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2021 Southwest Women of Influence

Congratulations to TRA Board Member Christy Lara, Public Relations of Albertson's Companies Southern Division - who was named a Women of Influence in the grocery industry.  See page 34.  Brookshire Grocery and Kroger were also recognized! Check it out!

Senate passes bill to prevent government shutdown

December 2, 2021 - The Senate passed a short-term government funding bill on Thursday night, sending it to President Joe Biden’s desk a day before a Friday deadline to prevent a shutdown.

The president is expected to sign the measure before the end of Friday and prevent a lapse in federal funding. The legislation will keep the government running through Feb. 18.

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Federal Trade Commission launches study on supply chain disruptions

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voted 4-0 on Monday to launch a 6(b) study on supply chain disruptions related to competition, shortages, and consumer prices. The move comes after intense NGA lobbying and testimonies of six NGA members at a recent FTC hearing pushing the Commission to investigate power buyers who use their size as leverage to command preferential terms from suppliers. 

The probe is broader than NGA’s recommendations in terms of company targets and model questions, but the important takeaway is that the commission will be investigating economic discrimination, a key first step in our goal of reviving the Robinson-Patman Act. Importantly, the Commission is seeking voluntary comments regarding how supply chain issues are affecting competition in consumer goods markets. 

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Americans For Free Trade Statement

AFT Statement Following House Ways & Means Subcommittee Hearing on Competitiveness with China

 

WASHINGTON, D.C., (December 3, 2021) -- Today, Americans for Free Trade spokesperson Jonathan Gold released the following statement following the House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Trade’s hearing regarding U.S. competitiveness with China.

“As leaders in both Congress and the Biden administration work to identify the proper ways to address China's trade malpractices, it is imperative that they keep in mind the need to relieve the burden the trade war has placed on American businesses, workers, manufacturers, farmers, and families. It is critical that lawmakers also reinstitute a fair and transparent section 301 exclusion process to help businesses struggling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the shipping crisis, and rising inflation. While removing the tariffs should be the primary goal, reinstituting this process will position the American economy to remain competitive globally as it recovers from these crises.”

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Texas WIC Infant Formula Alternative Can Sizes

Dear WIC Vendors, 

In response to current issues impacting the supply of contract brand infant formulas, the Texas WIC program is temporarily authorizing alternative can sizes and formulations of contract products. 

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Stealing To Sell - The Business of Organized Retail Crime

HOUSTON — Don’t call it shoplifting.

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Appeals court temporarily halts Biden’s vaccine mandate on larger businesses

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency stay of the requirement that workers be vaccinated by Jan. 4 or face mask requirements and weekly tests.

NEW ORLEANS — A federal appeals court on Saturday temporarily halted the Biden administration’s vaccine requirement for businesses with 100 or more workers.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency stay of the requirement by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration that those workers be vaccinated by Jan. 4 or face mask requirements and weekly tests.

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Texas WIC Approves New Breakfast Cereal

Dear WIC Vendors,

The Texas WIC program is pleased to announce five new breakfast cereals for WIC participants when they become available on January 1, 2022 or later. Post Honey Bunches of Oats is converting their 14.5-ounce packages to 12-ounce packages, which makes them WIC eligible in Texas. The new UPCs listed below have been already added to the authorized product list (APL).

ITEM

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FMI Expresses Concerns about OSHA Vaccine-Testing Mandate’s Impact on Food Supply Chain

Arlington, VA – Today, FMI – The Food Industry Association Chief Public Policy Officer and Senior Vice President, Government and Public Affairs Jennifer Hatcher issued the following statement in response to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standards (ETS) for COVID-19 testing/vaccination.  

“At a time when our economy is facing a constrained labor supply, supply chain disruptions and high consumer demand, we are very concerned with the impact on the food supply chain posed by the ETS, particularly for workers in no-contact or low-contact positions. As written, the ETS does not balance key issues like a lack of testing availability 

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87th Third Called Special Session Legislative Report

The House and Senate adjourned the third special session Sine Die early Tuesday morning.  Six out of ten of the Governor’s priority items were passed, including bills which set new districts for the Texas House, Texas Senate, the State Board of Education and Congress.  Legislation related to putting restrictions on COVID-19 vaccine mandates, bail reform, and increasing criminal penalties for illegal voting did not pass.  The Governor’s Executive Orders banning vaccine mandates for local governments and businesses are still in effect.  

