The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission will continue to operate, after legislation to abolish the agency failed to be passed by the Texas Legislature.
Mere hours before the bill filing deadline in March, State Rep. Mayes Middleton (R–Wallisville) filed House Bill 4069, a bill to formally abolish the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. The proposal would have transferred TABC’s powers to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, resulting in one less Texas bureaucracy.
“TABC should facilitate the operations of small businesses, not strive to punish them and shut them down,” said Middleton. “It did not fulfill its mission to help small businesses and should be abolished. TABC’s actions cost many their life savings. The agency threatened fines, penalties, and the loss of license to operate for many in Texas—all because they were trying to make a living.”
The bill came after small businesses were ravaged, many to never reopen, as the result of Gov. Greg Abbott’s lockdown order. Since then, the TABC has become been a lightning rod for anger and protests, with 51-percenters (bar owners whose majority of profit comes from selling alcohol) forming a unified movement to challenge the edicts of TABC and Abbott. The 51-percenters also protested the harassment, intimidation, and violation of constitutional rights they endured at the hands of TABC agents.
The TABC has a scandal-ridden history; officials have been caught using taxpayer money for trips to ritzy Hawaiian resorts, the commission misreported who drove its vehicles in 2017, and it has a cozy relationship with big beverage companies. The agency’s chairman, Kevin Lilly, owns the largest wealth management company in Texas and has been criticized for regulating companies that provide him profit.
The bill never received a hearing, as it died after being referred to a subcommittee within Licensing & Administrative Procedures.