AUSTIN – Local government near most major Texas military aviation installations would not be allowed to offer tax breaks to encourage the development of windfarms that could interfere with aircraft taking off and landing under legislation expected to come to House floor Monday.
“This is a military facilities bill, it’s not a windfarm bill,” said state Rep. James Frank, a Wichita Falls Republican who is the House sponsor of Senate Bill 277. “We shouldn’t tell people what they can or cannot do with their private property, but we should be able to tell local governments they shouldn’t be giving tax breaks to programs that interfere with our military.”
The legislation came in part in response to a renewable energy project planned within 25 miles of Sheppard Air Force Base. Frank said it would also affect up to 15 military installations, including those near Corpus Christi, Kingsville, Abilene, El Paso and possibly San Angelo.
Without such legislation, Frank added, the facilities could fall victim to the Base Realignment and Closure Commission’s ax.
The measure has the backing of several organizations that seek to protect military installations for the economic benefit they bring to nearby communities, which have lined up in support of the measure already cleared in the state Senate.
“Our top priority is to protect the safety of our aviators and protect our military missions,” said Wes Hoskins, chairman of the South Texas Military Facility Task Force. “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.”
Frank said he expects the measure to pass the House with either no changes or only minor changes. If the House passes the bill as it came over from the Senate, it would go to Gov. Greg Abbott to be signed into law. If changes are added in the House, the Senate would have to sign off on them before the bill could be sent to the governor.