Van de Putte authors Veteran Employment and Business Opportunity Act
(Austin) — On Wednesday, the Texas Senate Veteran Affairs and Military Installations (VAMI) Committee will hold a hearing on Senate Bill 10, the Veteran Employment and Business Opportunity Act, authored by Chairwoman Leticia Van de Putte (District 26, Bexar County).
The act consists of three distinct sections that are designed to improve the business opportunities of veterans through (1) employment at state agencies, (2) purchasing and contracting with state agencies, and (3) removing the "demonstration" status of the College Credit for Heroes program.
"Unemployment among our veterans is much too high," Sen. Van de Putte said. "After our warriors fight for our freedom abroad, they should not have to then fight for a job back home.
"While policymakers can encourage private employers to hire veterans, we can do more than that with our state agencies," Van de Putte continued. "Given the fantastic skill sets that veterans bring with them as they exit the military, it just makes sense for the state to actively recruit and hire from this talent pool that is ready, proven, and eager to work."
Lt. Governor David Dewhurst is supportive of the legislation.
"Lt. Gov. Dewhurst has always made veterans a priority and continues his leadership through this legislation," Van de Putte said. "As a businessman and veteran, he knows firsthand the entrepreneurial spirit of our returning heroes."
"The Texas Coalition of Veterans Organizations is always appreciative of efforts to create opportunities for Veterans as they transition back to civilian employment," said Jim Brennan of the Texas Coalition of Veterans Organizations and a disabled veteran who owns AAUSA Electric Supply, Inc. "SB 10 will have a positive impact on our efforts to reduce the number of unemployed veterans in Texas. Thanks to Senator Van de Putte for her continued support of our veterans."
Among the SB 10's provisions:
Employment — The Comptroller's Office produces an annual report detailing the number of veteran employees at all state agencies. For 2012, just 5 percent of all state employees were veterans, compared to nearly 20 percent of federal employees. SB 10 allows direct hiring of veterans by agencies through the Texas Workforce Commission's automated system, requires agencies to have at least 25% of their interview pool be veterans, and requires agencies with more than 500 FTEs to have a designated Veteran Liaison.
State Purchasing — Increases ability for disabled veteran-owned businesses to compete for state contracts by including disabled veteran owned businesses in those eligible for contracting with the Texas Council on Purchasing From People With Disabilities.
College Credit for Heroes — Currently a "demonstration" operated by the Texas Workforce Commission, the Act makes College Credit for Heroes permanent, helping to ensure that veterans will have an expedited path to civilian professional certifications by maximizing college credit received as a result of military training and experience.
The Texas Senate Veteran Affairs & Military Installations Committee will meet at 1:30pm (or if the Senate session runs late, upon adjournment) in the Betty King Committee Room (Room 2E.20) on Wednesday, March 20.