Press Release
From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
April 26, 2007
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

Senate Approves Military Death Benefit Boost
Ellis legislation will increase death benefit payment to the families of Texas Guard members who have fallen fighting the war on terror

AUSTIN -- The Texas Senate today passed landmark legislation to honor Texas soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. The Senate approved SB 518, legislation by Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) which will dramatically increase the state death benefit payment to the families of Texas Guard members who have been lost fighting the war on terror overseas and along the border.

Senate Bill 518 increases the state benefit from approximately $21,000 to $250,000. It gives the Adjutant General's Department authority to administer a $250,000 payment over two years to the surviving spouses, children and parents of fallen guard members. The $250,000 state benefit is in addition to the federal death benefit.

"These brave men and women have made a sacrifice for their families, their state and their country that we can never repay," said Ellis. "But we can do more to honor their memory and help their families rebuild their lives by providing a stronger financial commitment. This bill allows the State of Texas to express its gratitude for the sacrifice paid by fellow Texans who die in the line of duty to protect our freedom."

Across the nation, states are stepping forward to provide the families of these fallen heroes with a greater level of financial security. According to National Conference of State Legislatures, in the last year the following states have considered these benefits: KS ($250,000); KY ($80,000); VT ($50,000); IN ($150,000); MA ($100,000); NJ ($250,000); PA (retroactivity); TN ($100,000); OH ($100,000); IA ($250,000). Senate Bill 518 would put Texas at the forefront of this movement.

"Today's vote is a very important statement," said Ellis. "It is one thing to pay lip service to supporting our troops and their families. It is another thing to ensure we provide those families who have had to bear the most tragic and painful costs, the foundation to move forward. That is what we have done today and I am proud to have played a role in this effort."