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News Releases

Get the latest headlines from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. You can look through all of the agency’s recent news releases on this page.

Members of the media should contact the TABC public information officer to make an inquiry.

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Oct 23, 2020

First-of-Its-Kind Training Course Will Help Rescue Human Trafficking Survivors

AUSTIN — A new course from the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and its partners provides crucial training to prepare peace officers across Texas to combat human trafficking and rescue survivors. The agency joined forces with the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) and Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) to produce the new continuing education course, which will keep Texas officers at the forefront of combating these crimes by learning to recognize and investigate signs of human trafficking. The course was developed by TABC with assistance from TEEX and will be administered statewide free of charge to officers using the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement’s online training portal. The online training will allow officers to receive continuing education hours and meet one of the requirements to obtain an advanced peace officer proficiency certificate while empowering them to help stop a crime that’s believed to impact more than 200,000 people in Texas alone. A new video produced by TABC illustrates the trauma experienced by thousands of human trafficking survivors across the Lone Star State. As the state’s sole authority regulating the alcoholic beverage industry, TABC plays a leading role in investigating and stopping suspected human trafficking taking place in state-regulated bars, nightclubs and other businesses where alcohol is sold. “Texas is No. 2 in the nation for reported cases of human trafficking, and it’s an unfortunate fact that these crimes can sometimes involve businesses licensed by TABC,” said TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles. “It’s incumbent on all Texans to do their part to help end this terrible crime. With their successful records of developing and deploying coursework to tens of thousands of Texas peace officers, our partnership with TEEX and TCOLE was a natural fit for this project.” The multi-agency effort represents a unified approach among Texas agencies to put an end to trafficking, according to Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp. “Human traffickers are a disease within our society that needs to be eradicated,” Sharp said. “Along with our partners, officials with the Texas A&M System and TEEX are equipped, willing and eager to do our part to help capture these predators and bring them to justice.” “Ending human trafficking in the state of Texas — in all its forms — will require the vigilance of every Texan,” said Dr. John Ray, director of the TEEX Institute for Law Enforcement and Protective Services Excellence. “This whole-community approach has been exemplified in this multi-agency effort to more effectively address this heinous crime, as well as raise public awareness.” Officers interested in taking the course may contact their department’s TCOLE liaison or TABC’s Training Division at 512-206-3333 for more information. Media Contact: Chris Porter Public Information Officermedia@tabc.texas.gov

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Oct 20, 2020

Alcohol Permits For Six Businesses Suspended Following Operation To Protect Texans

AUSTIN — A weeklong effort by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission to enforce the state’s COVID-19 health and safety protocols resulted in emergency orders to suspend the liquor licenses of six businesses. As part of Operation Safe Open, agents inspected businesses across Texas to ensure they’re following state standards to slow the spread of the virus. These requirements include indoor customer capacity limits of 50% for bars and 75% for restaurants, along with social distancing of at least 6 feet between groups of customers. Agents conducted 1,344 inspections over the last week. “These violations represent a very small number of the more than 20,000 licensed businesses inspected by TABC since the beginning of May,” TABC Chairman Kevin J. Lilly said. “A large majority of business owners are showing their commitment to keeping customers and employees safe, and we’re grateful for all of their hard work. TABC is committed to assisting the industry as we all work for a safe Texas.” “Protecting the health and safety of Texans during this pandemic is our top priority,” TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. “I’m incredibly proud of all the TABC employees working to ensure Texas bars and restaurants are able to operate safely. Our goal from the start has been to educate business owners about the requirements of the governor’s executive orders, and our Enforcement, Legal and Communications teams have done outstanding work to keep the industry and the public informed on how to stay safe while helping to reopen the Texas economy.” The businesses issued an emergency order for a 30-day permit suspension are: Ampersand — Fort Worth (Bledsoe Street) Lux Lounge — Houston The Whippersnapper — Dallas The Standard — Houston Spire — Houston Sol Billares — Houston TABC is strictly monitoring bar and restaurant activity and will pursue emergency license suspensions if there are violations that threaten public health and safety. TABC has the authority to suspend any license that poses a continuing threat to the public welfare. The first infraction may result in up to a 30-day license suspension, and the second may result in up to a 60-day suspension. Media Contact: Chris Porter Public Information Officermedia@tabc.texas.gov

