January 8, 2019

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.

TRA’s goal is to keep Texas “retail-friendly” and ensure that legislative action is taken to protect business owners so that they can continue to employ hardworking Texans and serve communities across Texas. As such, TRA’s legislative priorities for the 86th Texas Legislature are as follows:

  • 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. TRA appreciates the various approaches our membership takes to provide these services and supports their efforts to make those choices independently without unnecessary regulatory burdens imposed by either the state or local governments.
    • TRA will support 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.
    • Additionally, in light of the South Dakota v. Wayfair decision by the United States Supreme Court, TRA and its member-companies look forward to continuing to work with our state’s elected officials to implement any legislation, rules, and regulations in a way that reflects the spirit of the level playing field for all retailers envisioned by the Court’s ruling.
  • TRA supports Texas customers and communities. All TRA members provide the best service to all of their customers and communities and do so in a variety of ways. Whether providing food, clothing and essential supplies during the recent hurricanes, flooding and other natural disasters or providing school supplies and medication to those in need across the state, TRA’s members go above and beyond to support the customers that support their businesses. Our members coordinate closely with local, state and federal authorities in efforts to make sure our communities thrive throughout the year.
    • TRA members participate in the Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP) and want to do so as effectively and efficiently as possible to maximize customer experiences. Ensuring product availability to our customers while also allowing retailers to manage employees and inventories is essential in this process. To do so, TRA will advocate to broaden the SNAP distribution schedule from its current 15 days to 28 days. This will provide both customers and businesses with a more even and predictable shopping experiences across the state.
  • TRA supports property tax relief. Retailers across Texas are subject to increasingly higher and 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 taxes stacked on top of ever rising taxes being assessed on our buildings drive costs up for our businesses and ultimately the customers we serve. Retail property across the state is unique in its position in the market and we support a regulatory framework that allows for accurate and fair valuation of that property.
    • TRA supports inventory property tax relief and repeal. Texas is one of only a handful of states that allows local property taxes to be assessed on retail inventories. Those other states are not states with whom Texas normally competes for new business and economic development opportunities. Additionally, inventory property tax relief is not selective, it benefits large and small businesses equally and attracts greater investment in the Texas economy.

Again, TRA congratulates each of you as you begin the 86th session of the Legislature today, and we look forward to working with all of you to help keep Texas retail friendly. Please feel free to reach out to me, or any member of the TRA team, any time if we can be of assistance to you and your staffs.

Respectfully,

George Kelemen
President/CEO
Texas Retailers Association