FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 23, 2021
AUSTIN, TX – This week, Texas State Sen. Beverly Powell (SD-10) laid out fours bills in the Texas Senate Veteran Affairs and Border Security Committee aimed at protecting and promoting veterans and Texas military communities. Two bills presented by Sen. Powell, Senate Bill 337 and House Bill 139, promote veteran job creation and economic empowerment. Senate Bill 149 protects military bases and major airports from unmanned aircraft and drone encroachments. Finally, Powell presented legislation urging the United States Congress to fully fund the Future Vertical Lift program which would create the next generation of rotorcraft technology for the armed forces and create tens of thousands of good paying jobs.
POWELL’S MILITARY AND VETERAN SUPPORT PACKAGE BACKGROUND
VETERAN ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT
Helmets to Hardhats, a national organization dedicated to creating constriction industry opportunities for veterans transitioning to civilian life praised Sen. Powell’s legislation (SB337) which would create a grant program within the Texas Workforce Commission to provide funds to non-profit organizations to recruit and assist veterans into apprenticeship training programs. Helmets to Hardhats wrote that the bill would allow them to hire Texas dedicated staff to potentially assist nearly 1,000 transitioning service members registered with the organization who plan to stay in Texas or return to Texas following their service.
House Bill 139, sponsored by Sen Powell, streamlines and expedites the process of obtaining an occupational license for military spouses as they move from state to state. The bill will help foster economic opportunities for military spouses and make Texas the best state to call home for military families. The bill has received broad support from military organizations such as the VFW and Texas Mayors of Military Communities.
PROTECTING MILITARY COMMUNITIES
Senate Bill 149 is a refiled version of last session’s Senate Bill 2299 to protect military bases from unmanned aircrafts and drones that pose a threat to critical military equipment and national security. In a Fort Worth Star-Telegram feature (https://www.star-telegram.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article229391799.html) from 2019, Navy Capt. Jonathan R. Townsend was quoted about a drone incursion at NRS-JRB where, according to the Captain, the drone was in “a sort of surveillance mode” over a sensitive part of the military base. The Captain continued by saying “This was the first occasion where the issue of intent came into question in my mind...Was it a recreational drone operator or was it somebody who had some other potential ill intent for my installation”.
BOLSTERING TEXAS’ DEFENSE INDUSTRY
The Future Vertical Lift Program is a research and development effort to provide the next generation of rotorcraft technology to the armed forces which would improve range, speed and survivability of aircrafts The program would provide state-of-the-art aircrafts to the military and would create over 20,000 jobs and $151 billion in economic activity from Bell Helicopter’s Future Vertical Lift’s expenditures alone. Senator Powell’s Senate Concurrent Resolution 4 calls on the United States Congress to fully fund the Future Vertical Lift Program.