadlines for bills to move will come in rather rapid succession over the final 18ndays of the session. With each passing deadline, it will become clear which bills will move towards possible passage and which will not. As was reported last month, favorable legislation has been filed on TRA’s priority issues and these bills are now making their way through the process. Specifically, two of our top priorities are making very good progress. SB 6, which would establish COVID related liability protections for business that operated throughout the pandemic, has now been passed by the Senate and is in the House. Additionally, SB 14, which would establish statewide preemption related to wage and labor issues was passed by the Senate just this week and is now also in the House. Check out the state issues update section of the newsletter for a link to our bill tracking list which shows the progress on all of the key legislation TRA is tracking.

Lastly, in an effort to ensure that all of our members have the opportunity to join us in person at the 2021 Texas Retailers Forum, we have made the decision to move this year’s event to October 26th, backing it up from the originally scheduled late July date. We look forward to seeing everyone at the TRA Forum on October 26th, so be on the lookout for registration and hotel information in the coming weeks.

As always, thank you for your continued support of TRA, and please don’t hesitate to contact me or any member of the TRA staff team at any time.

Continue to stay healthy and safe.

George Kelemen

TRA President/CEO

Issue Update

TRA backed Wage & Labor Preemption bill, and COVID Liability Shield bills Pass TX Senate; Now in House

This session TRA has continued to work to pass statewide legislation that would preempt local governments from unilaterally enacting a patchwork of local employment and labor ordinances mandating employer benefits and employer practices. This year that bill has taken the form of Senate Bill 14 (SB 14), and it is one of our top priorities for this year’s Texas Legislative session. We are pleased to report that SB 14 passed out of the Senate just this week and is now in the House. We will be working very hard over the next few weeks to push SB14 through the House.

Another of our top priority bills, Senate Bill 6 (SB 6), which is the COVID Liability protection bill, has also passed the Senate and is now in the House as well. Since SB 6 is an emergency legislation item, as declared by Governor Abbott, it is moving quickly. In fact, it has its first House Committee hearing already this week.

TRA Bill Tracking List - 87th Legislature

TRA has a developing list of active bills, and as these bills move forward and change throughout the legislative process some bills will be added and some will become irrelevant. As our priority bills become more clear, we will add an additional track to consolidate those into one place. Feel free to ask any questions. Click here to view our Updated BILL TRACKING LIST.


Members, after five years at the Cielo Center Office Building in Westlake = The Texas Retailers Association office will be moving to North Austin. Please be sure to share the following with your HR/Accounts Receivable Department so that we can ensure a smooth transition.

As of April 24th, 2021 - Texas Retailers Association's new address is the following: 

Texas Retailers Association
13706 Research Blvd, Ste 314
Austin, TX 78750

Click here for a PDF letter and an Updated W-9 to submit to your Accounts Receivable or HR department.


Welcome GENSA GROUP, TRA's newest affiliate member

Who is Gensa group?

We are a multinational organization that provides Cloud Analytical Solutions and Consulting Services to organizations that demand data-driven results.  Following a strong implementation methodology, we help your organization redefine data strategies by combining the right tools and services.  Our value proposition is to leverage and unite the power of the cloud, with a steady data stewardship, resulting in a better decision making process. 

Business intelligence and advanced analytics are critical business drivers, but many customers—especially in the retail sector—have had to dramatically cut costs to keep their businesses alive during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gensa is supporting its hardest hit customers by storing and analyzing their data at no cost for the rest of this year to ensure they have the data they need to support their recovery.

For example, customers like PACER—an apparel company that operates in 4 different countries with 37 stores and more than 400 B2B customers—have had to close their physical locations. To support the local pandemic response, they had to pivot their business to help distribute uniforms for first responders and masks for the general public. As their Cloud Services Provider, Gensa is currently hosting their data free of charge so they can still monitor their operations. 

If you're looking for an analytics tool and services to harness data and boost business, contact Gensa Group and achieve success! 

Follow Gensa Group on Facebook, Linked In, Instagram, and YouTube

Texas Retailers Forum Event Moves to October

In an effort to ensure that all of our members have the opportunity to join us in person at the 2021 Texas Retailers Forum, we have made the decision to move this year’s event to October 26th, backing it up from the originally scheduled late July date. We look forward to seeing everyone at the TRA Forum on Tuesday, October 26, 2021. 