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Oct 13, 2020

TABC Working With Texas Counties To Safely Reopen Bars Oct. 14

AUSTIN – As bars across the state prepare to reopen this week, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has launched an updated webpage with important information for local governments, business owners and communities. TABC’s Coronavirus Information Page, tabc.texas.gov/coronavirus, now features an interactive map listing the Texas counties that have been approved to allow bars to reopen under Gov. Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-32. The order allows bars to reopen at 50% capacity in Texas counties that both opt in to reopen bars and meet the state requirements related to local COVID-19 hospitalization rates and case counts. County judges in eligible counties must submit a form to TABC attesting their county’s status before bars may reopen. Forms and other information relevant to reopening are available for county judges on the TABC website. Bars in counties where county judges have met the requirements may resume operations at 50% capacity starting Oct. 14. Bars must follow all standards in Executive Order GA-32 and the Open Texas Strike Force checklists at open.texas.gov. So far, more than 80 Texas counties have met the requirements for bars to reopen. “This day has been long awaited by many industry members across Texas,” TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. “TABC is committed to helping bar owners and local governments put safety first during the reopening process. I urge all parties to check Governor Abbott’s website and the TABC website for the latest information and best practices as we work together to ensure a safe and successful reopening.” As bars reopen across the state, TABC agents and local health and safety officials will be checking to ensure businesses are complying with state guidelines to reduce the COVID-19 infection risk. Since June, TABC agents have conducted more than 17,000 inspections, finding that nearly 99% of businesses were in full compliance with the law. Media Contact: Chris Porter Public Information Officermedia@tabc.texas.gov

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Oct 7, 2020

TABC Will Work With County Governments, Alcoholic Beverage Industry To Ensure A Safe Reopening Of Bars Across Texas

AUSTIN – The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is working with county governments and alcoholic beverage industry members to ensure the safe reopening of thousands of Texas bars and clubs beginning Oct. 14. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Wednesday announced the reopening plan, which allows bars to reopen at 50% capacity once their county judge has certified that the county meets certain COVID-19 case or hospitalization standards set by state health officials. A certification form and instructions will be housed on the TABC website, along with information showing the counties that have allowed bars to reopen. “We greatly appreciate the trust Governor Abbott has placed in the alcoholic beverage industry,” TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. “The Governor’s plan offers a path for county judges to reopen multiple business types in their counties, including bars, breweries, distilleries and more. We’re grateful to all of the industry members who have put safety first since the pandemic began. I know countless Texans have eagerly awaited this day.” TABC staff will work closely with county governments, alcoholic beverage industry members and the Office of the Governor to provide guidelines for local officials and businesses alike, Nettles said. For the latest information on the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the Texas alcoholic beverage industry, visit: tabc.texas.gov/coronavirus. To read the Governor’s executive order, visit: https://gov.texas.gov/news/post/governor-abbott-issues-executive-order-to-open-bars-in-qualifying-counties   Media Contact: Chris Porter Public Information Officer chris.porter@tabc.texas.gov

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Sept 4, 2020

TABC Working With VFW, Veterans' Service Groups To Ensure Local Halls Remain Open

AUSTIN – A new initiative by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission helps veterans’ service groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion ensure their facilities can continue to provide critical services to military veterans during the COVID-19 pandemic. The move comes after concerns that numerous VFW halls and similar facilities, many of which contain bars, would be required to remain closed as part of Texas’ efforts to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. The new plan, which was jointly developed by TABC, the VFW and state elected officials, provides multiple options for veterans’ services groups looking to reopen their doors: Temporarily suspend alcoholic beverage license/permit: Eligible veterans’ service organizations may contact TABC to temporarily suspend their alcoholic beverage license or permit without penalty. This enables the organization to reopen its facility, though no alcohol may be sold. Re-diagram licensed premises: The organization can alter their licensed premises to exclude common areas away from the facility’s bar. This enables the organization to reopen the unlicensed portions of its facility to provide services to veterans. Operate as a restaurant: The organization can apply for a TABC Food and Beverage Certificate, allowing them to operate as a restaurant by either using their own kitchen facilities or by partnering with a third-party food vendor. For this option, alcohol sales must comprise less than 51% of the location’s gross receipts. TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles, an Army veteran, said the changes are part of an overall agency strategy to serve veterans. “TABC is grateful for the support of the VFW and the governor as we begin the statewide rollout of this program,” he said. “Helping those who have served our country falls in line with TABC’s core value of customer service, and I appreciate any opportunity to support our veterans.” Providing service to veterans is a personal mission for many TABC employees, according to agency Chairman Kevin Lilly. “TABC is proud to count dozens of armed forces veterans as employees,” Lilly said. “For many of us, finding ways to assist our fellow veterans is part of daily life. This program exemplifies our agency’s dedication to supporting those who have served our nation.” The program will greatly assist veterans’ organizations suffering under the COVID-19 pandemic, state Sen. Donna Campbell, M.D., said. “Our state’s veteran service organizations play a critical role in assisting the men and women who worked selflessly to defend our freedom,” said Campbell, who chairs the Texas Senate’s Veterans Affairs & Border Security Committee. “This plan will allow groups such as the VFW and American Legion to continue providing these services, which are needed now more than ever. I thank the TABC for their efforts on this matter." Veterans’ services organizations with questions on the program may contact their local TABC office for more information. To locate your nearest office or learn more, visit tabc.texas.gov. Media Contact: Chris Porter Public Information Officer chris.porter@tabc.texas.gov  

