Texas Retailers Association

March 2021

In This Issue...

  1. Letter from the President In the Aftermath of the Winter Storm, Texas Legislative Activity Updates
  2. Issue Update  Lobby Day Recap, TRA Bill Tracking List, What happened during Winter Storm Uri, Win In San Antonio PSL Case
  3. TRAPAC -  Donate to the retailers PAC
  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

Greetings Texas Retailers:

I hope you, your families, and your businesses have recovered from the unprecedented winter storm which impacted all of Texas last month. What a difference a few weeks makes, as we are all now enjoying seasonal Spring weather across the state. In the aftermath of the winter storm, your team here at TRA has been lobbying for prioritization of critical retail distribution infrastructure to help keep critical and perishable products from being impacted by power outages like this again. This is just one of the many issues TRA is actively working on for the retail industry in Texas. More details and highlights from a very busy past few weeks are in the month’s edition of the TRA newsletter.

There are now three COVID-19 vaccines being administered across Texas, and shots are increasing in numbers by the day. A continued big thank you goes out to 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 optimistic that the COVID vaccines will continue to be administered at an increasingly faster pace, so that we can truly start to see the light at the end of the tunnel in the coming months. The good news is that as the number of vaccinations go up, the number of COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths go down at an increasing pace as well. Earlier this month, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced that as of March 10th, the state would be 100% open and businesses would no longer have occupancy limits. Additionally, the statewide mask/ face covering mandate was also ended by the Governor, effective March 10th. Notwithstanding the Governor’s announcement, federal, state, and many local health authorities continue to encourage people to wear masks and socially distance, especially if they have not yet been vaccinated. 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 the COVID pandemic. 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 our collective efforts have been effective throughout the pandemic and we are committed to continuing to be your trusted voice.

On the advocacy front, the 87th Texas Legislature has now been in session for just over two months, and the pace of the session is definitely picking up. The filing deadline for bills was on March 12th, and we saw a significant flurry of activity on the days leading up to and on March 12th itself. We can report that favorable legislation has been filed on TRA’s priority issues and we look forward to seeing these bills make their way through the process. Check out the state issues update section of the newsletter for a link to our bill tracking list.

Were you able to join us on March 3rd for Texas Retailers Virtual Lobby Day at the State Capitol? If not, be sure to click here to see what you missed, as we made our mark on the 87th session. Our virtual Lobby Day was a great success and included visits with key statewide elected officials, as well as important members of the Legislature. In addition, we maximized TRA’s footprint at the Capitol on March 3rd, through digitally geo-fencing the Capitol complex for that entire day. As a result, TRA’s legislative priorities appeared as messages to everyone who opened multiple platforms throughout the day. A huge thanks to all of the sponsors who made TRA’s virtual Lobby Day such a success.

One additional positive development at the state level came through a favorable state court ruling on March 10th. The 4th Court of Appeals affirmed the Temporary Injunction of San Antonio’s “Safe and Sick Leave” Ordinance (PSL ordinance) issued by State District Court Judge Sakai in November 2019.  This means that we have once again (this time an appeal by the city) denied the City of San Antonio’s attempt at enacting their Paid Sick Leave ordinance. For more details scroll down to Issue Update section of newsletter

At the federal level 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 federal legislation moving this year, with the new Congress and an new Administration. Our top priority on the American Rescue Plan (the President’s COVID relief bill) was to ensure that a $15 an hour minimum wage was NOT included in the final bill, and we were successful in doing so. The President signed the American Rescue Plan on March 11th. We expect the Congress’ and the President’s attention now to turn to an infrastructure bill, which the retail industry will be interested in many aspects of.

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.

Stay healthy and safe everyone.

George Kelemen

TRA President/CEO

Issue Update

Lobby Day Event Recap | March 3, 2021

TRA Bill Tracking List - 87th Legislature

Members, this is 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. There are so many bills dealing with ERCOT and the power issue that they are not included in this report, but will be updated when we identify those that will be moving. Also, as our concern/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 BILL TRACKING LIST.

