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Newsletter: Supporting our Veterans

Earlier this month, hundreds of new laws that the Legislature passed this year went into effect. I have discussed some of the most important measures in previous emails. But few of the laws passed this year are as important or as meaningful as the action we took to support our Veterans.

All of us from Military City USA understand both the sacrifice our Veterans have made and the impact that they continue to have. The Texas House has consistently made honoring our Veterans a priority, and those efforts certainly continued during this year’s session. The House acted to support Texas Veterans by:

Providing preventative and mental health services. House Bill 19 established a preventive services pilot program to serve Veterans and military families. In addition, Senate Bill 55 creates a grant program to support community mental health services for Veterans and their families.

Establishing a Texas Women Veterans Program. House Bill 897 sets up the Women Veteran Program in order to help navigate some of the unique challenges that women face as they transition from military service back to their families and the workplace. More female Veterans live here in Bexar County than in any other county in the state.

Reducing the tax burden on those who served and their families. Senate Bill 1049 provides an exemption from the franchise tax and some filing fees for businesses owned by Veterans during an initial period of operation. The House also passed a proposed constitutional amendment making it easier for the surviving spouse of a totally disabled Veteran to access a property-tax exemption. This proposed amendment will be on the ballot for voter approval this November.

Helping Veterans transition into the workplace. Senate Bill 807 directs state agencies that issue occupational licenses to waive application and examination fees for qualifying service members, Veterans and military spouses.

Supporting military and defense communities. The Legislature allotted $30 million for Governor Abbott’s Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant Program, which helps defense communities that have been positively or negatively impacted by a change in defense contracts. Funding can also be used proactively to support installations in the event of a change or announced change by the Department of Defense.

As we begin to look toward the 2017 session, the House will remain committed to supporting and helping our Veterans. If you have questions about the Legislature’s work on Veterans’ issues, or if you want to suggest issues for further study before the next session begins, please email me at joe@joestraus.org.

Finally, I will say it again because it cannot be said enough: Thank you to all of our Veterans, both for your service to our country and for the remarkable contribution to our state that you make every day.