Texas House to Vote on Military Base Protection Bill

Todd Hunter moves mountains to keep the bill alive

(AUSTIN) – In the final hours before a critical reporting deadline, State Representative Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi) used all of his experience and leadership as Chairman of the House Committee on Calendars and set an important military base protection bill for a vote on Monday, May 22. SB 277 by Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) and Rep. James Frank (R-Wichita Falls) is narrowly crafted to prohibit tax abatements for wind farm developments in Texas within 25 nautical miles of a military installation with an aviation mission.

SB 277 was a recommendation from an interim study conducted by the bill’s author Senator Campbell, Chair of the Senate’s Veterans Affairs and Border Security. Sen. Campbell’s district includes Joint Base San Antonio. The bill’s author, Rep. Frank, filed the companion bill in response to wind farm development threatening Shepard Air Force Base in his district.

This bill will help protect five Texas military installations which are concerned about growing encroachments from wind turbines that interfere with navigational radar. SB 277 is focused on protecting Naval Air Station Corpus Christi (represented by Chairman Hunter), Naval Air Station Kingsville (represented by Representative J.M. Lozano), Shepard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls (represented by the bill’s sponsor Rep. Frank), Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio (represented by Representative Pancho Nevarez), and Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene (represented by Representative Stan Lambert). SB 277 is a legislative priority of the City of Corpus Christi and the United Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce’s South Texas Military Facilities Task Force, which has worked closely with Chairman Hunter, Chairman Abel Herrero (D-Robstown) and Representative Lozano (R-Kingsville), Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen) and other legislators from defense communities to advance this critical legislation before the end of the 85th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature on Memorial Day, May 29.

“We are grateful to our delegation, especially Chairman Hunter, for guiding this bill through the complicated committee process,” said Wes Hoskins, Chairman of the South Texas Military Facility Task Force. “This has been a true team effort, but we still have hurdles to overcome to get this to bill to the Governor’s desk. We need our fellow defense communities to support Chairmen Hunter, Lozano and Herrero to help pass SB 277. Our top priority is to protect the safety of our aviators and protect our military missions. This is not just important for the Coastal Bend, but for the economy of the State of Texas to maintain Texas as a leader in attracting military missions for the security of our nation.”

“I am pleased to be a part of a great team from this area,” said Nueces County Judge S. Loyd Neal, Jr.  ”Working together, walking the halls in Austin, and assisting our State elected officials when requested is how things get done that benefit our area.  Naval Aviation training is an important part of the fabric of this community.  It is critical all of us make sure it remains a strong part of our National Defense.”

“This is good news,” said Sam Fugate, Mayor of Kingsville.  “We greatly appreciate our friend Chairman Todd Hunter getting this bill set for a vote by the House so we can protect our invaluable military installations.”

For more information contact Tom Tagliabue, Director, Intergovernmental Relations, City of Corpus Christi, at (361) 400-8807 or at tomtag@cctexas.com or Joe Guzman, Director, South Texas Military Facilities Task Force, (361) 728-1557 or at militarytaskforce@unitedcorpuschristichamber.com.