The ongoing and entirely admirable initiative to make alcohol to-go a legal thing in Texas has crossed an important threshold, with a bill filed by two heroic Dallas-Fort Worth legislators in both the Texas Senate and House.
Senator Kelly Hancock and Representative Charlie Geren filed SB 298 / HB 1094 to make Governor Greg Abbott's emergency waiver — allowing restaurants to safely sell alcohol with pickup and delivery food orders — a permanent thing.
SB 298 / HB 1094 would allow restaurants with a mixed beverage permit and a food and beverage certificate from TABC to sell beer, wine, and cocktails with food orders that are purchased for pickup or delivery, including through third-party delivery companies.
The bill requires that all alcoholic beverages be sealed either in their original, manufacturer-sealed container, or in a tamper-proof container that is labeled with the business' name and the words "alcoholic beverage."
Kelly Hancock represents Senate District 9, which includes portions of Tarrant and Dallas Counties. Charlie Geren represents District 99, which covers a wide swath northwest of Fort Worth. Go DFW.
Senator Hancock is Chairman of the Texas Senate's Business & Commerce Committee, and Representative Geren is Chairman of House Administration.
Geren says in a statement that he and Hancock have been working alongside TRA, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, and other stakeholders over the past several months on legislation "to allow restaurants with mixed beverage permits to sell alcohol to-go directly to their customers, or to be delivered by third-party delivery companies."
"I look forward to working with the legislature to pass this bill that will be a valuable revenue source to help our Texas restaurants come back from the devastating impacts of the pandemic," he says.
While there's no timetable as of yet, Texas' 87th legislative session begins January 12 and runs through the end of May.
Texas Restaurant Association CEO Emily Williams Knight says in a statement that the TRA applauds Chairman Hancock, Chairman Geren, and other allies such as The Texas Package Stores Association, whose support resulted in the filing of SB 298 / HB 1094.
"We know the road to recovery will be long, which is precisely why we need tools like alcohol to-go to become permanent," Knight says. "But even more than that, the filing of this bill is exciting because it demonstrates that Texas is ready, not just to rebuild, but to rebuild stronger than ever."