Texas leaders have made issues like teacher pay and property tax reform the big priorities in this year's legislative session. But at least one lawmaker is thirsty for change when it comes to drinking laws. Rep. Richard Peña Raymond (D-Laredo) has introduced two bills related to alcohol. House Bill 1100 would allow Texas liquor stores to open on Sundays, while House Bill 1083 would establish a sales tax holiday on beer for the Fourth of July.
On HB 1100, Raymond tells KTRH it's not about alcohol as much as a philosophy of smaller government. "Chick-Fil-A makes the decision to close on Sunday, it's up to them," he says. "I don't like government picking winners and losers, I would like the free market to be free, and that is what this is about.I think it's time for us to move into the 21st century."
Indeed, Texas is one of only eight states that still have so-called blue laws prohibiting liquor sales on Sundays. But Raymond points out that bars and restaurants can still sell and serve liquor seven days a week. "What we have in the state of Texas is the government saying we're going to let (some businesses) sell it on this day, but we'll tell these others you can't be open," he says. "That just doesn't make sense to me."
As for HB 1083, Raymond says it's an homage to the hard-working Texans he represents. "I have constituents who work hard every day, they're blue collar and everything else, and I just thought I'd like to give them one little break," he tells KTRH. "So I thought why not just a little sales tax break for folks to go buy some beer to celebrate July 4th."
Raymond's bills aren't the only possible changes to Texas liquor law. The state is fighting a lawsuit in federal court that seeks to open up liquor sales in Texas to major retailers like Walmart.