After series of scandals, Texas liquor agency pursues reforms

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Last summer we covered the series of scandals that rocked the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. Now, fast forward to 2018, and the agency is debuting new leadership and a revamped approach to regulation, according to the Texas Tribune:

Five years ago the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission spent more than $10,000 in taxpayer money to send four employees to Honolulu to attend a national liquor conference — complete with open bar, golf tournament and a “luau under the stars.” 

This summer, the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators is again holding its annual meeting in Hawaii — Waikoloa Beach to be exact — but there won’t be an official delegation from the TABC. In fact, the state’s alcohol regulators won’t be sending anyone to any liquor conferences outside Texas anytime soon.

The agency got its out-of-state travel privileges yanked last year by a Legislature angered over spending controversies and regulatory excesses, exposed in a series of investigative reports published by The Texas Tribune. When the smoke cleared, seven top agency honchos were gone and the TABC board had hired a retired Army general, Bentley Nettles, to clean up the mess...

Now, nearly a year later, even some of the TABC’s most vociferous critics say a wholesale change in leadership has produced a reformed agency that no longer triggers fear and loathing at the very mention of its name.

“The transformation that has taken place already under General Nettles’ leadership is hard to overstate,” Texas Craft Brewers Guild Chairman Josh Hare said in a thank-you note to Gov. Greg Abbott. “We have seen nothing other than a hard shift toward a business and consumer-friendly approach to business.”...

Read the whole article here.