The 84th Legislative Session came to an end on June 1. There were 6,276 bills and 200 constitutional amendments filed this session. Of these, 1,282 bills have passed into law. Over the next few weeks, I will write about some of the legislation that was passed this session.

The 84th Legislative Session came to an end on June 1. There were 6,276 bills and 200 constitutional amendments filed this session. Of these, 1,282 bills have passed into law. Over the next few weeks, I will write about some of the legislation that was passed this session.


Currently, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission is required to waive the fee for a hunting or fishing license of a "qualified disabled veteran," defined as a veteran who has a service-connected disability consisting of the loss of the use of a lower extremity or a disability rating of 60 percent or greater and who is eligible for federal compensation for the disability. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department also offers "super combo" combination hunting and fishing licenses free of charge to qualified disabled veterans. Effective Sept. 1, House Bill 721 reduces from 60 percent to 50 percent the disability rating required for a veteran to be considered a qualified disabled veteran for the purpose of receiving a resident hunting or fishing license fee waiver. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department estimates that more than 1,000 Texas disabled veterans participate in hunting and fishing activities using licenses they paid for because they have a disability rating of 50 percent, not the 60 percent required for the free license. HB 721 makes more consistent the benefits that disabled veterans receive in Texas by more closely aligning the eligibility for fee waivers with other related U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs service-connected disability benefits.


HB 992 would extend the homestead exemption in existing law that applies to the surviving spouse of a totally disabled veteran who died on or after Jan. 1, 2010 to the surviving spouse of a totally disabled veteran who died before Jan. 1, 2010 and would have qualified for the full exemption on the homestead’s entire value if it had been available at that time. A residential homestead qualifies if: the property had received the full homestead exemption under the disabled veteran’s status; the property was the residence homestead of the surviving spouse when the disabled veteran died; the property remains the residence homestead of the surviving spouse; and the surviving spouse has not remarried. HB 992 would apply only to the tax years beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2016 and will only go into effect if the Texas Constitution is amended by voters this November to authorize these changes. Otherwise, the bill would have no effect. According to estimates by the comptroller, this bill would allow the surviving spouses of roughly 3,800 totally disabled veterans who died before 2010 to claim this exemption.


A few months ago I wrote a column regarding the Texas Armed Services Scholarship for college-bound students who will participate in the ROTC. If you or someone you know is interested in this scholarship, please contact my Austin office at 512-463-0297.


LARRY PHILLIPS of Sherman represents District 62 in the Texas House of Representatives. His telephone number in Sherman is 903-891-7297. His telephone number in Austin is 512-463-0297. His address in Austin is P.O. Box 2910, Austin, TX 78768-2910. His email address is larry.phillips@house.state.tx.us.