Amerex: What happened during Winter Storm Uri?

Storm Uri resulted in record breaking cold weather across much of the U.S., heavily impacting Texas. Natural gas pipelines and power wind turbines froze, resulting in major power generation outages across the state even as homes and businesses increased demand for heating to record levels. Pricing of heating fuels, and natural gas surged. Demand for propane was at a 17-year high. Click here to learn what happened, what were the regulatory failures that have come to light and what is coming up on the legislative level in regards to addressing the power shortages.

Big Win in San Antonio Paid Sick Leave Ordinance Case

On March 10th, 2021 -- The 4th Court of Appeals affirmed Temporary Injunction of San Antonio’s “Safe and Sick Leave” Ordinance (PSL ordinance) issued by State District Court Judge Sakai in November 2019.  TRA was represented by Attorney Roland F. Gonzales, who alleged the San Antonio ordinance not only violates The Texas Minimum Wage Act, but violates provisions of the Texas Labor Code, FLMA, and ADA. 

TRA’s position was validated by today’s ruling.  By enjoining substantially, the same ordinance declared unconstitutional by the 3rd Court of Appeals, the Court preserves the status quo for employers pending a trial on the merits or some action by the legislature. 

Employers of all sizes can continue focus on rebounding from the COVOID-19 pandemic and serving their customers, instead of shouldering the burden of an unconstitutional ordinance.  TRA is encouraged by today’s ruling and hopes the City is encouraged to redirect public resources from taxpayer funded litigation. Congratulations to the TRA team (Gary Huddleston and Roland F. Gonzales) who have worked on this issue for a year and a half, and a huge THANKS goes to the TRA member companies who have also helped our efforts fighting against PSL through financial, informational, and resource contributions. 

On the State level, TRA continues 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 is one of our top priorities for this year’s Texas Legislative session, and we hope to be able to report a successful outcome in the coming months.



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]


A Free Employee Financial Wellness Benefit

Attracting and retaining quality, productive employees can sometimes be a challenge.  Having an attractive benefits package is key!  When you partner with Southwest Financial, we will ensure that your employees have everything they need to succeed financially, at no cost to you.  We understand that the financial wellness of your employees impacts your bottom line.

For almost 60 years, we have helped employees of partner companies like yours get their finances back on track by offering affordable loan options, financial education tools, and sensible products and services.  This is a free benefit that’s available to your employees….and we do all the work!  As a result, that’s less turnover and increased revenue for your company.

We are happy to connect with you via zoom, email, or over the phone.  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. Save on your gas, or electricity! Click Here to Learn More

Email: [email protected]


 Grocery Industry Update


SNAP benefits continue to remain ahead of last year by about 10%.  Last month over $412 million loaded onto Lone Star Cards for participants.  The number of participants:  3.6 million.  This is an increase of 300,000 over last year.  In addition to the regular SNAP benefits, the State Agency was able to obtain approval for emergency SNAP to compensate participants who lost food as a result of power outages during the snow storm.  These benefits totaled over $16 million.

The State is working on P-EBT benefits and the plans have not been finalized or approved.

One legislative bill of note is HB 343 by Representative Cain would limit the products available for SNAP participants.  TRA is opposed to this bill and communicating with the bill sponsor and committee members.

WIC benefits continue to lag behind last year by .01%.  Over 676,000 participants last month.

Meat sales remain strong during the pandemic and now as we more towards the summer grill out season customers will be looking for more variety.  Organic and natural beef has become very popular.  Click here for an interesting article about “claims” based meat (Organic and Natural).

Even as Texas opens back up for business, it appears online grocery will continue to be strong.  Click here for an article about the strength of online grocery.

Both the pandemic and recently the snow storm highlighted how importance of the grocery supply chain.  FMI is holding a virtual discussion in April titled:  Supply Chain Resilience for the Future. Please click here for more information.

For questions on Grocery Industry Issues, please contact Gary Huddleston


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