Local Option Alcohol Election

Community Enhancement / Business Climate / Local Option Alcohol Election

Restaurant and Beverage Alliance of Texas

Helping Round Rock Create One Set of Rules for All

The chamber has launched a petition-campaign effort seeking city voters to support balancing the alcohol sales rules for all areas in the City of Round Rock. The beginning of that initiative is asking City of Round Rock-registered voters to sign a petition calling for an election in November 2018. The petition will allow a vote for the legal sale of all alcoholic beverages including mixed beverages.  For a recent press release with more details, click here.

This is an economic and business climate fairness issue. Over time, these patchwork set of laws are hurting our current businesses and keeping us from realizing our full potential. Approximately 80 percent of the city allows for maximum flexibility when it comes to the sale of alcoholic beverages, while the remaining areas have arbitrary limitations. (Click here for a map of the Round Rock designations).

Please help us by signing the petition if you are a City of Round Rock-registered voter. Petition forms are available at the chamber office. You can also assist us by allowing the petition officials to come to your business to garner signatures and/or notifying your colleagues and neighbors about this issue. The chamber vigorously supports a free-market system. The inequities of uneven laws fly in the face of that belief. Please help us make the alcohol laws equal for everyone.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Restaurant & Beverage Alliance of Texas and how are they connected to Round Rock?

The Restaurant & Beverage Alliance of Texas is a state-regulated general purpose political action committee. They work with businesses, chambers of commerce, and private citizens to change the alcohol sales laws to benefit the citizens and communities who want to expand choices or create uniform sales rules. They are currently working with the Round Rock Chamber to have an election to create one set of alcohol sales rules throughout the city.

Who is eligible to sign the petition?

Since this effort is for a city-wide election, only City of Round Rock-registered voters can sign the petition. Those who live in municipal utility districts (MUD) or the extraterrestrial jurisdiction (ETJ) are not eligible to sign the petition. Use CityView to search an address to find out if it is within the city limits.

Where can I sign the petition?

We have professionals going door-to-door asking residents to sign the petition.  There are also forms available in our office at 212 E. Main Street, Round Rock.  In addition, if you provide us with an address of your residence or place of business, we can arrange for someone to come to you with the petition.

Why is this change in the law needed?

After Prohibition, there have been more than twenty-two local option efforts including three that affected the City of Round Rock and surrounding areas. In 1983, Round Rock voters approved all alcohol sales that covered what was inside the city limits at that time. In 1987, the same version was approved in the justice of the peace precinct that took in areas north and west. The last election in 2002 within the city limits approved alcohol sales in restaurants. Since these elections, the city has annexed more land, but the “wet-dry” status that was in effect prior to annexation remains in force. In order to have the rules apply to all of Round Rock, state law requires the election to be held in the current boundaries of the city.

Why are we being asked to sign a petition?

State law requires that in order to have an election in November, and the signatures of nearly 7,000 City of Round Rock registered voters must be gathered to call for the election. Once enough signatures have been gathered, the Round Rock City Council will put the issue on the ballot for all voters to decide.

Why doesn’t the City Council just amend the city ordinance? Why do we need to force a voter referendum with so many signatures just to get the issue on the ballot?

The Texas local option liquor election law requires a specific process for changing alcohol laws. Although Texas laws controlling the sale of liquor date back to the founding of the Republic following independence from Mexico, local option law in its current form has been largely unchanged since Article XVI, Section 20 of the Constitution was adopted in 1891.

Will this law allow bars into neighborhoods or next to schools and churches?

No. This law would not override existing city ordinances, city zoning, deed restrictions, or HOA guidelines.

Are there additional costs for some businesses due to the current laws?

Yes. According to the Texas Restaurant Association, businesses that must comply with the bureaucratic red tape and bookkeeping requirements for private clubs can have an added cost burden of as much as $20,000 per year. This does not create one job or generate any sales tax revenue for the city or county. And not all businesses pay the same to operate. Changing the law will allow a locally owned restaurant to compete on a level playing field with all other restaurants.

How will adopting this law be different than other elections?

Most of Round Rock has already adopted this version in 1983 and 1987. By adopting this version and allowing the legal sale of all alcoholic beverages including mixed beverages across the entire city, everyone will be under the same law as what has been in effect for more than thirty-five years.

Does it really cost restaurants and bars to be a “private club”?

Yes. According to the Texas Restaurant Association, it can cost a business more than $20,000 per year to comply with the bureaucratic requirements and Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission rules of a private club. These monies do not create any jobs nor tax revenue for the local community.

Are there studies that show when people drive shorter distances to purchase alcohol it saves lives?

Yes. In 2001, a study of nearly 100 Texas communities that voted to transition from “dry” to “wet” stated that “the sale of alcohol may actually decrease expected accidents…  Apparently, the effect on alcohol related accidents of consumers driving shorter distances more than offsets the effect of any increase in consumption… and access to alcohol is estimated to reduce the expected number of annual accidents by a substantial and statistically significant decrease from the average (number of accidents) per year.”

From 2003 to 2016, while Texas gained over 5.8 million in population and over 533 communities approved local alcohol sales, the number of alcohol related highway fatalities decreased 5 percent over the number of fatalities in 2003.

Past Elections Creating Wet Status

1983 – City of Round Rock – All alcohol including mixed beverages

1987 – Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 – All alcohol including mixed beverages

2002 – Justice of the Peace Precinct 1 – Restaurant sales