AUSTIN – Yesterday, Senator Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, and Representative Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs, filed SB 609 and HB 1225 to eliminate anti-competitive provisions of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code on behalf of Texas consumers who deserve and expect greater consumer choice, convenience and competition in the retail sale of spirits.
Texans for Consumer Freedom (TCF), a consumer education and advocacy organization supporting the elimination of anti-competitive aspects of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, commends Senator Hancock and Representative Isaac for leading the fight for free markets and fair competition by leveling the playing field for the retail sale of spirits.
“Texans for Consumer Freedom applauds Senator Hancock and Representative Isaac for their commitment to competition in our state,” said TCF spokesman Travis Thomas. “Texans believe in free markets and fair competition, but Texas is the only state in the nation that allows private corporations to compete in the retail sale of spirits while prohibiting publicly traded companies from doing so. This law is clearly anti-competitive and harms Texas consumers by withholding from them the choice and convenience they deserve and expect.”
In addition to prohibiting publicly traded companies from owning package (liquor) stores, another Texas law, which dates back to 1935, limits the number of package store permits to no more than five per person. An often-exploited loophole in this law allows close family members to consolidate their permits and expand their private chains without limitation. For example, the state’s largest private package store chain, Spec’s, operates 160 stores throughout Texas while state law shelters the corporation from competition with publicly traded companies.
The legislation proposed by Senator Hancock and Representative Isaac levels the playing field by allowing publicly traded companies to compete in the retail sale of spirits and eliminating the 80 year-old, five-store ownership restriction. SB 609 and HB 1225 propose no modifications to the well-established three-tier system of manufacturers, distributors and retail package stores, nor do they seek to modify current TABC safety requirements or laws requiring package stores to have entirely separate entrances, restricted access to minors, or minimum distances to churches and schools.
According to Thomas, “The government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers. It is time for state government to stop playing favorites and level the playing field so Texans receive the choice and convenience that free markets and fair competition should provide.”
Texans for Consumer Freedom is a registered 501(c)(6) education and advocacy organization of retailers, consumers, and free market advocates committed to eliminating anti-competitive aspects of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code and standing up for fair competition in the retail sale of spirits. For more information, visit www.TexansForConsumerFreedom.com.