Bills would expand job opportunities, boost assistance fund and help surviving spouses
AUSTIN − State Representative Chris Turner (HD 101) has filed six measures to aid veterans, service members and their families. Turner's veterans' package covers several areas, addressing veteran unemployment, providing an additional funding source for the Permanent Fund for Veterans' Assistance and exempting spouses of service members killed in the line of duty from paying property taxes on their home.
"Since my first term, I have been incredibly fortunate to work on initiatives to honor the service and sacrifice of our service members, veterans and their families," said Turner. "With unacceptably high veteran unemployment rates, many of the bills I have filed this session focus on helping service members and veterans get good-paying jobs that capitalize on the skills they attained during their time in uniform.
"We must also never forget the spouses of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation," continued Turner, "which is why I filed a measure to exempt the spouses of service members killed in the line of duty from paying property taxes on their homes, the same benefit we currently extend to 100 percent disabled veterans and their surviving spouses. It's one small way that we can honor those who died defending our country and provide crucial economic help to their families."
Turner's veterans' legislative package includes:
• HB 548: gives a property tax exemption to surviving spouses of service members killed in action
• HJR 62: adds an amendment to the Texas Constitution allowing the property tax exemption for surviving spouses of service members killed in action
• HB 860: waives the residency requirement for active duty service members and reservists when obtaining a commercial driver's license
• HB 2027: guarantees $5 million in funding for veterans services by transferring unclaimed prize money from the Texas Lottery Commission to the Permanent Fund for Veterans Assistance
• HB 2028: allows veterans to apply certain military experience as a basis for obtaining a plumber's license
• HB 2029: allows veterans to apply certain military experience as a basis for obtaining an electrician's license
During his first term during the 81st Legislative Session, Turner authored legislation that created the "Veterans Cash" lottery scratch-off game. Since the game's November 2009 launch, it has generated $26.9 million to provide services to veterans and their families including, but not limited to, counseling for PTSD and traumatic brain injury, transportation to VA medical facilities, housing assistance, and family and child counseling.
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