DALLAS (1080 KRLD) - Texas' Committee to Support the Military has made thirteen recommendations to state lawmakers in an effort to strengthen Texas' relationship with bases and service members.
Governor Greg Abbott formed the committee in September.
The committee is made up of 22 veterans, business and community leaders and was instructed to make recommendations for lawmakers to consider during this session. The committee was formed to look at how to enhance the value of existing bases and how Texas can avoid closures.
The committee looked at options to make Texas more attractive for military missions and how civilian infrastructure can compliment the military. The committee has also been looking at criteria used to identify bases affected by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission in 2005 to identify ways to avoid closures.
The governor's office says the committee also looked at ways to balance the needs of the military with the rights of private landowners.
The committee made 13 recommendations:
1. Licensure/Certification Transfer and Acceptance for Military Spouses and Teacher Certifications: Streamline the process for all professional licenses and certifications through comprehensive licensing and certification reform.
2. Early Enrollment in School for Children of Service Members: Change current law to allow for advance enrollment of a child who is a dependent of a member of the military upon receipt of valid military orders assigning them to a nearby military installation.
3. TEA Military Webpage: TEA should prominently display a link to its Military Family Resources page on its homepage and be incorporated into any type of central online repository for military families.
4. Military Child Education Coalition: Add the current $500,000 biennium funding for the Military Child Education Coalition to TEA’s base appropriation request.
5. Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC): Work with federal partners to encourage data sharing between the Defense Manpower Data Center and the Texas Education Agency.
6. Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children: Amend Chapter 162 of the Texas Education Code to allow for the establishment of a state council for the Military Compact and incorporate input from military families and best practices from other states in determining who should be a member of the council.
7. Connecting Veterans and Active Duty Personnel to Services: TXServes should be expanded in communities across the state to achieve as much coverage as possible utilizing their web-based case management system. Such a system would help make Texas a national model for service delivery to our military members, military families, and veterans.
8. Mitigate the Impact of Lost Property Tax Revenue Due to the Disabled Veterans Residence Homestead Exemption: Eligibility for this program should expand to include counties with a military installation, the cities in that county, and cities in an adjacent county so as to provide reimbursement for cities near the installation, but not contiguous to the installation. The Legislature should also fully fund the program to allow for eligible cities to be reimbursed for 100% of lost revenue.
9. Encourage Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Certification and Degree Programs: Implement several incentives and directives to invest in programs and working groups that address rapidly changing workforce demands.
10. Create a Central Online Repository for Information Related to Military Families: Create a central online repository for information that is specific to the military and their families. This should include but is not limited to information related to any assistance, waivers, and programs the state provides as it relates to occupational and professional licenses, education, and healthcare.
11. Interagency Contracts between TXDOT and the Military: Legislative changes should be enacted which allow for TxDOT to enter into interagency agreements or contracts with military installations for the maintenance, improvement, relocation, or extension of existing roads. These services should be paid for with federal funds.
12. Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant (DEAAG) Program: Fully fund the DEAAG program to help protect military installations in Texas from potential negative impacts of BRAC.
13. Encroachment on Military Training: Legislation or policy changes should be considered which strengthens the state’s protections against encroachment, including commercial development. This includes adding prohibitions against 313 subsidies that may impact rotary-wing aviation training areas and military training routes located outside military installation boundaries.