Over 1,250 bills became law following the 88th regular legislative session, which ended May 29. According to the Texas Restaurant Association, several of those bills will benefit restaurant owners and food service workers.

Senate Bill 577, by Sen. Drew Springer, R-Muenster

Historically, restaurant owners across Texas have paid the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission for their alcohol permits, then paid an additional alcohol fee and a general permit fee to local governments. The new law prohibits local governments from charging alcohol fees, as they do not issue the permits, according to Kelsey Erickson Streufert, the chief public affairs officer for the Texas Restaurant Association.

“These fees can be hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars,” Streufert told Texas restaurant owners during a virtual town hall Sept. 27. “[We're] saving you about $1,000 depending on which type of permit you have and where you're located. That's money you can immediately reinvest into your business and your workforce.”

Additionally, local governments cannot charge duplicate fees for state-approved food manager certifications.

The law also prevents local governments and the state health department from restricting or banning the packaging, utensils and straws food service businesses provide to their customers, such as single-use plastics, styrofoam containers and more.

Status: Became law Sept. 1

Senate Bill 812, by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo

This law requires restaurant owners to display in employee areas a poster about food allergens, including information about preventing and responding to allergic reactions. Streufert said the Texas Department of State Health Services will release a poster.

“The number of people in America with a serious food allergy continues to increase at a pretty alarming rate,” Streufert said. “So it's really a safety issue and a liability issue that restaurants have to be cognizant of.”

Additionally, all food handler and food manager courses must include key information about food allergens. All food service establishments must meet these requirements by Sept. 1, 2024.

Status: Became law Sept. 1

House Bill 1809, by Rep. Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi

A new commercial oyster mariculture (marine farming) advisory board will be established within the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. All seven board members will be appointed by the governor, including four industry representatives and three scientific representatives.

“Oyster farming has amazing environmental benefits for our coasts and also has great economic benefits—it’s another product that Texas restaurants can sell that is created right here in Texas and sold right here in Texas,” Streufert said. “[It’s] exciting to see a new industry that does so much good for our state.”

Status: Became law May 27

Senate Bill 1932, by Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe

Restaurants can now purchase vintage wines directly from private wine collection sellers. The wines, which must be at least 20 years old and sealed in their original containers, can then be sold to consumers at the restaurant.

“So much of the restaurant experience is providing something unique to a consumer that they can't get in other places,” Streufert said. “This is an exciting opportunity for restaurants that are sort of in the wine business.”

Status: Became law Sept. 1

House Bill 3323, by Rep. Vikki Goodwin, D-Austin

This law creates a new food security office within the Texas Department of Agriculture. The office and an appointed council are tasked with developing a food system security plan to “facilitate the resilience and availability of food in this state,” according to the bill text.

Status: Became law Sept. 1