This article has been updated throughout.
AUSTIN (Nexstar) — The Texas House approved a bill that would allow restaurants to deliver alcoholic beverages with food purchases, including beer, wine and mixed drinks.
The bill passed to engrossment on 2nd reading on a voice vote Wednesday and was passed out of the House 144-1 on Thursday. The lone nay was State Rep. Matt Shaheen, R-Plano.
At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Greg Abbott waived regulations to temporarily allow the pickup and delivery of alcoholic beverages from restaurants selling food.
The legislation the House okayed Wednesday was authored by State Rep. Charlie Geren, R- Fort Worth, and would make permanent the temporary waivers Abbott issued last year.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a very, very negative effect on restaurants,” Geren said.
House Bill 1024 would authorize the holder of a mixed beverage permit who also holds a food and beverage certificate to allow consumers to pick up sealed alcoholic beverages from the premises. It also would allow the delivery of alcoholic beverages in a tamper-proof container. The legislation also applies to private clubs with a proper license.
The president of the Texas Restaurant Association celebrated the bill’s advancement in the House, saying, “Texans – we’re one big step closer to being able to have our tacos and margaritas to go – FOREVER!”
Gov. Abbott says his temporary waiver to help restaurants was a success.
“There were some regulations that were cut in order to help businesses make ends meet,” Abbott said in January. “One example is we authorized alcohol-to-go to assist restaurants to be able to stay open and continue to operate.”
“From what I hear from Texans, we may just let this keep on going forever,” Abbott said last spring.
The bill passed unanimously out of committee earlier this month.
State Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, authored the Senate companion.
HB 1024 heads to the Texas Senate. If it passes the Senate, it would be sent to Gov. Abbott’s desk.