With the beginning of the 81st Session of the Texas Legislature Tuesday, District 34 State Rep. Abel Herrero said his focus will be on helping to ease the financial burdens on military servicemembers and their families.

Herrero had filed four bills and one joint resolution throughout November and December for the 2009 session of the Texas Legislature. The four bills deal with helping to ease debt and taxation for military servicemembers.

"We want to do all we can to help our men and women in the military, not only to thank them for their service, but to show the support Texas has for its military servicemembers.," Herrero said.

Herrero, who was recently re-elected to his third term in November, said his primary focuses will remain on helping to improve the quality of education for students in South Texas. Part of that will be helping to bring down the cost of state mandates or provide and increase of funding, he added.

"We want to provide additional funding for schools and not further burden them with unfunded mandates," Herrero said.

One option will include legislation that was filed which would allow school districts to not have to pay election costs for joint elections with a municipality.

"One of the misconceptions is that by having joint elections with governmental entities, it costs less," Herrero said. "But talking with some of the school districts, it actually costs more."

The Tuloso-Midway Independent School District is one example of that. Before it began holding joint elections with Nueces County, the district only about $4,000 to $5,000 in election costs. Before the trustee election was cancelled in November, due to a lack of opposition for the incumbents, the district had estimated it would have to pay about $15,000 in costs.

Herrero said his legislative agenda would also include working to bring teacher pay up to the national average and increasing enrollment in the Children's Health Insurance Program.

Bills authored by District 34 State Rep. Abel Herrero

HB 341: Would give military servicemen and women a $3,000 property tax exemption off the appraised value of their homestead. HB 342: Would allow military servicemembers called to active duty to defer certain types of consumer debt. HB 343: Would allow military servicemen and women to defer payments of specific types of consumer debt. HB 400: Would dismiss parking fines for disabled motorists who have not renewed their Americans with Disabilities Act parking placard. HJR 28: Proposing a constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation a portion of the assessed value of the residence homesteads of military servicemembers who are serving on active duty. Enabling legislation is HB 341.

Source: Texas Legislature Online