87th LegislatureState HouseAlcohol-to-Go Bill Passes Texas House on First Day of Floor Action

The popular regulatory reform swiftly passed the Texas House on its first day of floor bill votes.
March 24, 2021
The Texas legislature is one step closure to making to-go alcohol sales a permanent feature in code rather than a symptom of the pandemic response. The House passed the legislation to engrossment by voice vote.

House Bill 1024 — authored by Reps. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth), Justin Holland (R-Rockwall), Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound), and Leo Pacheco (D-San Antonio), and co-authored by a bevy of others — codifies take away sales for malt beverages, wine, and other alcoholic beverages under 375 milliliters.

Within the bill, however, are two requirements 1) it must be sold with food prepared by the seller and 2) that after purchase the product cannot be transported in the “passenger area” of the vehicle, defined as the “designed for the seating of the operator and passengers of the vehicle.”

Laws against alcohol-to-go sales were among the first suspended by Governor Greg Abbott when the pandemic hit Texas a year ago in an effort to aid the revenues of the struggling restaurant industry. Abbott touted alcohol-to-go and hinted at its codification back in May, stating, “From what I hear from Texans, we may just let this keep on going forever.”

In his post-election speech, Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) threw his weight behind the proposition, too.

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To-go sales became a lifeline to businesses of all types during the pandemic as consumers sheltered at home and government closed businesses for regular operations.

But it was not enough for many to make it through. By April, 20 percent of bars and restaurants in Texas had closed permanently.

Back in January, the Texas Restaurant Association applauded the bill, stating, “We know the road to recovery will be long, which is precisely why we need tools like alcohol to-go to become permanent. 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.”

“Without Governor Abbott’s temporary waiver allowing restaurants to safely sell alcohol with their to-go food orders, Texas would have seen many more restaurants – small and large – close their doors and lose their employees because of this pandemic.

An identical companion bill has been filed in the Senate by Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills).

Before Wednesday, the senate had passed four bills including the designating of essential caregivers and the electricity repricing legislation.


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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.