Texas Retailers Association - September 2021 Newsletter

This Month's Organization Update


Greetings Texas Retailers:

With Fall traditionally being a season for change, so it is with TRA. As you may know, TRA’s Board Chair, Theresa Flores, recently announced that I have accepted a new job and will be leaving TRA in late September. More details below, but I wanted to start my final TRA newsletter message by simply saying Thank You to the TRA community for the past (nearly) six years. With that, welcome to the fall of 2021. School is now back in session and the season has changed, but the Texas Legislature continues to be called back for Special Sessions. In early July there was the first called Special Session of the Texas Legislature, then in early August there was the second called Special Session, and now on September 20th, the third called Special Session will begin. Rest assured that the TRA is actively monitoring the workings of the Texas Legislature during these Special Sessions. Additionally, we are finalizing preparations for our Texas Retailers Forum -- which is back and in person on Tuesday, October 26th at the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort. More details and highlights in this month’s edition of the TRA newsletter.

As reported in the August TRA newsletter, the first special session ended on August 6th and Governor Abbott called for the second special session to begin on August 7th. The second special session lasted until September 2nd when, having completed all of the business on the agenda, it was gaveled to a close. One unfortunate outcome during the second special session was that even though the Governor included statewide preemption of wage and labor ordinances (SB 14) on the agenda, the bill was killed by a point of order on the House floor as it was once again at the last step before being finally passed.

Within days of the 2nd Special Session ending, the Governor issued the call for the 3rd Special Session to begin on September 20th. The main focus of the 3rd Special Session is expected to be on the once every 10 years process of redrawing state and Congressional legislative district boundaries, also known as redistricting. As always, TRA plans to actively monitor the proceedings of the 3rd Special Session, as well as continue to schedule weekly Tax & Lege Committee calls (Thursdays at 2pm CT) throughout the Special Session. Check out the state issues update section of the newsletter for details regarding the Special Session of the Texas Legislature.

We are now about a month and a half away from the return of the Texas Retailers Forum, which will take place on Tuesday, October 26th, at the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort, just east of Austin. Registration and hotel booking are OPEN and filling up quickly, so book your room and register now. This year’s Forum will be a great one as we get back together in person, and it will feature great industry speakers and presenters, as well as other experts who will cover a variety of timely issues for Texas retailers. We look forward to seeing everyone at the TRA Forum in October, so be sure to register and book your hotel room TODAY!

Lastly, as I prepare to leave TRA and I think about these past six years, I leave with a great sense of pride knowing that I am leaving TRA much better than I found it. As an association leader, that is the goal and I am pleased that both the organization and my successor will be better for it. Over these nearly six years we have restored relevance, member engagement and financial stability to TRA. I am immensely proud of the work we have accomplished together during this time. TRA can get into any room in Austin or Washington, DC, be trend setters in promoting the work and value of TRA to engage current members as well as new ones, and the organization’s finances have been stabilized to give it the resources to succeed going forward. I especially want to thank our staff team of Diana Cardona, Jim Sheer and Gary Huddleston for their leadership and commitment to TRA’s success. They have been with me, in one way or another, from the start and will be here after I leave to continue serving the TRA membership.

In closing, I thank all of you, the TRA membership, Board, and Texas retailing community, for the opportunity to serve as your industry association’s CEO, represent your industry, and to get to know so many of you. As always, thank you for your continued support of TRA, and please don’t hesitate to contact any member of the TRA staff team at any time.


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.


George Kelemen
Texas Retailers Association


Legislative Update - Special Session Alert

With the conclusion of the 2nd called Special Session of the 87th Texas Legislature only a half breath was taken before Governor Abbott announced the 3rd Special Session was to begin on September 20th, 2021. This Session’s agenda will include both topics that were expected to be addressed this fall combined with some issues that remained unresolved from the previous sessions work. We expect both redistricting and federal funds allocation process to be leading issues that will dominate both time and attention for a majority of the 30 day special session. TRA will remain engaged and keep you up to date on any issues that may arise throughout and want to keep the lines of communication open if you identify any issues impacting your retail operations. Please see more detail on the Governor’s announcement of the next Special Session agenda below.  


Agenda items for the third Special Session will include:

  • Legislation relating to the apportionment of the State of Texas into districts used to elect members of the Texas House of Representatives, the Texas Senate, the State Board of Education, and the United States House of Representatives.
  • Legislation providing appropriations from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), Pub. L. No. 117-2.
  • Legislation identical to Senate Bill 29 as passed by the Texas Senate in the 87th Legislature, Regular Session, disallowing a student from competing in University Interscholastic League athletic competitions designated for the sex opposite to the student's sex at birth.
  • Legislation regarding whether any state or local governmental entities in Texas can mandate that an individual receive a COVID-19 vaccine and, if so, what exemptions should apply to such mandate.
  • Legislation similar to Senate Bill 474 as passed by the 87th Legislature, Regular Session, but that addresses the concerns expressed in the governor's veto statement.
  • View the Governor's proclamation. 

