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Rep.Lopez, Ray

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Representative Lopez advances 'jobs for Veterans' bill to Governor Abbott, despite legislative hurdles 
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by: Rep. Lopez, Ray

Austin, TX May 23, 2021, The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many challenges to the 87th Texas legislative session. A number of delays have slowed down the bill movement process considerably. However, this has not deterred State Representative Ray Lopez who represents "Military City, USA" in Bexar County from working on behalf of his constituents to advance important pieces of legislation he filed.

Earlier this session, Representative Lopez passed House Bill 739 out of the House, which would create a program administered by the Texas Veterans Commission to promote training for jobs in the energy industry for veterans.

However, with only a week and a half left of the legislative session and the bill sitting in Senate Veterans' Affairs and Border Security committee, Representative Lopez needed to expedite the passage of this important piece of legislation. To make this happen, Representative Lopez worked with Senator Zaffirini and Representative Dominguez on a bicameral solution. Both legislators agreed to allow Representative Lopez to amend the language of House Bill 739 onto House Bill 33 another bill relating to Veterans in the workforce.

House Bill 33 requires the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) to evaluate industry certification training programs and courses offered by colleges and career schools and identify those that are well-suited for veterans. The TWC would also be required to identify, develop, and support methods of facilitating course credit based on military experience under the College Credit for Heroes Program. By adding the language from HB 739, this takes the program one step further and ensures that the TWC assists veterans with finding careers in the rapidly growing energy industry.

"Texas currently leads the United States in total energy production. We are second in the nation in solar energy production, and first in wind production, with an estimated 30,000 wind energy jobs found within the state," sated Representative Lopez. As of 2020, Texas has 80 solar manufacturing sites which account for over 10,200 jobs. "The amendment to HB 33 will expand access for veterans to find work in this emergent industry and provide employers increased access to a highly qualified hiring pool of veterans who are eager to get to work."

HB 33 was sent to the Governor's office to be signed into law on May 14, 2021. If signed by the Governor this Act takes effect September 1, 2021.

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