Protests of Original or Renewal TABC Applications

Who can protest a TABC application?

Before March 14, 2018, anyone could file a protest against an application for a TABC license or permit for any reason, and the TABC would set the matter for hearing with the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH). However, on March 14, 2018 the TABC substantially limited the circumstances in which an application can be protested through its order in Tex. Alcoholic Beverage Comm’n, Renewal Application of Core-Mark Midcontinent, Inc.. 

In its order granting Core-Mark’s renewal permit after one of Core-Mark’s competitors protested its renewal application, the TABC stated:

“The Code (referring to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code) does not give a member of the general public the right, either an individual or a company, the right to protest all applications for licenses or permits. Instead, the Code provides for discrete circumstances when the public can file a protest. . .” 

After this change in position, the Texas legislature implemented changes to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code specifying which members of the public and/or government officials are eligible to protest original and renewal TABC applications. 

The following government officials are eligible to protest TABC applications in areas they represent:

  • State senator
  • State representative 
  • Mayor
  • City council member
  • County commissioner
  • County judge
  • Chief of police
  • City marshal
  • City attorney
  • County sheriff
  • County or district attorney

A member of the public is eligible to protest an application in the following circumstances:

  • If the member of the public lives within 300ft of the property line of the address where the TABC Permit is sought, an original or renewal application for a Mixed Beverage Permit (MB), Private Club Permit (N), Retail Dealer’s On-Premise License (BE), or a Wine and Malt Beverage Retailer’s Permit (BG).

If an eligible person protests a TABC application, will a hearing automatically be set with the SOAH? 

Not necessarily. After a protest is filed by an eligible person, the TABC conducts its own investigation and evaluates the circumstances surrounding the protest. 

If the TABC determines that no reasonable grounds exist for the protest, it will issue the TABC permit without a hearing over the protest. 

On the other hand, if the TABC determines that there are reasonable grounds for the protest, the TABC will refer the matter to SOAH for a hearing before an administrative law judge.


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