Will TABC Continue? A 52 Page Report May Have the Answer - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

1/6/05

Will TABC Continue? A 52 Page Report May Have the Answer

How the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission will operate in the future will be decided in the next few weeks. State lawmakers go to session Tuesday, and among the issues they will take up is the TABC and how it carries out its duties. NewsChannel 11 researched a 52 page in-depth report on the agency that has heavy implications on what will happen.

A night out on the town may mean dinner and something to wash it down with. TABC officers are supposed to regulate such activity in public. But the Sunset report states, "TABC lacks the clear focus needed in today's alcoholic beverage environment," meaning they're not doing their job, which is something our state representatives are highly concerned with.

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State Representative for District 84, Carl Isett said, "Some of the recommendations are well founded. I think there are certain aspects of the agency that need to be updated, some of the procedures." For example, merchants have to pay cash for alcohol.

"We have guys driving around delivering product carrying large amounts of cash, it's bad for business and unsafe for the drivers," says Isett.

TABC also currently regulates the size of beer cans that bars can sell. The report says that is a pointless measure that takes away from important issues, like targeting underage drinking. But as negative as the report may sound, the TABC agrees.

"We feel like it is important that we focus on safety issues such as underage drinking and public intoxication and not on the sizes of bottles of beer," said TABC Spokesperson, Carolyn Beck.

In October, several local bar owners and customers complained that TABC officers harassed them. A statewide investigation shows no wrongdoing occurred. However the report requires that TABC now "Maintains an internal affairs function to ensure effective investigations of alleged misconduct," because it "Lacks consistent penalties for violations."

Beck says the local complaints have nothing to do with that recommendation. "There were no discussions between us and sunset about any specific problems with the way we're handling investigations," said Beck.

Bottom line, in order to keep up with what was popular 70 years ago and what's still hot, the report says "The agency needs clear modernization," and some lawmakers agree. "Young people still like to drink and sometimes they choose to drive and so public safety should be of great concern," said Isett.

The Sunset Commission adopted all the recommendations and they voted for TABC to continue for another six years.

Lubbock's "strip", or the row of liquor stores at the edge of town, is in Representative Delwin Jones' district, and Jones says this report is no more than a standard review that all state agencies come under. He thinks TABC does a great job and no major changes need to be made.

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