From the Office of State Senator Troy Fraser
For Immediate Release
February 19, 1999
Contact: William A. Scott - (512) 463-0124
FRASER UNVEILS MILITARY LEGISLATION PACKAGE
BROWNWOOD -- Senator Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, today unveiled a three-bill package of military-related legislation to assess the condition of the state's strategic deployment routes and highways, attract more defense-related industry to Texas, and exempt active duty military personnel from college educational testing requirements.
Fraser, a member of the Senate's Veterans Affairs and Military Installations Committee, made the announcement in Brownwood. Senate District 24, which Fraser represents, contains both Fort Hood, near Killeen, and Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene.
Fraser outlined the bills as follows:
Senate Bill 606: Directs the Texas Department of Transportation to conduct a study of strategic deployment routes and other highways critical to the movement of troops and equipment.
"Ensuring an adequate transportation infrastructure is essential for national security and the rapid deployment of troops overseas," Fraser said.
Under the bill, TxDOT is required to assess the condition of the routes and identify those that require further construction, maintenance or expansion, and provide a cost estimate for improvemnts. TxDOT is required to submit is report to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House no later than January 31, 2000.
Senate Bill 607: Directs the Office of Defense Affairs, a component of the Texas Department of Economic Development, to develop and maintain a database of the names and other relevant information of all prime contractors and subcontractors operating in Texas who perform defense-related work.
"Texans need to be concerned about the business of the military -- and about the military as a business," Fraser said. "In order to attract new defense industry, we have to know what we've already got so we can identify potential future opportunities and applications in the area of emerging technology."
Fraser noted that the defense industry's direct impact on the Texas economy is $15.6 billion dollars a year.
"Roughly $8.1 billion of that is payroll, with another $7.4 billion in defense contracts," Fraser said. "When you add indirect impacts, defense will generate over $37 billion for Texans this year."
The Department of Defense alone employs more than 160,000 people in Texas -- or more than the state's top 10 businesses combined, Fraser said.
Senate Bill 608: Exempts active duty military from the Texas Academic Skills Program testing requirements, beginning in the 1999 fall semester. Currently, Texas requires all undergraduate students who enter a public institution of higher education be tested for reading, writing and mathematic skill prior to enrolling in any college-level course work, even if they have complete several hours of college courses outside the state.
"Education is a quality-of-life issue, and this will encourage our military men and women to further their pursuit of college-level courses," Fraser said. "Exempting them from the TASP requirement removes an unnecessary obstacle on the path of higher education."
Each of the three bills authored by Fraser stemmed from recommendations made by the Strategic Military Planning Commission, created by the Texas Legislature in 1997 to develop a comprehensive strategy for supporting the defense infrastructure the Texas economy.
"These are all important steps toward keeping the defense industry alive and well in Texas at a time when Congress is actively considering another round of military installations closings beginning as early as 2001," Fraser said. "The active military in Texas and our defense industry play vital roles both in terms of national security and the state's economy. It's in our interest to do whatever we can to help."