We will be updating all information on the website and send out emails with the changes in the upcoming weeks.

Thank you for your feedback and support! 


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

 Grocery Industry Update


The SNAP program has certainly had activity with the continuation of additional benefits:  raising the benefits to the maximum for family size, plus an additional 15% mandated by the recent COVID relief package.  In addition, in Texas, the Food & Nutrition Services approved emergency SNAP benefits due to the winter snow storm.  SNAP participants in affected counties will receive compensation on their Lone Star Cards for product ruined due to power outages.  These amounts will be automatically added to Lone Star Cards mid April.  Lastly FNS approved the Texas plan for pandemic EBT (P-EBT).  This program compensates families who have school age children on free or reduced lunch and are doing remote learning.  The Texas agency working along with Texas School Districts have identified the families who will receive the additional benefits.  These benefits will be loaded on Lone Star Card at the end of May.  The total could approach $1 billion.

In March, 2021, the total number of individuals on SNAP in Texas was over 3.4 million and the dollars loaded on cards totaled over $457 million.  This is a 20% increase over same month 2020.

SNAP on line purchases are growing: estimated about 2% of the total SNAP purchases.

WIC on the other hand, has decreased somewhat.  Last month total WIC participants:  675,973  a 0.8% drop from same month last year.  Texas WIC has reinstated the audits which were temporarily suspended due to the pandemic.  However the flexibility with substituting WIC products due to out of stocks has continued.

During a recent Food Council virtual call, an issue with the requirement of some cities regarding a Certified Food Manager was raised.   The group developed a short survey to determine the extent of the issue and develop a plan to make changes if necessary.  Please have a representative from you Company complete the survey.  

Articles of Interest:  

New Acosta Report Looks At Pandemic Effects on Consumer Groups

Biden Administration on COVID-19 Workplace Safety Rules

COVID-19 Working Paper: SNAP and Pandemic EBT Redemptions during COVID-19 Pandemic

WIC Vendor Community Updates 

Quarterly WIC Webinar
Date: 5/12/2021
Time: 2:00pm - 3:30pm

Agenda Topics:
Cost Containment Tips
Vendor Trainings
EBT Claims
Contract Renewals
Policy Updates

Attendance is encouraged. If you are unable to attend, please have a designee attend for you.

To Access the Webinar:
Step #1 for visual: Log into the Adobe Connect Meeting Room Login Link. No pre-registration needed.
Step #2 for audio: Call the toll-free CenturyLink conference number
1-877-820-7831 and enter passcode 902437. Please mute your phone.

Recommendation for first time attendees: If you have never attended an Adobe Connect webinar, before the meeting begins, check your computer’s ability to view the webinar.

Presentation Materials: Download slides from the webinar’s Downloads box during the presentation or email a request for materials to [email protected]

Texas WIC is ready to assist our vendor partners. Should you have any questions regarding this Vendor News Flash, please contact our Vendor Outreach Branch at [email protected] or 1-800-252-9629.

For questions on Grocery Industry Issues, please contact Gary Huddleston

Temporary Increase : WIC Cash Value Benefits

As part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, WIC participants will receive an increase of cash value benefits (CVB). This means participants will be able to purchase more fruits and vegetables at authorized Texas WIC vendors.

Here is what the temporary CVB increase includes:
• Up to $35 monthly for fruits and vegetables, depending on food package
• Effective June 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021

All WIC policies relating to approved fruits and vegetables still apply and have not changed.

Texas WIC is ready to assist our vendor partners. For questions regarding this Vendor News Flash, please contact the Vendor Management Unit’s Vendor Outreach Branch at [email protected] or
1-800-252-9629. Find more WIC vendor resources on our website at bit.ly/TexasWICVendors

For questions on Grocery Industry Issues, please contact Gary Huddleston

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.

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]

Free Employer Benefit

We all know that less stressed employees are more engaged and more productive.  Most employees don’t leave their financial worries at home, making it a challenge to be focused and engaged at work.  Employees that are more engaged at work make less errors, resulting in increased productivity.

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.

Give your employees access to a free financial wellness benefit by contacting Venoka Daniels today at [email protected] or 214.580.9930.  We are happy to connect with you via zoom, email, or over the phone.  


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]


Contact Information | 13706 Research Blvd, Ste 314, Austin TX 78750 | (512) 472-8261