Unshackling Texas’ Economy

30 Dec 2020


After decades of wrangling, Texas changed its laws to allow small-time brewers to sell beer directly to customers in 2013, punching a hole in a system that had given exclusive distribution rights to wholesalers and retailers. The brewers could only serve beer in their taprooms until 2019, when another law expanded their right to sell for off-premise consumption. 

The beer industry still sells its lagers and stouts under the state’s thumb, but these small law changes created opportunities for small-scale entrepreneurs and gave beer drinkers more variety. Beer isn’t an anomaly. Despite all its free-market bravado and plaudits for being business-friendly, Texas still imposes many restrictions on conducting business within state borders. 

Don’t take our word for it. The State RegData project at George Mason University’s Mercatus Center ranked Texas fifth-worst among states in total restrictions in 2020. Low taxes and right-to-work laws may give Texas free-market street cred. But when it comes to regulation, the state ranks closer to highly restrictive California and New York than lightly regulated Idaho and South Dakota (see chart). 

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