Monday May 29, 2023, marked the end of the 88th Texas Legislature and the beginning of the interim leading up to the 89th Texas Legislature which will kick off January 14, 2025. Almost immediately after the final gavelling out of the Regular Legislative Session, Governor Abbott called the legislature back into Special Session on Property Tax reform and Border Security, and at least one more additional Special Session on School Vouchers is also expected in September. In the meantime, the Texas State Senate is also involved in an Impeachment Process and is expected to begin the trial of AG Paxton by August 25, 2023.
While this regular legislative session didn’t mark great progress for the Texas Craft Beer industry or alcohol regulation modernization as a whole, a few notable bills relating to alcohol did pass. Alcohol bills making it across the finish line include House Bill (HB) 3712, Senate Bill (SB) 60, SB 2284, SB 1375, SB 1932, SB 1322, HB 420, SB 998, HB 4964, and HB 1825. HB 3712 is the major malt beverage bill this session which allows wholesalers (Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission or TABC License types W, BB, and BC) to provide samples of malt beverage to retailers and caps those samples to 72 ounces of any one brand of malt beverage.
SB 60 will allow holders of a Distiller and Rectifier’s Permit (TABC license type D) to enter into contract distilling agreements similar to the contract brewing privileges that manufacturing breweries currently enjoy. Also on the distilling side, SB 2284 increases the to-go bottle limit for distilled spirits to four 750ml bottles or the equivalent volume up from the previous two 750ml bottles allowed to be sold directly to consumers for off premise consumption. The final distiller bill that we should take note of this session is SB 1375, which allows distillers to sample their products at festivals and farmers markets. This session was huge for our friends on the distilling side of the alcohol manufacturing industry, so be sure to congratulate them when you see them on the hard fought victories. Two other alcohol bills, colloquially called The Dusty Bottle Bills, SB 1932 and SB 1322 which allow for vintage spirits and vintage wine collectors to sell unopened vintage bottles of wine and spirits to certain retailers with a couple new permit types to be created by TABC.
Several of the other alcohol bills crossing the finish line were public safety related including HB 420, entitled Kyle and Ethan’s Law, and carried by the author of the house Beer To You bill, Representative Shelby Slawson of Stephenville, increasing penalties for providing alcoholic beverages to minors who are involved in a motor vehicle accident resulting in serious injury or death. Also on the public safety side, SB 998 requires MB permit holders who do not qualify as a restaurant, to train staff on opioid overdose procedures in addition to the standard seller-server training already required of front of house employees.
A couple lighter-hearted and local alcohol sales bills that could provide some opportunities for our membership are HB 4964 which will allow the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin the ability to sell or provide alcoholic beverages for on premise consumption and HB 1825 which allows the Arlington Independent School District to allow possession, consumption and sale of alcoholic beverages at its Center for Visual and Performing Arts when leased to a nonprofit organization for an event not sponsored or sanctioned by the district.
Also impacting industry members and the overall Texas business community, SB 12, commonly referred to as the Drag Show Bill, will amend the Health and Safety code to prohibit commercial enterprises from allowing a sexually oriented performance to be presented on the premises in the presence of an individual younger than 18 years of age. While the original filing of this legislation included language targeting male performers presenting as female and female performers presenting as male, a committee substitute in the House rolled back this language and directed the legislation towards existing penal code language focused on lewd gestures and nudity instead of language that specifically targeted drag performers. With that being said, we will focus on the final enrolled version of the bill which has been sent to Governor Abbott’s desk in the rest of this paragraph.
This legislation will make the entity or person in violation of this prohibition liable to the state for a civil penalty capped at $10,000 per violation. For purposes of this legislation, “Premises” is defined as a building or a portion of a building, excluding any public or private driveway, street, sidewalk or walkway, parking lot, parking garage, or other parking area and “Sexually Oriented Performance” is defined as a visual performance that appeals to the prurient interest in sex and features a performer who is nude, as defined by Business & Commerce Code provisions relating to fees imposed on certain sexually oriented businesses, or any other performer who engages in sexual conduct; and “sexual conduct” as the following:
- the exhibition or representation, actual or simulated, of sexual acts, including vaginal sex, anal sex, and masturbation;
- the exhibition or representation, actual or simulated, of male or female genitals in a lewd state, including a state of sexual stimulation or arousal;
- the exhibition of a device designed and marketed as useful primarily for the sexual stimulation of male or female genitals; or
- actual contact or simulated contact occurring between one person and the buttocks, breast, or any part of the genitals of another person.
- the exhibition of sexual gesticulations using accessories or prosthetics that exaggerate the male or female sexual characteristics
This does not outright ban drag shows from taking place, but instead focuses on explicit gestures involved in a performance. This would expand on existing language found in the penal code around public indecency and many of the items found in the legislation already exist in that code. Provided Governor Abbott signs this legislation into law or allows it to go into effect without signature, this would go into effect on September 1, 2023. This should not impact any drag shows or other performances that are 18 and older only, however things such as drag bingo or other daytime all-ages events could be impacted by this legislation.
Please reach out to Travis if you have any questions on these or any other bills that passed or did not pass the 88th Texas Legislature. Thank you for the support of your guild this legislative session, and a special additional shout out to the Guild members who came out to and supported Beer To You and Interfacility Transfer at the various Hoppy Hours, Capitol Beer Drops, and the Member Lobby Day at the Texas Capitol, by showing up and joining in the process you truly showed the passion and pride in our industry that helps move the needle on our issues in your state capitol. While we didn’t get across the goal line this time, we look forward to lacing up and getting back on the field in 2025 as we fight to make Texas the finest state in the nation for Craft Beer.