Gov. Rick Perry today observed Memorial Day by signing Senate Bill 163, House Bill 97, Senate Bill 1476 and House Bill 1514, which provide important resources and support to veterans and surviving spouses of members of the military who have been killed in action.
"Every day, American service members sacrifice their lives for the freedoms we cherish, and it is appropriate that on this day of remembrance and thanks that we would strengthen our commitment to our veterans and military families," Gov. Perry said. "Though no words or actions can heal the wounds of combat or return a lost loved one, Texas is honored to give back to veterans and their families."
Senate Bill 163, authored by Sen. Leticia Van de Putte and sponsored by Rep. Chris Turner, grants a total property tax exemption to the surviving spouse of a member of the military killed in action. The spouse may transfer the actual dollar amount of the exemption to new property, as long as they have not remarried. The exemption is contingent upon voter approval of the related constitutional amendment, HJR 62.
"Families who have lost a service member have given enough to our nation," Sen. Van de Putte said. "They should not be further burdened by property taxes on their homes. We can never fully repay these families for what they have given to our nation, but hopefully these tax exemptions will make their lives easier."
House Bill 97, authored by Rep. Charles Perry and sponsored by Sen. Van de Putte, grants a partial property tax exemption to veterans who are partially disabled and have had a home donated to them by a charitable organization. A veteran's surviving spouse would be allowed to continue to claim the exemption if they have not remarried and may transfer the actual dollar amount of the exemption to a new property.
"This legislation removes barriers communities and organizations face when helping out our disabled veterans by taking away the tax burden associated with the gift of a home," Rep. Charles Perry said. "It is important to remember that at a time when most people are pursuing life, liberty and happiness by developing careers and businesses, attending college and obtaining the American dream of home ownership, our service men and women are defending the freedom that allows that very pursuit. They are sacrificing on the battlefields rather than building their own futures. HB 97 begins the process of healing and allows our veterans to focus on their dreams, career and family without the worry of losing their home."
Senate Bill 1476, authored by Sen. Royce West and sponsored by Rep. Ralph Sheffield, lays the foundation to create a veteran entrepreneur program to help veterans better understand the resources and services available from federal and state agencies by providing seminars, conferences and workshops.
"The entrepreneurial spirit and business friendly environment that Texas prides itself on is evident in the passage of SB 1476," Rep. Sheffield said. "The bill will directly impact the nearly 1.7 million veterans residing in Texas. I am proud to have carried this legislation, which will support and encourage our most honorable and distinguished residents of Texas who answered the call to serve."
House Bill 1514, authored by Rep. Donna Howard and sponsored by Sen. Donna Campbell, provides World War II veterans with veteran plates that allow them to receive privileged parking benefits. These benefits include using most parking meters free of charge and better access to handicap parking spaces. Currently these benefits are only extended to certain veterans and recipients of military awards, such as the Purple Heart and Congressional Medal of Honor.
"HB 1514 is a way of giving back to those who served to protect our freedom during World War II," Sen. Campbell said. "We will always be indebted to these heroes and it was an honor to see Governor Perry sign this bill into law on Memorial Day."