Okay Texas beer drinkers, once again the Legislature is back in session – and it's time for you citizens to stand up for those who provide us with our favorite tasty, tasty beverage.
So far I've found two filed bills related to beer:
HB 602: This is the return of what has become an every-other-year (that's how often the Lege meets) cause among microbrewery fans, a bill to allow brewers to sell their product on the premises. Currently in Texas, brewers (not including brewpubs) must sell their product through wholesalers. Previous attempts to get this right — one that winemakers have, but brewers do not (!) — have been killed or at least delayed in committee thanks to the lobbying group Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas. The bill was introduced yesterday by Rep. Jessica Farrar of Houston (who, I recently discovered, is married to someone with whom I attended high school!). Technically, the bill won't allow direct sales, but it will allow up to two cases of beer as a parting gift upon completion of brewery tour — for which admission may be charged.
HB 660: This bill is sort of the inverse of HB 602. Whereas microbreweries cannot sell directly to consumers, brewpubs can sell only to consumers — in other words, they can't put their product on store shelves. This bill would allow them to sell to wholesalers, so this bill would allow them the right to sell off the premises. This bill was introduced today by Rep. Mike Villarreal of San Antonio (who, as far as I know, is not married to any of my former high school classmates).
What can you do to help make these perfectly sensible laws pass? Contact your legislators and politely tell them that you are a voter, a constituent, and you support these bills. Start with your state representative, since the bill is in the House. Then keep coming back to this blog, and I'll update you on when the bills have been referred to a committee, when the bills will be heard in committee (you may even consider showing up to testify in support of the bills, especially if you're in Austin), and if the bills make it to the Senate, I'll continue following them through the process. (Or, if you're a do-it-yourself type, the Texas Legislature's website allows you to get e-mail alerts on a bill's status sent directly to you.)