Some laws have little purpose other than to give some well-connected businesses an unfair advantage over the competition. The Texas Legislature addressed a couple of such inequities by easing restrictions on alcohol sales.
It just didn’t go far enough.
The sunset bill for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission renews the commission until 2031 and cuts the number of state-required alcohol-related licenses in half. It also reduces or combines the number of different permits and licenses the commission issues from 75 to 36; for example, separate permits no longer will be needed to make or sell beer and ale.
The bill also allows more people to take home beer they buy directly from brewers. The second allows home delivery of beer and wine.
Before the new laws went into effect on Sept. 1, patrons of many microbreweries who found they like a specialty beer had to drink it on site; they couldn’t take bottles home to drink them later.
Ours was the last state to prohibit beer-to-go at microbreweries, although it was allowed at brewpubs. Makers of hard liquor and wine could sell bottles of their products directly to the public, meaning the restrictions only applied to beer brewers — to the benefit of major beer companies and their distributors.
As a result, people who visited microbreweries had to drink anything they bought on site; they couldn’t drive home and enjoy it later. They had three choices: not buy the beer, designate a driver who then couldn’t enjoy the products, or drive home after drinking. The latter option obviously could put the person and other drivers at risk.
The same applies to the second new law, which allows home delivery of alcoholic beverages.
Beer and wine makers now can take orders and deliver their products to people at home, meaning people hosting parties or sports-watching gatherings don’t have to look for the least drunk participant to make a beer run when supplies run low — and that person wouldn’t be rushing to make the trip as fast as possible to get back to the action.
However, those same brewpubs that benefit from the first law are excluded from the second. This law allows home deliveries by package stores and retailers that also hold local cartage permits. Those permits can only be obtained by a package store, wine-only or wine-and-beer retailer or a distributor’s permit. Brewpubs are specifically prohibited from delivering their products, and it appears that restaurants with alcohol permits don’t qualify either.
So it appears that people still can’t order beer to be delivered along with that pizza order, or ask for wine along with that chicken Marsala.
We hope these shortcomings will become obvious to lawmakers. May they reconvene in 2021 ready to put the public’s interests above those of big beer distributors and expand home delivery so that beer and wine drinkers don’t feel the need to get behind the wheel to restock the fridge.