The Texas House voted Thursday to extend beer and wine sales on Sundays and to let craft breweries sell beer to go.
Those new expansions of alcohol sales were amendments to a broader bill regarding the efficiency and operations of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission that must pass this legislative session in order to avoid shutting down the agency.
Both amendments were opposed by the bill’s author, state Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall. Paddie still cast a vote for the legislation, which received preliminary passage along a 135-0 vote, though he noted that the bill was no longer "completely clean."
The bill will still need a final stamp of approval in the House before it can head to the Senate for consideration. Once it’s in the upper chamber, members there can tweak the legislation. That means the upper chamber could strip those two new amendments from the legislation. (Update: The House passed the bill on third reading Friday morning, sending it to the Senate.)
The two amendments proposed by state Reps. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, and Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, consumed most of the debate Thursday. Springer's amendment would allow beer and wine sales to begin at 10 a.m. instead of noon on Sundays in licensed retailers such as convenience and grocery stores. It passed in a 99-40 vote. In laying out his amendment, Springer said his motion would put wine and beer sales in line with what's currently allowed at on-premise consumption locations, such as restaurants and bars.
"We allow country clubs to sell mimosas at 10 a.m.," Springer said during the debate on the House floor.
He also said his proposal won't affect liquor stores, which aren't allowed to operate on Sundays.
The passage of Springer’s amendment was met with a chipper response from state Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, who exclaimed upon its passage: “This is freedom. This is eagles!”
The House narrowly approved Rodriguez's amendment allowing craft breweries to sell beer to go — something that’s already legal in every other state, the representative said Thursday evening.
His amendment produced more of a nail-biter in the chamber. Paddie initially moved to table the amendment, and it initially looked like he prevailed by a one-vote margin. But a verification vote later clarified that the amendment was actually favorable to a majority of House members.
“We have to make these changes for these small breweries to grow,” Rodriguez said. “Let’s vote for small businesses here in Texas. Let’s vote for beer to go.”
The House is expected to give HB 1545 a final vote on Friday.