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Sept 1, 2020

Transformed TABC Website Offers Improved User Experience, Access to Public Records

AUSTIN — A top-to-bottom redesign of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s public website has gone live, offering users vastly improved search capabilities, the ability to download application forms, and quick and easy access to public information. The new site, which launched today, is the result of a more than nine-month redesign process that relied on feedback from agency employees, state lawmakers and members of the alcoholic beverage industry. The site is also fully optimized for mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones, making it easier for users to access important TABC functions and information on the go. “When designing the new site, we counted on feedback from the people who use the site the most — alcoholic beverage industry members,” TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. “Their input allowed us to build a website that provides a vastly better experience for industry veterans as well as everyday Texans.” The redesign is the first phase of several planned changes to the TABC website, Nettles added. Future updates will add increased functionality, including the ability to apply for a new TABC license or permit online. “As the alcoholic beverage industry continues to modernize and reinvent itself, so must TABC,” Nettles said. “This website is another step forward in our mission of providing the very best customer service to the 29 million Texans we serve. I’m grateful to our team and our industry partners for all of their hard work in making the new website a reality. We’re especially pleased that the transformed website makes it easier to learn more about TABC assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m hopeful all affected businesses will use the site to take advantage of the many services we can offer.” To learn more about the improvements to the TABC website, visit: tabc.texas.gov/news/articles/quick-guide-to-the-new-tabc-site-2020/. Media Contact:Chris Porter Public Information Officer (512) 206-3462

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Aug 27, 2020

TABC Offers Resources, Support for Businesses Affected by Hurricane Laura

AUSTIN — The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is ready to assist Texans whose businesses suffered damage following Hurricane Laura’s landfall early Thursday. While the storm’s worst effects were felt in neighboring Louisiana, TABC officials say businesses whose inventory was damaged by flooding, or those who need replacement documents from TABC, should contact their local office for assistance. Businesses may also obtain authorization to move product between locations. “While officials in counties across Southeast Texas continue to assess the damage, it appears we have avoided the worst of the damage,” TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. “Even so, it’s clear that tens of thousands of Texans are without power, and some businesses may need help as they begin the process of recovery.” Business owners are encouraged to visit TABC’s Disaster Assistance webpage to learn more about available assistance, including: Forms for declaring damaged alcoholic beverage inventory Deadline extensions for license/permit renewals Waiving of penalties for late excise tax reports Information about the latest Credit Law Delinquent Lists TABC’s Disaster Assistance Webpage can be found at: https://www.tabc.texas.gov/services/tabc-licenses-permits/disaster-assistance-for-licensees. Business owners with additional questions may contact their local TABC office for more information. Media Contact:Chris Porter Public Information Officer (512) 206-3462