Texas Retailers Forum

TRA’s Retailers Forum is back! It's a great opportunity to provide our members and the Texas retail industry with a showcase event that includes valuable speakers, useful and informational tracks and sessions and quality networking opportunities and recognition for industry excellence. We are also pleased to be supporting the value of retail careers and education through the work off our education foundation, the Texas Retailers Education Foundation. We look forward to hosting retail representatives from across the state, get a good grasp on the issues that affect the industry and provide something valuable to you!


Hyatt Lost Pines Resort & Spa - Room Block deadline 9/24!

Will you be joining us for the In-person Texas Retailers Forum this October? Well book your room now at the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort & Spa, we look forward to seeing you there!


TRAPAC is in need of your support!

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. TRAPAC Support goes to: Reducing and ELIMINATING TAX BURDENS like inventory tax on property Fighting the one size fits all WAGE & LABOR ORDINANCES Fighting PAID SICK LEAVE and PREDICTIVE SCHEDULING PUSHING BACK AGAINST other anti-business regulatory burdens.  Without your support, TRA will not be making the necessary contributions this upcoming elections. Please consider making a PAC contribution via personal money or PAC to PAC.


Grocery Industry Update

SNAP payments continue to be news for grocery retailers.  The P-EBT distribution is now at $3.95 billion.  SNAP customers have spent about 85% of the distributions leaving about $600 million on Lone Star Cards to be used over the next month.  The plan for summer P-EBT has been approved by the Federal agency.  These funds are designed to compensate families who have school age children on free or reduced lunch for the summer break.  The Summer P-EBT funds will be loaded on cards beginning late October and ending mid November. The amount will be close to $1 billion.


The State SNAP agency continues to apply for the maximum benefit for family size and the approval for September was granted.  This is amounts to about a 15% increase.  The agency does see a trend of reduced applications for SNAP due to more individuals going back into full employment.



The WIC program remains fairly steady with a slight decline from last year of 0.5%.  Fortunately the WIC agency recognizes our industry’s supply chain challenges and has extended the temporary substitution of products.  Also the WIC agency has added some additional products to the approved list. (attached)  The WIC program continues the additional funds for fruits & vegetables called the cash value voucher (CVV).  The WIC customer receives $35/month on their WIC card to purchase the approved fruit and vegetable products including fresh produce.  Grocers must provide the UPC list to the agency.  More WIC customers are using the MY WIC app to help them shop for the approved foods.  The app is available for Apple and Android phones.


NGA Applauds Hours of Service Waiver Extension For Grocery Truckers

By NGA (National Grocers Association)


The National Grocers Association applauded the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s extension of its Hours of Service emergency declaration, which was set to expire Aug. 31, but is now extended through Nov. 30.

FMSCA has provided hours-of-service flexibility for commercial drivers transporting certain categories of eligible items critical to the supply chain since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The agency announced the extension to the waiver based on input from independent grocers.


“Independent grocers, whether retail or wholesale, have been working around the clock for over a year to keep shelves stocked and their communities fed,” said Robert Yeakel, NGA director of government relations. “Like many other industries operating during this pandemic, our supply chain has suffered shocks that will continue to reverberate. We’re grateful to FMCSA for not only listening but responding to the issues our wholesalers are facing.”


Last week, NGA met with agency representatives to advocate for a continuation of the Hours of Service waiver. Data provided by member wholesalers illustrated the continued supply chain pressures and difficult market conditions that have persisted since the beginning of the pandemic.


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Media Payments Group

Media Payments Group provides safe, secure, and dependable payment processing, as well as cost-effective point of sale (POS) solutions that help you run and manage your everyday business functions efficiently. The increased popularity of the virtual world has caused a greater need for credit card payment processing services and point of sale solutions . But when it comes to choosing the right provider, here’s what sets us apart from the rest:

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Max Linden | VP of Business Development

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Exclusive Benefits for TRA Members

The Texas Retailers Association (TRA) has been working to help solve a problem affecting our members and every business in the US—access 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.

Member Benefits Center Info | Recruiter Benefit Info

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]



Elevate your employees' financial well-being

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has tested everyone’s resilience and capacity to adapt in the workplace.  2020 was a year filled with unpredictable challenges spanning from furloughs to virtual hiring.  None of this has been easy on leaders and managers who must inspire as well as operationalize these changes, all while individualizing to each of their team members.


Employee engagement has long been recognized as an important driver of employee retention and performance.  However, engaged employees can still experience burnout, especially if they are struggling with their finances.  


Research shows that 44% of engaged and thriving employees experience stress, compared to 63% who are engaged but not thriving, and 70% who are not engaged and not thriving*.  Southwest Financial is here to help elevate your employees’ financial

well-being.  We provide our members with financial education tools they need to succeed.  These tools help create sensible budgets through educational videos and real-life articles.  In addition, we offer guided credit counseling services at no cost to our members.    


This is a free benefit! Learn more about this free benefit here.

Contact Venoka Daniels at [email protected] or 214.580.9930 to begin your financial partnership.

*Gallup, Workplace June 15, 2021, “7 Things We Learned About U.S. and Canadian Employees in 2020”.


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Amerex - Your Energy Solutions partner!

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!


Contact: Phyllis Anzalone

(281) 340-5273 (o)

(713) 705-0006 (c)


Contact Info:

Texas Retailers Association

13706 Research Blvd


[email protected]