(TEXAS TRIBUNE) - The Texas Senate passed a measure Wednesday to permanently allow Texans to purchase alcohol to go from restaurants, advancing a shared goal of Gov. Greg Abbott and restaurateurs.
House Bill 1024, which cleared the lower chamber last month, would
allow beer, wine and mixed drinks to be included in pickup and delivery
food orders, securing a revenue stream made available to restaurants in
the last year during the pandemic, intended to help those businesses
when they closed their dining areas.
The Senate approved the legislation, filed by Republican state Rep. Charlie Geren, a restaurant owner in Fort Worth, in a 30-1 vote. The measure now heads to Abbott’s desk.
signed a waiver in March last year to allow to-go alcohol sales. The
waiver was originally to last until May 2020, but it was extended
indefinitely. As lawmakers began their work during the legislative
session, expanding Texans’ access to booze picked up bipartisan support.
tools for alcohol to go permanent will accelerate the industry’s
recovery, supporting thousands of jobs and small businesses along the
way,” said state Sen. Kelly Hancock,
R-North Richland Hills, laying out the bill Wednesday. “Once this
provision was placed in through the pandemic, we saw restaurants that
were closed down open back up.”
new, permanent alcohol-to-go option could benefit the restaurant
industry after it was devastated during the pandemic. According to the
Texas Restaurant Association, 700,000 restaurant employees in Texas lost
their jobs in the early days of the pandemic, and thousands of Texas
restaurants have closed.
restaurants in Texas have leaned on cocktails to-go throughout the
pandemic as a lifeline to keep their doors open and generate revenue,”
said Kristi Brown, senior director of state government relations for the
Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. “Now, the legislature
has taken action to make this critical measure permanent and provide
long-term support for Texas businesses. We thank Governor Abbott for
being a vocal supporter of cocktails to-go and encourage him to sign
this bill as soon as possible and make the business- and
consumer-friendly measure permanent in Texas.”