19 Nov SUNSET Report – Issue 1 and Recommendations
Sunset Issue 1
Texas Has a Continuing Need for TABC, but a Weak Commission Limits Its Ability to Effectively Oversee and Regulate the Alcoholic Beverage Industry.
Key Recommendations • Continue TABC for 12 years. • Expand the Alcoholic Beverage Commission from three to five members. • Modernize TABC’s conflict-of-interest provisions by defining financial interest to mean 1 percent or more in an alcoholic beverage business. • Authorize the commission to establish advisory committees by rule. • Direct TABC to update its rule describing the separation of duties between the commission and executive director.
While Sunset believes TABC plays a vital role in the public safety and regulation of alcohol consumption, they also believe Board size is limiting the agency’s effectiveness. From the recommendations, Sunset staff believes a larger Board means more engagement with industry, development of expertise, better-informed decisions, engagement in rulemaking, and better agency decisions relating to agency policies. Apparently, the logic is if the job requires less time (by sharing the job with more members), the commitment to serve will not be so labor intensive and thus more attractive.
I have served many a Board member, and It has been my experience these activities do not depend on the number of members but the commitment level of the individual Board member. There were those members I rarely heard from to those who were not only doing all Sunset staff described but also acting as leaders and mentors to staff. I hold many of my past Board members in the highest regard and am very appreciative of the opportunities they brought me to be a better public servant and individual.
Several recommendations go with the increase in the number of Board members including “modernizing” the Code’s conflict of interest provisions for individual serving as Board members. Staff recommends defining financial interest to mean 1 percent or more in an alcoholic beverage business. But is it really that simple and is this “modernizing”?
Current statute defines conflict as (1) any financial connection with a person engaged in the alcoholic beverage industry (2) holding stock or bonds in an alcoholic beverage industry and (3) having a pecuniary interest in the alcoholic beverage business, as well other provisions including, may not receive a commission or profit from or have an interest in the sale or purchase of alcoholic beverages. (See Section 5.05 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code)
My past experience says current qualifications have allowed many a wonderful and qualified member to serve and to serve without question of conflict. Yes, the statute could use a lot of “modernizing,” but of all the possible changes and need for “modernizing,” is this the one the Legislature should devote time?
Let us know your opinions in the comments below.