Wednesday, February 21, 2001 
                                     3:00 p.m. 
                     Lt. Governor Committee Hearing Room, 2E.20 
         Pursuant to a notice posted in accordance with Senate Rule  
         11.18, a public hearing of the Senate Veteran Affairs & Military  
         Installations Committee was held on Wednesday, February 21,  
         2001, in the Lt. Governor Committee Hearing Room, 2E.20, at  
         Austin, Texas. 
         MEMBERS PRESENT:                        MEMBERS ABSENT: 
         Senator Carlos F. Truan                 None 
         Senator Eliot Shapleigh 
         Senator Troy Fraser 
         Senator Tom Haywood 
         Senator Leticia Van de Putte 
         Chairman Truan called the meeting to order at 3:11 p.m.  The  
         Committee Clerk called the roll, and there being a quorum  
         present, the following business was transacted: 
         Chairman Truan laid out SJR22 and SB 658, and recognized the  
         author, Senator Barrientos, to explain the bills.  Senator  
         Shapleigh assumed the chair.  Dan Wilson, representing Texas  
         Comptroller of Public Accounts, Property Tax Division, and Art  
         Cory, representing Travis County Appraisal District testified on  
         the bill.  Chairman Truan resumed the chair.  Bernie Little,  
         representing Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, testified on  
         the bill.  Per Senator Barrientos' request, Senator Truan moved  
         that SJR22 and SB 658 be left pending; without objection, it was  
         so ordered. 
         Chairman Truan laid out SCR24, in observation of Veterans Day,  
         and recognized the author, Senator Nelson, to explain the bill.   
         Senator Truan moved that SCR24 be left pending to await a  
         quorum; without objection, it was so ordered.  Upon arrival of a  
         quorum, Senator Fraser moved that SCR24 be reported back to the  
         Senate with the recommendation that it do pass and be printed.   
         The motion carried with a record vote of 5 ayes, 0 nay, 0  
         present not voting, and 0 absent. 
         Senator Van de Putte assumed the chair and laid out SB186,  
         relating to motor vehicle insurance premium discounts for  
         certain individuals on active duty military, and recognized the  
         author, Senator Truan, to explain the bill.  Will Davis and Fred  
         Bosse, representing United Services Automobile Association,  
         testified in opposition to the bill.  Marilyn Hamilton,  
         Associate Commissioner representing Texas Department of  
         Insurance, testified on the bill.  Senator Van de Putte moved  
         that the public testimony be closed; without objection, it was  
         so ordered.  Senator Truan moved that SB186 be reported  
         favorably to the Senate with the recommendation that it do pass  
         and be printed.  The motion carried with a record vote of 5  
         ayes, 0 nay, 0 present not voting, and 0 absent. 
         Senator Truan resumed the chair.  There was no action taken for  
         the following bill(s):  
         SB 480 by Senator Duncan, relating to the use of development  
         corporations to improve local telecommunications infrastructure,  
         was left to be laid out at a later date per the request of its  
         Invited guest speakers from the Texas Veterans Commission, James  
         Nier, Executive Director, Commissioner John Brieden, and Billy  
         Green, Director of Human Resources, testified as Resource  
         Witnesses.  Mr. Nier noted the Commission's success was due in  
         part to Dean Truan and the members of the Senate Committee on  
         Veteran Affairs & Military Installations. 
         Mr. Nier testified the Texas Veterans Commission was one of only  
         a few State agencies in Article One to meet one hundred percent  
         (100%) of its performance objectives.  Chairman Truan  
         congratulated them on this achievement on behalf of the  
         Committee.  Mr. Nier also noted $748 million was recovered for  
         its active caseload during fiscal year 2000 as follows: $471  
         million for service connected veterans, $176 million to widows  
         and orphans of veterans and $101 million to totally disabled war  
         time veterans for pension.  There were 39,000 claims filed on  
         behalf of these groups and 5,600 appeals filed.  Mr. Nier also  
         stated The Texas Veterans Commission helped Texas lead in  
         Veteran Affairs expenditures per veteran, monetary recovery of  
         pensions and compensation per veteran and participation rate in  
         Veteran Affairs pensions.  Mr. Nier noted their success was due  
         to several factors, including strong support from the Texas  
         Legislature, support of veterans service organizations, and  
         excellent outreach to veterans by the Commission. 
         Mr. Nier stated that although the Texas Veterans Commission has  
         been very successful, he 
         commented about concerns for the next biennium.  The current  
         caseload stands at 107,000 compared to the over 1.5 million  
         veterans now living in Texas.  Mr. Nier stated the Commission  
         needs additional outreach to these veterans and to improve  
         counseling services and case representation, including  
         maintaining a qualified, trained workforce.  Although the  
         Commission has a low turnover rate, Mr. Nier stated there could  
         be the highest turnover rate in history during the next year if  
         salaries are not increased.  Equipment upgrades are necessary as  
         well as the need to hire a network specialist.  Chairman Truan  
         asked for a written summary of the Texas Veterans Commissions'  
         budget request and justification for the Veterans Finance  
         Working Group. 
         Chairman Truan noted Commissioner David Dewhurst of the Texas  
         General Land Office testified before the Committee on Wednesday,  
         February 7, 2001 and asked if the Texas Veterans Commission  
         would like to offer any suggestions on the Veterans Land Board.   
         Mr. Nier stated the two agencies signed a memorandum of  
         understanding and are working together closely.  Dean Truan  
         commented he was drafting legislation to lift restrictions on  
         revenue bonds and include additional bonding authority for the  
         Veterans Land Board.  Chairman Truan then noted that  
         representatives from both agencies along with Committee staff  
         should work together in roundtable discussions.  Mr. Nier  
         finished his presentation by requesting an across-the-board pay  
         raise for all state employees. 
         There being no further business, at 4:49 p.m. Senator Shapleigh  
         moved that the Committee stand recessed subject to the call of  
         the chair.  Without objection, it was so ordered.   
         Senator Carlos F. Truan, Chairman 
         Rhonda Pointer, Clerk