Rep. Johnson tackles recidivism, voting and gentrification
Special to The Dallas Examiner | 2/19/2017, 5:47 a.m.
Special to The Dallas Examiner
Texas Rep. Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) has represented District 100 in the Texas House of Representatives since he was first elected in a special election in April 2010. He has been re-elected three times. As an advocate for civil justice, voting rights and economic security, he filed House Bill 1218 last month to help prostitutes break the cycle of incarceration and re-enter society by delaying a felony conviction for prostitution and encouraging participation in prostitution diversion programs.
“A criminal record, especially a felony, makes it difficult for individuals to access housing, food, and legal employment, making it more difficult to exit the lifestyle and end the cycle of re-offense and incarceration,” Johnson said. “Last session, I sent a similar bill to the governor’s desk, which, sadly, he vetoed. I hope to work with the governor this session to gain support for this bipartisan, common sense criminal justice reform measure.”
Johnson has also filed House Bill 1215 to address the issue of prison-based gerrymandering of districts. Currently, for purposes of redistricting, inmates are counted as residing in the district in which the prison they are incarcerated in is located, rather than the place they actually call home.
“Prison-based gerrymandering distorts our democratic process and artificially inflates district populations in a way that is not truly representative of the voting population,” he said.
Recently, Johnson was chosen as one of the 27 members named to the board of advisors for Let America Vote, an organization launched by former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander dedicated to winning the public debate over voter suppression in the United States, Feb. 7.
Johnson is the only elected official from Texas to serve on the national board and was appointed alongside Cecile Richards, daughter of former Texas Governor Ann Richards.
“I am honored to have been appointed to the Board of Advisors for Let America Vote by my good friend, Jason Kander. Let America Vote is a long-awaited solution to a serious problem in Texas – voter suppression,” he said. “Considering the strict voting ID laws, the inability to register online, and difficult voter registration process, Texas makes participation in our democratic process less accessible and severely limits voter turnout. A solution to this issue is long overdue and I’m ready to get to work.”
Johnson was also appointed by Texas House Speaker Joe Straus to the House Committee on Ways and Means, the House Committee on Investments and Financial Services, the House Select Committee on State and Federal Power Responsibility, and was named vice chairman of the House Committee on Redistricting for the 85th Texas Legislature, Feb. 9.
“I’m very excited to get to work on these committees,” Johnson said. “Protecting vulnerable communities from displacement due to gentrification by providing property tax relief is top priority of mine, and something I hope to work with my colleagues on Ways and Means to accomplish.
“We need to start planning now for the 2021 redistricting, and I intend to get to work immediately on making sure our North Texas communities, and particularly communities of color, are fairly represented in the United States Congress and the Texas Legislature.”