DISCUS

TEXAS: End Discriminatory Restrictions on Package Store Owners, Distilled Spirits Council Testifies

April 6, 2009 08:00 PM

AUSTIN, TX – Eliminating an outdated law that enables certain package store owners to dominate the Texas market for liquor sales will open up growth opportunities for smaller businesses and provide better service to consumers, according to Distilled Spirits Council Vice President Dale Szyndrowski, who testified today before the Texas Senate Business and Commerce Committee in support of a bill to repeal the discriminatory restriction. 
 
Senate Bill 1216, sponsored by State Senator Rodney Ellis (Houston), would repeal a highly unusual law that allows an unlimited number of package store licenses for certain store owners that were in business prior to May 1, 1949; but limits everyone else to a maximum of five licenses.  Repealing this anti-competitive cap on package store ownership would allow all licensed package store retailers, regardless of when they started their business, to operate under the same set of laws. 

“Any Texan, regardless of tenure in the package store industry, should be able to have the same opportunities to grow his or her business,” Szyndrowski said.

Szyndrowski pointed out that Texas currently ranks 45th nationally in per capita spirits sales, compared to 13th in beer sales, citing the disparity in the number of retail outlets which greatly limits consumer convenience and choice.  He testified that there are 110 beer outlets in Texas for every 100,000 adults, but only 14 spirits outlets for the same number of consumers.

“Clearly, Texas consumers are not being served efficiently with the current license structure,” Szyndrowski said.  “No other segment of the industry has ownership restrictions like these.  It’s time to do away with Texas’s artificial government-imposed impediments to small business growth.”

On March 25th, the Distilled Spirits Council also testified in support of legislation to modernize Texas’s outdated ban on Sunday alcohol sales.  Texas is currently one of only 14 states that still cling to a Prohibition-era ban on Sunday alcohol sales at package stores.  In early March, Texas’s neighbor Arkansas became the latest in a national trend of states repealing Blue Laws to generate revenue without raising taxes in this difficult economy.  Currently, 36 states allow Sunday spirits sales.
 
The Distilled Spirits Council is the national trade association representing producers and marketers of distilled spirits sold in the United States.

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