TRA has been very busy in our advocacy efforts over the last few weeks. We participated in the Senate Property Tax Reform and Relief Committee field hearing at the University of Houston where TRA members, Mike Lewis (Lewis Food Town) and Kathryn Sharp (Stage Stores) testified on the importance of inventory tax relief. The committee has heard lots of complaints from homeowners, so it was essential that they also hear from the business community as we pay a large portion of property taxes in the state.
TRA also submitted written testimony to the House Business and Industry Committee last week during their hearing on cyber security. We stressed how important this issues is to our industry and at the same time it is very complicated and expensive. Over regulation by the state and federal government can be burdensome from businesses large and small while not actually increasing security.
In late May, we traveled to Washington DC to attend NRF’s annual fly in and visit with all of the key members of Texas’ congressional delegation about issues important to retailers in Texas. Rex Solomon (Houston Jewelry), Amber Gustafson (Amber’s Designs), Steve Bercu (Book People), Arnold Grothues (JC Penney) and State Representative John Raney (Aggieland Book Store) joined us and brought a great real world voice of retail operations to the conversations.
Last, we recently sat down with the Texas Department of Agriculture leadership to discuss another fee that the agency will be increasing starting September 1, 2016. Effective September 1, the annual fee for nursery and floral licenses will increase from $75 to $110 for class one registrations with the remainder of classifications going up as well. According to the agency, this is a necessary fee increase to keep up with the cost recovery directive set forth by the Legislature. The fee has not been increased for about 12 years and they also indicated that this should be the last fee increase we will experience this year. Of note, we welcomed this meeting, in advance of publishing the regulation, to dialogue with our industry about the coming increase. This is a positive step in how TDA is seeking to engage stakeholders after having blindsided our industry late last year regarding the increase on scales. Additionally, TDA’s Assistant Commissioner will be at our Forum to serve as a panelist and answer questions during our Regulatory Roundup Session in the Government Relations Track.

Jim Sheer
VP of Government and Regulatory Affairs
Texas Retailers Association
Office – 512.472.8261
Cell – 512.694.5707