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New beer, wine and tobacco laws

This past legislative session, the Texas Legislature passed several laws which impact Texas retailers who sell beer and wine, as well as tobacco. These new laws went into effect Sunday, September 1st. Although we understand the Texas Alcoholic and Beverage Commission (TABC), as well as the Texas Comptroller’s office have communicated with our state’s retailers about these new laws and their impacts or changes, we wanted to make sure all TRA members had the most updated information. 

Below for your reference are an industry notice from TABC, which includes a detailed document reflecting all of the changes impacting TABC enacted last session, as well as this link from the Comptroller’s office regarding the new Over 21 Tobacco law. The link contains helpful information along the right hand side. However, we understand that there is still ambiguity regarding what constitutes acceptable ID’s for the military exemptions for tobacco purchases. TRA is in contact with the Comptroller’s office on this issue and we have asked them to issue clarifying guidance to retailers ASAP. Here is a link to more information about including the "Texas Retailer Tobacco Packet." We will continue to monitor this and report back as we learn more details.

Paid Sick Leave Update

Dallas:

On July 29th, several plaintiffs aligned with TRA filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court in Collin County, in the northwest suburbs of Dallas, seeking to block the Dallas PSL ordinance. An initial hearing on this lawsuit is expected in the coming days. Although the court could rule to temporarily invalidate the Dallas PSL ordinance (while the full case is litigated), it is unfortunate that this outcome will not be known until possibly several days or even weeks into August. TRA and our business allies are confident this will be the result, however with it now being August 1st, the Dallas PSL ordinance is technically in effect at this time, although the city has stated that fines will not be levied until April 1, 2020. As a result TRA is strongly suggesting member companies who have employees working within the City Limits of Dallas do two things as of August 1st:

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Implementation for new state laws underway

On the advocacy front, TRA remains engaged in the rulemaking and implementation processes for new state laws impacting retailers that were passed during the state legislative session, earlier this year. Additionally, we continue to fight for retailers against the ill-conceived local Paid Sick Leave ordinances which have popped up in several Texas cities. On the federal level we are continuing our push to have Congress ratify the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) before the end of the year, as well as to find opportunities to make the much-needed technical corrections to the 2017 Tax Reform law. For more timely advocacy updates, make plans to join TRA’s monthly Tax & Legislative Committee calls, which typically occur the second Thursday of each month at 2pm CT. These calls are a great way to keep up with all of the advocacy efforts TRA engages in on your behalf. Reach out to any member of the TRA team to be added to the distribution list for the Tax & Lege call announcements.

That said, it is now more important than ever to engage your elected officials (state and federal) with store tours and other opportunities to discuss the state and federal issues that matter most to you and your business. Making it local helps them see much more clearly the impact of their actions, or inactions. As we approach a very important election year in 2020, it’s important for all of us to work to educate them on the issues which matter most to retailers, as well as to know where they stand on our industry’s key issues. One way you and your company can help support and elect retail friendly legislators is by contributing to the Texas Retailers Association Political Action Committee (TRAPAC). You can get the latest information on TRA’s advocacy efforts, as well as information on how you or your company can contribute to TRAPAC, by visiting the TRA website here.

TRA Recap of 86th Legislative Session

The 86th Session of the Texas Legislature officially concluded and was gaveled Sine Die, on Monday, May 27th. This was a different session than in the recent past because Representative Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) was the new Speaker of the Texas House. Additionally, the relationships between the big three, Governor Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Speaker Bonnen seemed to be in sync on key legislative issues from the beginning of session, which was a bit different than recent legislative sessions. As always, Texas Retailers Association (TRA) went to work on your behalf in the halls of the Capitol building playing both offense and defense on a variety of issues.

TRA fought very hard to pass good legislation and to kill bad bills that would have been detrimental to our members and industry. On balance, TRA had a good legislative session, getting key TRA priorities passed into law, playing effective defense on potentially harmful bills, and leaving a few key issues to continue to be worked on during the interim. Overall, 7,324 bills were filed during the 86th Texas Legislature and 1,429 of them were passed. TRA actively tracked over 550 bills and hundreds more amendments directly impacting the retail industry.

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2019 Lobby Day Recap & Pictures

On Wednesday, March 20th, the Texas Retailers Association held their biennial Texas Retailers Lobby Day. Members of the Texas Retailers Association visited Austin, Texas to meet with Members of the Texas Legislature about the issues that affect the retail industry. Attendees started their day with breakfast, a briefing on the major issues, and a lesson on “How to Lobby.” After being bused over to the State Capitol, retailers walked the halls, meeting with key legislators and their staff about SNAP Distribution, Wayfair, consistent employment regulations, and other issues that concern retailers and grocers. Members of TRA’s Executive Committee met with Governor Greg Abbott, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and Speaker Dennis Bonnen. Attendees were encouraged to meet with their Representative and Senator as well. Click here to view some of the highlights from Texas Retailers Lobby Day 2019!

Letter: Texas Retailers 2019 Legislative Priorities

Dear Members of the Texas Legislature:

As the 86th session of the Texas Legislature convenes today, The Texas Retailers Association (TRA) congratulates each of you and extends best wishes for a successful session. Collectively, TRA represents more than 300,000 retail establishments and over 3.5 million jobs across the state. The association supports all levels of Texas retail including grocery stores, chains and single location small businesses.

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