Dale Szyndrowski, Distilled Spirits Council lobbyist and Texas resident, noted in his testimony that relegating spirits RTDs to liquor stores only when other alcohol products with the exact same alcohol content are allowed in grocery and convenience stores puts these products and spirits consumers at an extreme disadvantage in Texas.
“Spirits RTDs are only available in 10% of the number of outlets where similar malt- and wine-based RTDs are sold even though they have the same alcohol content,” Szyndrowski testified. “That is anti-free market and anti-Texas values. Further, it puts Texas behind much of the country with 29 states already allowing spirits RTDs to be sold in grocery and convenience stores.”
During his testimony, Szydrowkski showed three products to the committee: a sugar-based RTD at 8% ABV; a malt-based RTD at 5% ABV; and a spirits-based RTD at 4.5% ABV. He then pointed out that the product with the least amount of alcohol was the only one prohibited from being sold in grocery and convenience stores.
“Remember, alcohol is alcohol,” Szyndrowski said. “It makes no difference if it is made from fermented sugar, malted barley, wine or grain spirits. It’s not the type of alcohol you drink, simply how much alcohol you drink.”
In his testimony, Szyndrowski also hit back on opponents of the legislation. “HB 2200 is about allowing the free market to work and giving consumers equal access to similar products,” Szyndrowski said. “The organizations that oppose this bill oppose it simply to keep out competition, to restrict consumer access and to give their business model a government-protected, competitive advantage.”
The proposed bill, introduced by Rep. Justin Holland, would allow spirits-based RTDs with no greater than 17% alcohol-by-volume (ABV) to be sold where similar beer and wine products are already sold in Texas, including grocery and convenience stores. Companion legislation, SB 1288, has also been introduced by Sen. Kelly Hancock.