April 3, 2013 Comments are off Admin2

Chris Turner Passes Jobs Bill For Veterans, Active Duty Service Members & Reservists

Turner’s bill would waive residency requirement for U.S. military service members applying for commercial driver’s license

AUSTIN − State Representative Chris Turner (HD 101) announced today that the Texas House of Representatives has passed HB 860, a bill which would waive the residency requirement for service members applying for a commercial driver’s license. State Senator Wendy Davis has filed an identical bill, SB 229.

“This bill is an important step in bringing down the high unemployment rate that our veterans are facing right now,” said Turner. “What is an easy part of the application process for most, is extremely difficult if you are active duty or reserve, unexpectedly relocated to Texas, and need to get back to work as soon as possible. I’m proud to continue working with Senator Davis on such an important issue. This is small way we can continue to honor the service of these men and women.”

HB 860 is supported by Texas Veterans Coalition Organizations (TCVO) and the Texas Motor Transport Association (TMTA.)

“For these veterans who have been trained on and then operated sophisticated military vehicles of every description in combat theaters of operation, HB 860 recognizes these skills, and offers these newly minted veterans the opportunity  to more rapidly obtain a Commercial Driver’s License, exit the ranks of the unemployed and begin a new, well-paying career,” commented John Miterko, TCVO legislative liaison. “TCVO appreciates the efforts of Representative Turner, who has once again proven to be a true friend and staunch supporter of Texas Veterans.”

“TMTA applauds Representative Turner and the forethought of his peers on the passage of HB 860,” said TMTA President and CEO John D. Esparza  “Alleviating the unnecessary obstacles to new job opportunities for veterans is an honorable and needed action.  Employing our service men and women is a priority for Texas trucking, and with the abundance of available, high paying jobs in our industry, we look forward to growing military personnel opportunities in Texas.”

Turner & Van De Putte File Legislation to Address Hazlewood Funding

AUSTIN − State Representative Chris Turner (HD 101 – Grand Prairie) and state Senator Leticia Van de Putte (SD 26 – San Antonio) have filed identical measures aimed at addressing concerns raised by some Texas universities regarding the expense of Hazlewood, the state’s veteran higher education financial aid program. The legislation would allow schools to use “B-On-Time” funds that are not utilized at the institution at which they are collected to offset that school’s Hazlewood and Hazlewood Legacy tuition exemption programs.

“Hazlewood represents a solemn promise from the state of Texas to our veterans and their families and our legislation is aimed at keeping that promise,” Turner said. “By allowing our state’s colleges and universities to utilize unused B-On-Time funds that are currently being transferred back to the state to instead offset Hazlewood costs, we will strengthen our veterans benefits and help our colleges and universities.”

“The first and foremost consideration is that we help the 1% who defend our freedoms and have earned their Hazlewood benefits,” Senator Van de Putte said. “It makes sense to give schools the flexibility to utilize monies already appropriated for their campuses before looking at additional state dollars. This bill will help our universities do the right thing for our veterans and their families.”

HB 3265 (Turner) and SB 1543 (Van de Putte) would permit state institutions to retain unused tuition funds designated for the “B-On-Time” loan program. The unused funds will be used to cover the cost of Hazlewood and Hazlewood Legacy exemptions, as well as other financial aid programs at that university. These measures would ensure that leftover funds stay with the institution at which they were collected, rather than be sent to other institutions, as is the current practice.

March 1, 2013 Comments are off Admin2

Chris Turner Files New Measures to Help Texas Veterans, Service Members and Families

def-thumbBills 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.

Veterans

Chris has a proven record of leadership on veterans’ issues: he was the author of the bill that created the veterans scratch-off lottery ticket, which has raised more than $20 million for veterans’ assistance programs. He remains committed to working on and supporting legislation that honors the service and sacrifice our veterans.

Chris also authored and passed legislation requiring Texas colleges and universities to have a designated financial aid officer for veterans, so that returning service members are able to fully access the benefits they have earned under the new Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and the Texas Hazlewood Act. With more than 250,000 Texans who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last ten years, it is more important than ever that Texas have strong support systems in place so veterans – and their families – can take advantage of education and workforce opportunities.

Chris also authored and passed a law that would allow state employees to continue to accrue sick and vacation time when they deployed for active duty military service. He also wrote a measure that would allow the spouses of soldiers killed in the line of duty or 100% disabled as a result of their service to be eligible for Hazlewood educational benefits. This was added to a larger piece of legislation, passed and signed into law.

