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Friday, July 31, 2009

Governor Perry signs bills that help Texas Veterans, 7-31

Gov. Rick Perry (photo) today ceremonially signed Senate bills (SB) 297 and 93, which significantly strengthens Texas' commitment to veterans and their families by enhancing their ability to apply their hard-earned educational benefits at Texas colleges and universities.

"Military service places unique demands on the men and women in uniform and their families, and as home to the second most active military duty families in the nation, Texas owes it to them to support their families and welcome them honorably when they return," Gov. Perry said.

"Last year, I called on the legislature to extend in-state tuition rates to eligible veterans, and Senate Bill 297 not only grants that request, but also extends that benefit to the spouses and children of our eligible veterans, and waives tuition completely for the children of Texas residents who have been deployed."

SB 297 provides in-state tuition for veterans who are eligible for federal education benefits, and to their spouses and children. The bill also provides a tuition exemption for dependent children whose parent is a Texas resident deployed on active duty overseas.

"Remembering our service members is more than just a moment of silence on Memorial Day, or the raising of a flag on Veteran's Day, it is an unwavering commitment to our veterans for their service to all of us," Sen. Leticia Van de Putte said.

"As chairwoman of the Veteran Affairs and Military Installations, I am honored to play a role in remembering their courage and sacrifice and will continue to search for innovative ways to assist our veterans and their families.

"SB 93 makes three important changes to the Hazelwood Act, which allows eligible veterans, their children and spouses to receive an exemption from the payment of tuition and most fees for up to for up to 150 semester credit hours of state-supported classes at colleges and universities.

"It allows the spouse of a service member who was killed in action, died while in service, is missing in action, whose death was caused by a service-connected illness or injury, or who became totally disabled for employment purposes as a result of a service-related injury to claim the Hazelwood Exemption.

"It creates the Hazelwood Legacy Act, requiring the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to allow veterans who are eligible for the Hazelwood Exemption to waive their rights to any unused portion of their maximum hours and transfer it to their child.

Rep. Joaquin Castro said, "SB 93 will ensure that all honorably discharged veterans and their dependents receive the education benefits that we have promised. I am proud to have been a part of this effort for Texas veterans, who sacrifice so much for this country."

"San Antonio has a strong history of support for both the military and higher education," Rep. Frank Corte Jr. said.

"It is a great honor to see these bills which will benefit our veterans in obtaining their education signed here at UTSA."

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