Texas Retailers Association

January 2021

In This Issue...

  1. Letter from the President 
  2. Legislative Priorities 
  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 

Letter From the President

Happy New Year Texas Retailers!

I hope you and your families had a safe and healthy holiday season.  Additionally, I hope your stores enjoyed strong holiday sales, even as the COVID-19 pandemic continued to spike significantly once again. We have heard anecdotally that the numbers for the 2020 holiday shopping season were good, and overall, on par with 2019’s record-breaking season. It’s a new year now and there are many new things happening this month. Chief among them is that the COVID-19 vaccine is now being administered across the state, and in increasing numbers. A big thank you goes out to several of TRA’s member companies who are administering the vaccines in their stores, as well as supporting larger mass vaccination sites around the state. We are certainly hopeful that the COVID vaccines continue to be administered on an increasingly faster pace, so that we can truly start to see the light at the end of the tunnel in the coming months.

Other important new happenings in 2021 are on the political front. At the state level, the 87th Texas Legislature gaveled into session this week, with several new members of the Texas House and Senate, as well as a new Texas House Speaker, Dade Phelan of Beaumont. At the federal level, the 117th Congress was sworn in on Sunday, January 3rd and the first full week in January saw both significant highs, and incredible and horrible lows at the U.S. Capitol. 

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. However, COVID hospitalization numbers have recently spiked in several locations around the state, so per the Governor’s executive orders some of these locations are considering or have instituted more stringent COVID related local regulations, pending a reduction in their respective COVID numbers. 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.

The 87th Texas Legislature gaveled in on Tuesday, January 12th and formally elected State Representative Dade Phelan as House Speaker. 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 ready and working with 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. This week, TRA issued our legislative priorities for the 87th session. They are posted on our website and were sent to the full membership of the Legislature in the form of a letter as the session convened this week. 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, and working against any other burdensome legislation.

As the session gets underway, we’ll look forward to seeing many of you (virtually) 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.

At the federal level, the new 117th Congress is now in session, and President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be sworn in at noon on January 20th. However, before the previous Congress adjourned at the end of last year, they held a lame duck session and passed a federal government funding bill through the remainder of the fiscal year (until Sept. 30), as well as a COVID stimulus bill which included $600 direct payments to Americans, an additional wave of PPP funds for businesses impacted by the pandemic, and funding for COVID vaccine distribution, among other items. Unfortunately, liability protection for retail workers was not included in the December COVID relief bill, so TRA remains very engaged with our national retail association partners, as well as our new Congressional delegation to ensure that retail industry priorities are included in the next COVID relief bill. President-elect Biden has stated that another COVID relief bill is among his top priorities as soon as he takes office in late January. That said, we are also working on these issues at the state level, during the Texas legislative session assuming some of these issues aren’t addressed at the federal level, such as liability protection. The new Congress is now in place with a slimmer Democratic majority in the House and a new equally divided (50/50) make-up in the Senate, with the Democrats taking the majority on the afternoon of January 20th, when Vice-President elect Kamala Harris is sworn in and becomes the presiding officer of the U.S. Senate. With the Senate equally divided, Vice President-elect Harris will be the tie-breaking vote, effectively giving the Democrats the majority and as such making Sen. Chuck Schumer the new Majority Leader as of that moment. TRA will work diligently in lobbying the Texas Congressional delegation, the Congressional Leadership, and the new Biden Administration on our federal priorities during the 117th Congress.

On Wednesday, January 6th, the new Congress was in session, performing its constitutionally mandated task of certifying the Electoral College vote count of the 2020 Presidential election. This is something which is typically a very routine exercise and lasts about an hour on January 6th of every fourth year. As we all witnessed, this January 6th was all but typical, and it turned out to be an incredibly horrific and sad day in American history. In response to the attack on the U.S. Capitol building last Wednesday, TRA and our national partner retail associations issued statements condemning what happened. Here is TRA’s statement:

The Texas Retailers Association (TRA) rebukes the attack on the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, DC this afternoon. This type of violence and destruction is unacceptable, regardless of the motivations. TRA members value the First Amendment right we have as Americans to petition our government, and we have enjoyed those opportunities to represent our association and industry in both Washington, DC and here in Austin. Unfortunately, today’s actions by a mob which crossed the line from their right to peaceably assemble to outright threats to public safety and destruction of property, will likely impact how lawfully abiding Americans engage with their government going forward. TRA stands with our national partner organizations in their respective statements regarding today’s events. Tonight, our thoughts and prayers are with members of Congress and their staffs, along with law enforcement protecting the Capitol, for their on-going safety and well-being.

2020 was certainly one of the most challenging years that any of us can likely recall, and 2021 has unfortunately started off with increased tension, stress, and challenges. Our hope is that over the coming weeks and months, we will collectively start to turn the corner on the hardships of the past 10 months.