As a result of this work, and other measures benefiting veterans and their families, Chris has been repeatedly recognized by leading veterans’ organizations:

  • 2010 “Legislator of the Year,” Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars
  • 2010 “Legislator of the Year,” Vietnam Veterans of America, Texas State Council
  • 2009 “Freshman of the Year,” bi-partisan Legislative Veterans Caucus
  • 2009 recipient, Texas Veterans’ Commission Leadership Award
July 24, 2010 Comments are off Admin2

State Rep. Chris Turner Named Legislator of the Year by the Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars

First Freshman to Receive Prestigious Award

AUSTIN – Today State Representative Chris Turner was named “Legislator of the Year” by the Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). With over 90,000 members and 403 posts across the state, the Texas VFW is the largest veterans organization in the state. The award was presented during the opening joint session of the annual VFW state convention.

VFW_sq

According to the Texas VFW, Turner is the first freshman legislator to receive this award.

“Representative Chris Turner has been a staunch advocate for our state’s veterans and their families,” said Roy Grona, Texas VFW State Adjutant-Quartermaster. “Because of his work and leadership on veterans issues, more Texas veterans are getting the help they need and deserve.”

“I am incredibly honored and humbled by this recognition,” Turner said. “The Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars are the true heroes to the 1.7 million veterans in our state. I am proud of the work we did to pass the lottery scratch-off bill, which is benefitting countless veterans across the state of Texas.”

During the 81st Legislative Session, Representative Turner authored and passed several pieces of legislation benefitting veterans and their families. Most notably, Turner authored House Bill 1299, creating a scratch-off lottery ticket to benefit the Permanent Fund for Veterans’ Assistance (FVA). The FVA provides grants to aid veterans and their families in times of financial need and support PTSD counseling and other veterans’ services. The lottery ticket was released on November 9, 2009 and has raised over $5.5 million for the FVA.

Turner, who was named “Freshman of the Year” by the bipartisan House Veterans Caucus and given the “Leadership Award” from the Texas Veterans Commission and “Legislator of the Year” by the Vietnam Veterans of America, Texas State Council, also passed legislation requiring institutions of higher education to designate a financial aid specialist to be trained on issues related to veterans’ programs, including the GI Bill and the Hazelwood Act.

He was also the House sponsor of legislation to allow state employees, who are members of military reserves or National Guard, to continue to accrue their sick and vacation leave time while they are on active military duty.

State Senators Chris Harris and Wendy Davis and State Representative Chris Turner Purchase First Veterans Cash Lottery Scratch-Off Tickets

New $2 Ticket Will Provide Much Needed Funding for Veterans’ Programs

ARLINGTON – Today State Senators Chris Harris and Wendy Davis and State Representative Chris Turner were joined by fellow legislators and veterans’ leaders at a press conference as they purchased some of the first Veterans Cash Texas Lottery scratch-off tickets to go on sale. Stores across the state began selling the ticket Monday, November 9, and the game will be in full circulation by Wednesday, November 11, Veterans’ Day. The proceeds from the ticket will benefit the Permanent Fund for Veterans’ Assistance (FVA).

The FVA was created by Legislature in 2007 to aid those who served our nation in uniform, as well as their families. Since its creation, the fund has received very little financial assistance and as a result, organizations that aid veterans in need are having to look elsewhere for grants and funding sources.

“With the launch of this game today, we are saying ‘thank you’ to the men and women of our state who have risked so much in service to our nation,” said Rep. Turner, who pushed the Veterans Cash legislation through the House earlier this year. “The revenue from this game will provide meaningful funding for the Fund for Veterans’ Assistance to help provide grants for job placement services, health care costs and PTSD and TBI treatment for Texas veterans.”

“Texas is currently home to more than 1.7 million veterans who dedicated their lives and service in order to protect our freedoms,” said Senator Harris. “We, as Texans, owe these men and women as well as their families a great debt of gratitude. Veterans Cash will set up the stream of revenue enabling the Texas Veterans Commission, and all Texans, a way to say thank you for a job well done and welcome home.”

“I am thrilled to take part in the release of Veterans Cash which will create the greatly needed revenue source allowing Texas the ability to give back and take care of our returning veterans and their families, who have so selflessly given their service for our protection,” continued Harris.

“On behalf of veterans across the state, I cannot thank Senator Harris, Senator Van De Putte and Representative Turner enough for their hard work to pass the measure creating the Veterans Cash scratch-off and being tireless advocates for veterans and their families.” said John Miterko, Legislative Liaison, Texas Coalition of Veterans Organizations.

The Legislative Budget Board projects that the single scratch-off game will mean an economic impact for the Permanent Fund for Veterans’ Assistance in the amount of approximately $9 million during the first full year it is in circulation.

During the 81st Legislative Session, HB 1299 by State Representative Chris Turner and its Senate companion, SB 421 by Senators Van De Putte and Chris Harris, were filed to create the lottery scratch-off game. HB 1299 passed the House with only minutes to spare and was eventually added to Senator Van De Putte’s SB 1655. The passage of legislation to create this scratch-off ticket has been a top priority for veterans’ organizations across the State of Texas.

