Houston News & Search
Published 4:25 pm, Friday, March 24, 2017
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission might be known for imposing rigid alcohol laws on hospitality businesses in this state, but its employees know how to let loose and throw back some cocktails.
The Texas Tribune offered a glimpse into the TABC’s traveling, partying and big-spending ways, often facilitated by the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators.
For a trip where TABC agents stayed at Rancho Bernardo Inn in California, the NCSLA greeted them by describing the accommodations as a “warm and welcoming resort nestled on 280 acres of green lawns. This resort has it all, so plan to come early and/or stay after the conference to relax, rejuvenate, and play.”
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Other conference destinations included trips to Hawaii and a $28,000 stay in San Antonio.
The Tribune also published a photo the organization created to celebrate a trip to San Diego showing personnel downing bottles of Lone Star beer. The photo is included in a lawsuit filed by a grocery supply company against the commission.
“TABC billed the state at least $8,000 for the jaunt to San Diego alone, records from the agency and the state comptroller’s office show,” that publication reported. “And in 2013 TABC shelled out more than $10,000 in taxpayer funds to send four people to the association’s annual conference at the Sheraton Waikiki in Honolulu, according to the records.”
TABC Director Sherry Cook defends the institution by explaining that the trips are valuable because they allow for an exchange of information.
“NCSLA is a place where state regulators from across the United States come together, and we talk a lot about, you know, best practices,” Cook told that publication. “This is that place where we come together to have these discussions.”
Critics argue the TABC is merely safeguarding the powerful industry companies that control the liquor market. They also claim the agency’s control can be seen in its strict enforcement of laws that many free market businesses see as arbitrary and unnecessary.
Craft brewers have, for years, been fighting against TABC’s rules that inhibit the free market and seem to favor big-business macro-breweries.
As for the NCSLA’s next few conferences, they’ll be again held in San Diego and Hawaii, according to the association’s site calendar.
Houston News & Search