The Legislature was able to pass legislation which allocates $16.3 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). $7.2 billion will be used to refill the state’s unemployment compensation fund, $2 billion will go to the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to be used for nurse staffing shortages due to the pandemic and for the purchasing and infusing of therapeutic drugs to treat COVID-19.  The legislature also allocated $500 million for broadband infrastructure and $3.3 billion to improve capital construction projects at our institutes of higher education.  $180 million will also be used for grants for the tourism, travel and hospitality industry that were harmed by the pandemic.  

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Urgent Update WIC Temporary Cash Value Benefits Extended through Dec 31

Dear WIC Vendors,

The increase of cash value benefits (CVB) has been extended for WIC participants through December 31, 2021. This means participants can continue to purchase more fruits and vegetables at authorized Texas WIC vendors.

Texas WIC announced in a September 21 Vendor News Flash that the temporary increase would expire on September 30, 2021. However, in a late-breaking development last week, the federal government extended the temporary CVB as part of the Continuing Resolution that was signed on September 30.

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New Peer Grouping Methodology for Traditional WIC (TWIC) Vendors

Beginning January 2022, the Texas WIC Program will implement the new USDA-approved Peer Grouping Methodology. As discussed in previous Vendor Quarterly Webinars, the new Peer Grouping Methodology will consist of seven unique groups instead of the previous 18. Texas WIC will begin the preparation phase now to allow vendors time to adjust to the new changes over the next few months.

Texas WIC is required to implement Peer Grouping to control costs by grouping vendors based on price regions and sales volume bands.

 

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George Kelemen Says Goodbye as TRA President/CEO

George Kelemen, Texas Retailers Association President/CEO has accepted a job offer at a national association and will be leaving TRA at the end of September. He spent the last 6 years serving the retail industry in representation of Texas retail leaders during unprecedented times. The Texas Retailers Association is grateful for his service and wish him the best of luck in his future role in Washington, D.C.  

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Temporary Increase Ends: WIC Cash Value Benefits

Effective October 1, 2021, the temporary increase of cash value benefits (CVB) ends and Texas WIC participants will receive their standard allotment of up to $11 to purchase fruits and vegetables.

The temporary increase was part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. WIC participants received an increase of $35 monthly to purchase fruits and vegetables from June 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021, at authorized Texas WIC vendors.

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

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SNAP Program Changes Coming Oct 1

Click here to see the Q/A on these new SNAP changes effective Oct. 1

City, Comptroller reach agreement on sales tax rule change injunction

The City of Round Rock and the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts reached an agreement Tuesday, Aug. 31, that prohibits the state from implementing a subsection of a new sales tax sourcing rule, pending a final hearing. 

The City filed a lawsuit in July seeking to overturn portions of the Comptroller’s Rule 3.334, which would source sales tax revenue from many online purchases to the buyer’s location instead of the seller’s place of business. This change to decades-old sourcing rules would have cost Round Rock millions of dollars a year in lost local sales tax revenue, most notably from online sales made by Round Rock-based Dell Technologies. 

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NGA Applauds Hours Of Service Waiver Extension For Grocery Truckers

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.

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Texas WIC New Approved Foods FY2022

Starting October 1, 2021, the Texas WIC Program will add new WIC approved foods to and remove some WIC approved foods from the Authorized Product List (APL).

Summary of Changes for FY22 (See chart below for more details.)

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Governor Abbott, HHSC Announce $1.4 Billion In Summer Pandemic Food Benefits For Texas Families

August 24, 2021 | Austin, Texas | Press Release

Governor Greg Abbott today announced that the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for a third round of federal Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) food benefits for families with children who have temporarily lost access to free or reduced-price school meals due to COVID-19.

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Reminder: Texas WIC Vendor Payment Temporary Closure Starts Tomorrow

Reminder: WIC Vendor Payment System Temporarily Closing - Starts August 25

Dear WIC Vendor Community,

It is that time of year when Texas WIC will transition to a new fiscal year (FY) in late August. Health and Human Services (HHS) will temporarily suspend the payment of WIC claims to close its accounting records for FY2021.

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