The Texas House passed HB 1024 by a vote of 144-1 on Thursday, March 25. The bill is now heading to the Texas Senate for consideration.
This would be a win for restaurant owners, says Anna Tauzin with the Texas Restaurant Association. "Restaurants in Austin, and across the state are very happy to know they're going to have an additional stream of revenue coming in the door and going out the door," she said.
The bill, introduced by state Rep. Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth) and co-authored by Democrats essentially extends the current law, which was technically an executive order put in place during the pandemic to help restaurants keep their doors open.
"We were luckily able to get an executive order signed by Gov. Abbott [which] allowed alcoholic beverages mixed on-site, to go, which was pretty revolutionary for Texas," Tauzin said.
It's revolutionary because Texas has long been restrictive with alcohol. Since the repeal of prohibition, Texas has banned the sale of liquor on Sundays. However, grocery stores and gas stations can sell beer and wine after noon.
"I think that being able to create a permanent stream of income is important for every restaurant because it's something they can depend on, they can project sales based on it," Tauzin said.
Some Texans have expressed concerns that permanently legalizing alcohol to go sales would lead to open container violations, but Tauzin says that having the executive order in place was a chance to prove otherwise.
"It was an opportunity for us to showcase that restaurants are responsible enough for us to do this and consumers are responsible enough to purchase alcohol to go," she said.