S.B. No. 1859
  relating to benefits and services for veterans and certain other
  related benefits.
         SECTION 1.  Sections 434.0078(a), (c), and (e), Government
  Code, are amended to read as follows:
         (a)  The commission shall adopt procedures for administering
  claims assistance services under Section 434.007(a)(5). The
  procedures must [shall] include:
               (1)  criteria for determining when a veteran's initial
  claim is substantially complete and basic eligibility requirements
  are met as provided by federal law;
               (2)  a process for expediting a claim based on
  hardship, including whether the veteran:
                     (A)  is in immediate need;
                     (B)  is terminally ill;
                     (C)  has a verifiable financial hardship; or
                     (D)  has a disability that presents an undue
               (3)  a procedure for advising [counseling] veterans on
  the potential merits or drawbacks of pursuing a claim;
               (4)  a process to ensure adequate documentation and
  development of a claim or appeal, including early client
  involvement, collection of needed evidence and records, and
  analysis of actions necessary to pursue and support a claim or
               (5)  criteria for evaluating whether a decision of the
  United States Department of Veterans Affairs contains sufficient
  cause for filing an appeal;
               (6)  a requirement that a claims benefit advisor
  [counselor] report to the United States Department of Veterans
  Affairs if the advisor [counselor] has direct knowledge that a
  claim contains false or deceptive information; and
               (7)  a procedure for prioritizing a claim, when
  appropriate, or providing an alternative source for obtaining
  claims assistance services when it is not appropriate to
         (c)  The commission shall regularly evaluate claims
  assistance services staffing to determine where advisors
  [counselors] and special team staff are most needed. The
  evaluation must include the:
               (1)  workload of staff;
               (2)  number of veterans denied claims assistance
  services; and
               (3)  quality of claims prepared at each of the claims
  assistance services offices.
         (e)  The commission shall regularly collect detailed
  information on the outcome of claims and use that information to
  evaluate and improve claims assistance services. The commission,
  at a minimum, shall track and evaluate the [following information
  by claims district:
               [(1)  the quality of claims submitted to the state
  strike force team;
               [(2)  the percentage of claims developed through claims
  assistance services that are processed as fully developed claims by
  the United States Department of Veterans Affairs;
               [(3)  the success rate of claims and appeals developed
  through claims assistance services; and
               [(4)  the] average processing time for claims and
  appeals by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs.
         SECTION 2.  Section 434.018, Government Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         Sec. 434.018.  PERFORMANCE INCENTIVE AWARD. (a)  The
  commission may make a monetary performance incentive award to an
  individual or an entity for providing services to veterans as
  authorized by Section 3(a) of the federal Jobs for Veterans Act (38
  U.S.C. Section 4112).
         (b)  [The performance incentive award may be monetary or
         [(c)]  A performance incentive award made under this section
  to a state employee is not a promotion or a merit salary increase
  under Chapter 659.
         SECTION 3.  Sections 434.104(a), (b), (c), and (e),
  Government Code, are amended to read as follows:
         (a)  Not later than February 1 of each even-numbered year,
  the commission shall create an electronic [version of a] state
  veterans benefits booklet. The commission shall make a printable
  [and provide a printed copy and an electronic] version of the
  booklet available to:
               (1)  each veterans county service officer; and
               (2)  the personnel office of each state or federal
  military installation in this state.
         (b)  A veterans county service officer is encouraged to
  inform [distribute a copy of the booklet to] any person who claims
  or will claim Texas as a residence after discharge from the United
  States armed forces how to access the electronic state veterans
  benefits booklet.
         (c)  Each veterans county service officer shall provide
  access to [make a copy of] the electronic state veterans benefits
  booklet [available] at the veterans county service office.
         (e)  The commission shall make the [provide an] electronic
  state veterans benefits [version of the] booklet available on the
  commission's website.
         SECTION 4.  Section 434.153, Government Code, is amended to
  read as follows:
         Sec. 434.153.  COMPOSITION OF COUNCIL.  The council is
  composed of the director or executive head of the following
  entities, or that person's designated representative:
               (1)  the Texas Veterans Commission;
               (2)  the Veterans' Land Board;
               (3)  the Texas Military Department;
               (4)  the Health and Human Services Commission;
               (5)  the State Bar of Texas;
               (6)  the office of acquired brain injury of the Health
  and Human Services Commission;
               (7)  the Department of State Health Services;
               (8)  [the Department of Aging and Disability Services;
               [(9)  the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative
               [(10)]  the Department of Family and Protective
               (9) [(11)]  the Texas Workforce Commission;
               (10) [(12)]  the Texas Workforce Investment Council;
               (11) [(13)]  the Texas Higher Education Coordinating
               (12) [(14)]  the Texas Department of Licensing and
               (13) [(15)]  the Department of Public Safety;
               (14) [(16)]  the Texas Department of Criminal Justice;
               (15) [(17)]  the Commission on Jail Standards;
               (16) [(18)]  the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement
  [Officer Standards and Education];
               (17) [(19)]  the Texas Department of Housing and
  Community Affairs;
               (18) [(20)]  the Texas Department of Transportation;
               (19) [(21)]  the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles;
               (20) [(22)]  the Office of Public Utility Counsel.
         SECTION 5.  The following provisions are repealed:
               (1)  Section 54.344, Education Code;
               (2)  Section 434.0072, Government Code;
               (3)  Section 434.0078(f), Government Code; and
               (4)  Section 434.106, Government Code.
         SECTION 6.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2023.
  ______________________________ ______________________________
     President of the Senate Speaker of the House     
         I hereby certify that S.B. No. 1859 passed the Senate on
  April 12, 2023, by the following vote:  Yeas 31, Nays 0.
  Secretary of the Senate    
         I hereby certify that S.B. No. 1859 passed the House on
  May 2, 2023, by the following vote:  Yeas 144, Nays 0,
  three present not voting.
  Chief Clerk of the House