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Aug 6, 2020

TABC Arrest Store Clerk Connected to Fatal Motorcycle Crash

AUSTIN — The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has arrested and charged a Center Point woman with illegally selling alcohol to an intoxicated man accused of causing a fatal July 18 motorcycle wreck that left four people dead near Kerrville. Ranelle Diane Welch, 37, turned herself into Kerr County authorities on August 6 following a TABC investigation. Welch is charged with Sale to Certain Person, which is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. She was later released on a $2,000 bond. Welch was working at a Dollar General store in Center Point around noon on July 18 when she sold beer to Ivan Robles-Navejas, 28, of Center Point. Investigators believe Robles-Navejas was already intoxicated when Welch sold him the alcohol. A short time later, Robles-Navejas was involved in a collision between his vehicle and members of the Thin Blue Line Motorcycle Club, who were riding in a group on Texas 16. According to investigators with the Department of Public Safety, Robles-Navejas' vehicle crossed the center line, hitting 11 motorcycles and killing three riders at the scene. A fourth rider died of his injuries several days later. The Thin Blue Line Motorcycle club is comprised of active and veteran peace officers as well as supporters of law enforcement. State law prohibits the sale of alcohol to any person who exhibits signs of intoxication at the time of sale. "This is an extremely tragic case which may have been avoided if this individual was prevented from purchasing additional alcohol beverages prior to the crash," TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. "TABC will hold accountable all businesses and employees who may have contributed to this case by illegally selling alcohol. We're grateful for the support of the Department of Public Safety, whose investigators were instrumental in assisting TABC agents in identifying the source of the alcohol in this case." The case remains under investigation. Media Contact:Chris Porter Public Information Officer (512) 206-3462

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July 10, 2020

Judge Rules in Favor of TABC's Permit Suspension of Texas Nightclub

AUSTIN — A Texas administrative judge has affirmed the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission's 30-day suspension order against a nightclub in McAllen. On June 18, TABC agents inspected Elevate Nightclub, and discovered that it was not operating in accordance with the Governor's executive order and had failed to monitor and enforce social distancing standards. The agency served the business with a 30-day permit suspension order the next day. "TABC is grateful for the administrative judge's decision affirming the agency's emergency suspension order of Elevate Nightclub," TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. "It's our hope that emergency suspensions such as this will continue to be the exception, not the rule. The vast majority of business owners are heeding Gov. Abbott's executive order and placing the safety of their customers and employees first." TABC is strictly monitoring bar and restaurant activity and will pursue emergency permit suspensions if there are violations that threaten public health and safety. TABC has the authority to suspend any permit that poses a continuing threat to the public welfare. The first infraction will result in a 30-day license suspension, and the second will result in a 60-day suspension. The Governor's Strike Force to Open Texas has developed specific guidelines bars and restaurants must follow. To see the guidelines and learn more about the governor's efforts to reopen Texas, visit open.texas.gov. Find TABC's resources for businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic at tabc.texas.gov/coronavirus. Media Contact: Chris Porter Public Information Officer (512) 206-3462

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June 29, 2020

TABC Continues Efforts to Ensure Compliance with Governor's Executive Order

AUSTIN — The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has suspended seven bars' alcohol permits for 30 days after they refused to comply with an executive order from Gov. Greg Abbott requiring that bars cease operations to limit the spread of COVID-19. The order, issued by Abbott on June 26, requires all bars earning at least 51% of their revenue from sales of alcohol to suspend operations. Restaurants earning less than 51% of their revenue from alcohol sales may continue to operate at 50% of their indoor seating capacity. Businesses that do not comply with the order face up to a 30-day suspension of their license to sell alcohol for the first violation, followed by up to a 60-day suspension for the second violation. Continued violations could result in additional penalties, including cancellation of the business' alcohol license or permit. TABC agents visited nearly 1,500 businesses across the state June 26-28 to ensure compliance with the order. Of those, 59 were operating in violation of the governor's order, with 52 agreeing to immediately cease operations after TABC's visit. The remaining seven businesses did not agree to suspend operations and were issued 30-day suspensions of their permit. These businesses include: Black Stone USA, Fredericksburg Bokeeters Cocktail Bar, New Caney Prospect Park, Houston The Park @ The Domain, Austin The Venue Private Club, Wills Point Two other locations' permits were suspended June 26 and were previously announced by TABC: Whiskey Girl, Abilene Outlaws Longview, Longview "We know this is an extremely difficult time for our state's bar owners and we sympathize with all of the owners, operators and employees who are hurting during this pandemic," TABC Executive Director Bentley Nettles said. "It's the duty of all Texans to do what's necessary to prevent the spread of this disease. Taking these steps now will help ensure a quicker re-opening once this pandemic has passed." Texans can report a potential violation by emailing complaints@tabc.texas.gov, calling 888-THE-TABC, or using the free TABC:Mobile app for Apple and Android devices. To view TABC's guidance for the alcoholic beverage industry, visit www.tabc.texas.gov/coronavirus. Media Contact: Chris Porter Public Information Officer (512) 206-3462

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