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.

Thank you.

George Kelemen

TRA President/CEO

Legislative Priorities

The Texas Retailers Association (TRA) supports a business-friendly regulatory environment.TRA member companies are regulated, licensed, inspected, and taxed by agencies in Texas and appreciate the Legislature’s efforts to continue to make Texas retail friendly. TRA supports regulation that is reasonable and allows our members to continue to provide excellent customer service, top quality products and continued business success in the retail industry. Our members take various approaches to provide these services, and TRA supports their efforts to make those choices independently without unnecessary regulatory burdens imposed by either the state or local governments.

Additionally, TRA’s members are playing a key role to help our state and local communities deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, and we continue to provide those essential services today. We are keeping our customers and employees healthy and safe, and have been leaders in implementing protocols, procedures, and technology to ensure safe shopping environments. TRA supports the state’s actions during the pandemic and appreciates the broad impact and guidance given by our elected officials during this time.

  • TRA will support measures to provide workable solutions to the retail community across Texas to enable our members to keep our customers and employees safe and healthy while continuing to provide our community with essential needs and services throughout the pandemic and into the future.
  • TRA supports liability protections for retailers against meritless legal claims due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This protection will allow retailers to continue to serve their communities and devote resources to those efforts rather than baseless lawsuits. These protections should also keep intact reasonable recourse for those truly harmed by bad actors.
  • TRA supports passing statewide legislation that would preempt local governments from unilaterally enacting negative local employment and labor laws mandating employer benefits, employer hiring practices, scheduling, and other daily operational business practices.
  • TRA supports inventory property tax relief. Retailers across Texas are subject to increasingly higher property taxes, not only on their retail space but also on the inventories on their shelves. Texas business property taxes continue to serve as a significant disadvantage to the retail industry in our state. Inventory property tax relief is not selective; it benefits large and small businesses equally and attracts greater investment in the Texas economy.
  • TRA supports efforts to address the significant growth of Organized Retail Crime (ORC). Retailers are seeing more cases and higher losses as organized crime continues to target them. Retailers and online marketplaces are making significant investments to prevent these crimes.  As such, TRA supports legislative efforts to help protect consumers from unknowingly purchasing stolen merchandise originating from ORC activity, aid law enforcement in tracking those engaged in ORC, and to make it more difficult for bad actors to sell illicit goods.

    Click here for a printable Legislative Priorities Document



Advocacy Update

Federal Update: Congress Passes Bipartisan COVID Relief

On December 21, the 116th Congress passed the bipartisan Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act of 2020, as its final action. Retailers welcomed the passage of this important economic relief package that will help keep businesses open and the economy moving in the right direction as we continue to deal with the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new stimulus and extension of relief passed earlier in 2020 will help families, health care providers and businesses. Retailers have invested billions of dollars during the pandemic to maintain healthy and safe shopping environments for customers, as well as workplaces for employees. As we move into the beginning of the Biden administration, TRA will continue to work with our national retail association partners to lobby for additional COVID relief federal legislation to help businesses impacted by the COVID pandemic.


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.

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]


Employee engagement has long been recognized as an important driver of employee retention and performance.  Research shows that productivity among highly engaged teams is 14% higher than that of teams with the lowest engagement -- and that employees who are not engaged cost their company the equivalent of 18% of their annual salary*.

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 is here to assist your employees with their financial stress.  Imagine how much more productive your employees would be.  Increased production equals increased revenue.

Contact Venoka Daniels today at [email protected] or 214.580.9930 and start giving your employees access to a free financial partnership. 

*Gallup news - Workplace, Increase Productivity at the Lowest Possible Cost, October 15, 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]


 Grocery Industry Update


Congress passes and the President signed the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act.  The act included an increase to the SNAP benefit.  Beginning in January and continuing into June, the SNAP benefit everyone receives will be increase by 15%.  This is in addition to the action taken last year to increase the SNAP benefit to the maximum for the family size.  The January distribution in Texas began Jan. 19-Jan 22.  The February distribution will be back to the normal schedule based upon County.  The additional SNAP benefit will result in approximately $6.5 million loaded onto Lone Star Cards each month.

The monthly distribution of SNAP decreased slightly by .2% last month but is still much larger than last year averaging over $431 million.

The WIC benefits have remained steady with about 670,000 participants with a very slight decline last month.  The WIC agency has added Sesame Street Cereal to the program.  Also, the Civil Monetary Penalty to avoid a decision to terminate WIC has been increased. 

Click here to link to an interesting article regarding customers preferring a contactless payment transaction.  Also included some statistics about customer shopping both in store and on-line.

There is no doubt COVID has changed all our lives in one way or another.  Click here to read an article that points out how some of these changes will provide opportunity for future business growth

For questions on Grocery Industry Issues, please contact Gary Huddleston


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