Senator Jane Nelson
P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
Fax (512) 463-0923

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 10, 2003
Contact: Dave Nelson
(512) 463-0112

OP-ED ARTICLE
Supporting the Troops on the Homefront

The Stars and Stripes are big and bright deep in the heart of Texas.

That was the message held proudly by a little girl and her parents on the grounds of our state Capitol -- one family standing united in support for our troops opposite the group of antiwar protesters who are ever present these days along Congress Avenue.

Here at the Texas Capitol, we all have the right to express ourselves. The people of Iraq may soon enjoy the same freedom. But while our military is in harm's way, we have a responsibility to support our troops and protect their interests at home.

Already, several pieces of legislation have been filed on behalf of our service men and women. One of them -- SB 174 -- has already passed the Senate and is under consideration in the House.

I filed this bill to allow those on active duty to defer without penalty their property tax payments until after their tour of duty is complete. This is the least we can do to accommodate our fighting men and women. They need to keep their focus on the job at hand and on coming home safely to their families -- not worrying about the due date on their property tax bills.

In our Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs & Military Installations, similar pieces of legislation are under consideration to ensure that Texans fighting abroad have a proper homecoming when their mission is complete.

There are bills filed to ensure that jobs are protected. Another bill grants an exception to the Texas Academic Skills Program test to ensure that none of our troops are delayed in their pursuit of a college degree. They may seem like small details, but they are important in the lives of our Texas sons and daughters.

You may remember a California judge recently ordered school districts in that state to stop reciting the pledge. This was the wrong message to send our young people. We want to teach our school children to respect the flag, the Constitution and all the symbols of what makes America so great.

The Texas Senate has passed legislation to require that every school day begin with the Pledge of Allegiance and a moment of silence in order that they might reflect on the gift of freedom.

It is a lesson that little girl holding her poster already understood. And her message was received loud and clear both inside the Capitol and out. The Stars and Stripes are indeed big and bright deep in the heart of Texas.

Senator Jane Nelson represents District 12, which includes the growing suburban communities of Denton and Tarrant counties and parts of the city of Fort Worth. She is Chairman of the Sunset Advisory Commission, which is overseeing the Sunset review of the Texas Department of Economic Development.

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