The Texas Craft Brewers Guild (TCBG) has submitted a response to the Texas Sunset Commission’s Review of the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Commission. TCBG applauds the independent commission for its thorough and thoughtful review of the agency and concurs with the overall theme of the findings – “TABC and the Alcohol Beverage Code are still in serious need of modernization.”
“We substantially agree with the recommendations made in the commission’s report and applaud the efforts to streamline and modernize a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code that, for its own continued operability, requires a great deal of change,” Texas Craft Brewers Guild Executive Director Charles Vallhonrat said. “To be perfectly clear, Texas craft brewers believe that if the Code isn’t substantially updated to reflect the obvious realities of the 21st Century marketplace, it will eventually die of its own weight and old age.”
Each legislative cycle, the Texas Sunset Commission reviews the performance of various state agencies to determine if their existence and function are still needed by the state. Agencies typically get reviewed approximately every 12 years. The Commission may recommend that an agency be terminated if they find that their function is no longer necessary for the safety and well-being of the people of Texas, but typically, the Sunset Commission sets out a list of recommendations for improving the operation and administration of an agency. These recommendations are then presented to a legislative committee charged with authoring a bill that will formalize the existence of the agency for another 12 years and include statutory changes for the agency to adopt.
Modernization of the Alcoholic Beverage Code in Texas has long been the rallying cry of the small and independent craft brewers in the state. Represented by the Texas Craft Brewers Guild, craft brewers are participating in the Sunset process through public comment and testimony at the upcoming December 13 Sunset Committee hearing for the TABC. Eliminating burdensome over-regulation of the craft beer industry and balancing the statutory power across the three tiers outlined by the code are paramount to the continued growth of the craft beer industry in Texas, as well as the overall health of the entire alcohol beverage community.
“Eliminating out-of-date and antiquated parts of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code is critical for our members,” Vallhonrat said. “A simple example is the Sunset Commission’s recommendation to eliminate the distinction between beer and ale, a unique Texas hold out from the prohibition era that has no bearing on the modern beer industry, yet it created government redundancies to regulate, adds additional costs and tax burdens to our brewers, and ultimately leads to increased costs to consumers. TCBG applauds the Sunset Commission’s recommendation to eliminate this outdated regulation and supports the Commission’s call to modernize the Alcoholic Beverage Code in Texas.”
Other recommendations contained in the Sunset Commission’s report that would, if adopted, have a positive impact on the Texas craft brewing industry include the consolidation of redundant licenses and permits, the elimination of superfluous state-level label approvals, and technology upgrades so TABC is able to perform its essential duties impacting permit holders with increased efficiency and transparency.
Click here to view a pair of letters submitted by TCBG to the Sunset Commission. The first, sent earlier this month, is a response letter to the commission’s report. The second, TCBG’s original recommendation letter sent in October, addresses certain “Major Issues” raised in TABC’s Self- Evaluation Report as well as additional Sunset recommendations relevant to Texas craft brewers. Many of these critical issues and recommendations were subsequently addressed in the Commission’s report.
The Sunset Commission will hold a hearing to take public testimony on agencies currently undergoing Sunset review, including TABC, at 9am on Thursday, December 13th at the Texas State Capitol.