Beyond the re-chartering of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) by the Texas legislature in 2007, most changes in the alcoholic beverage laws affecting retailers are fairly minor. Here are some that may be of interest to you. These take effect Sept. 1, 2007.

  • Alcoholic beverage permits will now be issued for a period of two years, instead of one. This will be phased in by the Commission.
  • It is a defense to prosecution for service of alcoholic beverages to a minor if a driver’s license is electronically scanned and confirms that the person is of age. Legislation allows the TABC to require by Rule retention of electronic information from driver’s license scans – stay tuned.
  • You may now pre-announce a promotion taking place on your premises, such as a free round of drinks sponsored by a manufacturer. Under prior law such promotions could not be announced in advance.
  • New statutory provisions allow retailers to join with wholesalers and manufacturers in sponsoring civic or charitable events. Rules will be developed by the Commission to guide these activities.
  • The old requirement that holders of mixed beverage permits give advance notice to the TABC of substantial changes in control is revised to match the requirements for all other permits for notice after the fact. The $500 filing fee unique to mixed beverage permits for such filings is also eliminated.
  • Concessionaires in public venues (stadiums, convention centers, etc.) may now take advantage of holding a TABC food and beverage certificate even if the sale of food is not their primary business at the premises.
  • Unless a food and beverage certificate is held, a “human trafficking hotline” number will be required to be posted on all mixed beverage premises. The TABC will create and provide these signs.
  • In related news, earlier in the year, the Texas 14% gross receipts tax audit hearings were transferred from the State Comptroller’s Office to the State Office of Administrative Hearings. This means the judges who hear audit cases will no longer be employed by the agency conducting the audit!
  • Finally, though not legislative, we can update you somewhat on the TABC’s response to the court decision we notified you about recently that declared unconstitutional the Texas residency requirements for officers and directors. While the TABC has not issued any written guidance yet, we understand that they are going to allow U.S. citizens who reside outside Texas to serve as officers and directors of Texas entities holding TABC liquor permits. The out-of-state residents will be required to provide certified copies of their criminal histories from all the states in which they have resided within the last five years. We also understand that the TABC is not planning to require fingerprinting of the individuals.