New lottery game to benefit Texas veterans

By AMY JOHNSTON | KVUE News | October 19, 2009


Click here to watch the video. About 1.7 million veterans live in Texas, but the state doesn’t have enough money to meet all their needs. Monday, a new way to raise money was announced, and the Legislature is gambling that a new lottery game will pay big.”

Monday, a new way to raise money was announced, and the Legislature is gambling that a new lottery game will pay big.

At the Zip’n in North Austin, the lottery is big business.

“Mostly we sell the $10 (or) $20 tickets,” said Salim Mardia.

Scratch-off tickets are especially popular — from one dollar up to $50, according to Mardia.

Now the Legislature is banking on that popularity to help Texas veterans. On Monday, they unveiled a new $2 lottery ticket called Veterans Cash. Part of the money goes back to the state’s Permanent Fund for Veteran’s Assistance.

“We could help more veterans with transportation assistance to hospitals. We could help fund PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) counseling services that are so crucial especially to many of our younger veterans. We could do more to reduce the shame of homeless veterans,” said State Rep. Chris Turner.

Ticket sales are expected to generate about $8 million in revenue in its first year. Here’s where money that will go: 65 percent to prizes; 5 percent to retail commission; 7 percent to administrative costs; that leaves 23 percent of sales — about 46 cents per ticket — for the Fund for Veteran’s Assistance.
(more…)

Chris Turner: Legislative Highlights (81st Legislature)

Giving Back to Texas  Veterans and Their Families

  • capitol1Because of his work on issues affecting veterans and their families, Turner was named the bi-partisan Legislative Veteran’s Caucus “Freshman of the Year.”
  • Given the “Leadership Award” by the Texas Veterans Commission.
  • Turner authored H.B. 1299 which will create one scratch off lottery ticket to provide an estimated $8 million annually for critical and emergency aid to Texas veterans through the Fund for Veterans Assistance. The bill passed the House and was ultimately amended to a Texas Veterans Commission bill.
  • Turner authored H.B. 1636 which ensures that all state employees who are called to active military duty are able to continue to accrue their vacation and sick time and do not lose these benefits because they were deployed. The bill was the House companion to Senator John Carona’s S.B. 833, which Turner sponsored.
  • Turner authored and passed H.B. 3951 requires state colleges and universities ensure a professional in their financial aid office is familiar with and trained on the major educational benefits available to veterans.
  • Turner authored H.B. 3952 extending the Hazelwood Act to the spouses of Texas military members who are killed in the line of duty or left completely disabled. Turner amended the measure to S.B. 93.
  • Turner added an amendment to H.B. 1935 which establishes the Jobs and Education for Texans Grant Program. The amendment will ensure that those organizations that have programs benefiting veterans will be given priority in the grants awarding process.

Fighting for Consumers and Small Business

  • For his efforts on behalf of consumers, Turner was named “Freshman of the Year” by the non-partisan pro-consumer organization, Texas Watch.
  • Turner authored H.B. 995 which passed the House Committee on State Affairs unanimously (15-0) and was later amended onto another House Bill. The legislation will require retail electric providers to give their customers at least 30 days written notice that their fixed price electric contract is expiring.
  • For his efforts on behalf of consumers, Turner was named “Freshman of the Year” by the non-partisan pro-consumer organization, Texas Watch.
  • Turner filed several pieces of legislation protecting homeowners from unfair practices by the insurance industry.

Improving Our Public Schools & Helping Texas Universities  Excel

  • Turner co-authored H.B. 3646, which will provide an additional $1.9 billion in school funding and increase the equity among school districts.
  • Turner co-authored H.B. 51, the “Tier One” bill, which opens the door for “emerging research universities,” such as the University of Texas at Arlington, to become a “Top Tier” research university.

Shielding Our Families from Sexual Predators

  • Turner authored H.B. 2396 will require sex offenders who claim to be homeless to register with their local law enforcement agency every 2 weeks. The bill was combined with an identical piece of legislation during the committee process and was signed into law by Governor Perry.
  • Turner authored and passed out of the House legislation requiring computer technicians to report the discovery of child pornography to law enforcement.  This measure had strong support from law enforcement, but unfortunately the bill died in the Senate.

Supporting Texas Businesses and Cutting Taxes

  • H.B. 1637 made improvements to the shared work unemployment compensation program, making it possible for many of our large manufacturers and other employers who operate on swing shifts to take advantage of this state program. Turner passed this bill on the first day the House considered legislation.
  • Turner co-authored H.B. 4765 which will exempt small businesses with less than $1 million of revenue from paying Texas franchise taxes.
  • Turner co-authored H.B. 831 which would exempt Chambers of Commerce from paying ad valorem taxes on property they owned and used for their primary functions.

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