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Johnson files bills to address community concerns

Special to The Dallas Examiner | 12/12/2016, 7:04 a.m.
In preparation for the next legislative session, Rep. Eric Johnson, who represents District 100 – which includes parts of Dallas ...
Rep. Eric Johnson File photo

Special to The Dallas Examiner

In preparation for the next legislative session, Rep. Eric Johnson, who represents District 100 – which includes parts of Dallas and Mesquite – in the Texas House of Representatives, has filed several house bills that he hopes will help improve voter turnout, affordable housing, economic security and pubic safety in Dallas.

On Nov. 14, he filed five important pieces of legislation including two key employment bills: House Bill 225, prohibiting employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity or expression in the state of Texas, and House Bill 290, which would prohibit pay discrimination for comparable work based on gender and would prohibit employers from requiring an applicant to provide their salary history.

“When an entire class of citizens starts off at a lower pay due to the evident discrimination, by requiring them to provide their salary history, the inequity perpetuates, with the group unable to ever catch up,” Johnson said.

Additionally, he filed three public safety bills that he feels are crucial, including House Bill 291, which would allow the city of Dallas to opt out of the open carry bill from the 84th Texas Legislature, and House Bill 235, which would establish a grant program for law enforcement agencies that comply with police shooting reporting requirements that were mandated by Johnson’s House Bill 1036 from the 84th Texas Legislature.

The final public safety piece of legislation Johnson filed is House Bill 245, which would create an enforcement mechanism for the police shooting reporting bill to ensure that all law enforcement agencies report instances of officer-involved shootings or else lose their Criminal Justice Division grants that are administered by the Governor’s Office for one full year.

“Without an enforcement mechanism, some law enforcement agencies are failing to comply with the reporting requirements, leaving the data we have obtained thus far on police shootings in Texas incomplete. This penalty is a necessary tool to ensure Texas can lead the nation in transparency in policing,” Johnson said.

On Nov. 30, Johnson filed House Bill 469 to allow for same-day voter registration at polls in the state of Texas.

“Despite Donald Trump’s baseless claim that millions of people voted illegally in the recent election, the reality is that voter turnout is nowhere close to where it needs to be. We need to make it easier for people to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” Johnson said.

Another bill filed, House Bill 470, would allow the city of Dallas to implement a variety of financing tools to increase the availability of affordable housing for low income residents.

“Lack of affordable housing is a serious concern in my district, especially in parts of West Dallas and South Dallas. The areas are rapidly gentrifying with people being driven from their homes. This bill would simply give the City of Dallas more tools to increase affordable housing options and would help prevent the involuntary displacement of the city’s residents,” he said.

Johnson also filed House Bill 471 and an accompanying constitutional amendment proposal, House Joint Resolution 37, to allow banks and credit unions to offer prize-lined savings accounts in which a person can win prizes, including cash, by opening a savings account and making deposits into it.

“During the last legislative session, this bill made it all the way to the governor’s desk and was vetoed on the grounds that it would require a constitutional amendment. I am refiling it with the accompanying amendment because allowing banks to use this tool to incentivize saving is a smart and forward thinking policy decision that can go a long way for Texas families,” Johnson said.