The Texas Craft Brewing Industry produces $4.54B in economic impact. Still, Texas only ranks 46th among the states in number of breweries per capita. As craft beer grows across the country, and other states make productive legislative reforms to grow their brewing industries, Texas brewers are left trying to compete with antiquated, restrictive laws.
Background on Craft Beer Policy In 2017, after being sold a false bill of goods by beer wholesalers, the Legislature enacted HB 3287. This legislation effectively reinvented part of Texas’s already overdone beer regulatory structure by creating a new dimension of absurdity inside of it: in the case of the most logical investments and mergers, it penalized the flow of capital from one business to another. In less than a year, specific outcomes of this legislation are already manifest. Active deals have been scuttled, expansion plans curtailed and it has forced some breweries to lay off employees and put off new hires. And, as advertised, it had the real effect of destroying millions of dollars from independent craft brewery valuations the day it became law.
To prepare for the 2019 Texas Legislative session, craft breweries around Texas are seeking to highlight campaign contributions from beer wholesalers, and compare that to public support for craft beer-friendly legislation. The goal is to make the case that legislators should listen to their constituents rather than beer wholesaler contributions when voting on bills that will impact the craft beer industry. The barrier is that campaign contribution data in Texas isn’t optimized for easy access, which prevents the public from understanding what entities may be influencing the voting patterns of their elected representatives. Our project seeks to lower these barriers and increase transparency around campaign contributions in Texas.
Create a user-friendly queryable database and dashboards from Texas Ethics Commission campaign contribution data so the public and interested organizations can easily access and analyze this public information.
Strategy Using data from the Texas Ethics Commission’s Campaign Finance Reports and volunteer resources at the 2018 Houston Hackathon, we began analyzing the data, designed a project framework, and created various proof-of-concept databases and dashboards. We worked on two different storage solutions (MS SQL and Postgres), and ended up using both to explore and analyze the data with Tableau.
Leveraging guidance from the Texas Ethics Commission’s engineers and resources from other partner organizations, we will continue to refine the database and dashboards into a final product.