Eric Johnson

Representative

Dallas, TX

Eric Johnson currently serves in the Texas House of Representatives, representing Dallas-based District 100. He was first elected in a special election in April 2010 and was re-elected to his position in November 2010. In his first legislative session, Eric submitted 13 pieces of legislation and had two measures signed into law. Since serving in the legislature, Eric has been named one of the 2011 Five Outstanding Young Texans by the Texas Junior Chamber of Commerce and awarded the Dallas Regional Chamber’s first annual Courage in Public Service Award.

Before entering elective office, Eric was an active supporter of Dallas’ non-profit community. He has served as both a tutor and mentor in the Dallas Independent School District, as well as a speaker at numerous “Career Day” programs in District 100. In 2009, he launched the West Dallas C.A.M.P. (Community Ambassador Mentoring Program) to pair West Dallas elementary school students with mentors in order to help them become productive members of society. Making a quality education available to all students remains Eric’s top priority.

Pro-Growth Progressive Ideas Shared

Problem

Currently, Texas has one of the largest unbanked and underbanked populations in the country. A lack of access to financial institutions hinders families from being able to build credit and savings, and local businesses aren’t able to obtain the loans they need to build their small businesses.

Solution

Representative Eric Johnson has enacted legislation in Texas creating Banking Development Districts to help increase access to financial services in the areas that need it most. The legislation allows local governments and the state to seed new bank branches in these underserved areas with deposits from the city treasury. Building on similar efforts in other states, Johnson’s bill allows credit unions in addition to banks to establish themselves in these banking development districts, increasing the projected scale of impact.


Problem

Changing climate conditions, population growth, and agricultural innovation are placing significant strains on water management systems. Finding a way to more effectively set public policy for water planning is critical.

Solution

In Texas, Rep. Johnson has helped lead the way to implementing a regional approach to water planning. Beginning with local or regional water development planning that is then incorporated into a statewide plan allows those closest to the resources and needs to strike the right balance between competing interests. Changing to a regional approach for deciding the priorities for water infrastructure allows for the needs of private water rights owners, private and public utilities, and government agencies to coordinate their efforts to maximum effect.


Problem

Access to a quality education at a young age is one of the most important pathways to future educational and economic success. Unfortunately, funding for such critical pre-k programs is often limited by tight budgets.

Solution

Currently, Dallas school districts with students who graduate a year early lose the funding associated with that student’s twelfth year in school. Instead of penalizing a school district for a student who has accomplished their requirements at an accelerated pace, Rep. Johnson initiated a program to redirect those savings to expand the availability of pre-k education. This allows the school districts to invest in education opportunities that have been shown to have important, positive long-term effects on student outcomes.


Problem

Currently, many small businesses and historically underutilized businesses struggle to gain access to capital and small business loans. While Texas, like many other states, has recently legalized intrastate online crowdfunding to let businesses raise capital in exchange for equity or debt, experience in other states indicates that established small businesses—especially those in underdeveloped areas—struggle to attract investors and gain the financial and technical expertise necessary to fully utilize crowdfunding to raise capital.

Solution

Representative Eric Johnson has authored legislation to establish more flexible crowdfunding regulation requirements for a specific class of small business development entities that serve historically underfunded businesses. By allowing these businesses to leverage crowdfunding through less intrusive requirements, they can maximize their impact on small businesses and boost the economic impact around Texas.

 

How to steal this idea:

Learn more about Representative Johnson’s efforts in this article on his crowdfunding bill: http://www.bizjournals.com/dallas/print-edition/2015/02/27/bill-would-tweak-crowdfunding-rules-for-nonprofits.html

Read the legislation he sponsored in Texas: House Bill 1629

In the face of federal inaction, many states are already taking steps to facilitate equity crowdfunding within state lines by exempting from securities laws corporations that use crowdfunding to raise capital. To date, twenty-two states and the District of Columbia have enacted rules to allow intrastate crowdfunding.

In Wisconsin, these intrastate crowdfunding rules made it possible for a small business to establish a crowdfunding portal to raise $67,000 in growth capital from just over 50 individuals.

Texas can expect to see similar opportunities because we have similar regulations already in place. However, our solution is to go one step further to increase access to capital from crowdfunding by removing barriers to this tool for the small businesses that would otherwise not be able to take advantage of it, especially those in under-developed areas.

For more information on how other states are starting crowdfunding legislation, visit http://www.nasaa.org/industry-resources/corporation-finance/instrastate-crowdfunding-resource-center/

 

Visit and share the gallery of NewDEAL Challenge winners at governing.com/newdeal

 


Problem

Good schools can greatly influence the economic vitality of a neighborhood by improving home values and attracting higher income residents. These residents in turn attract businesses and improve the overall economic development of the town. By channeling additional funds to a struggling school, the impact extends far beyond improved test scores, into the overall economic health of the entire community.

Solution

Rep. Johnson is proposing legislation to create education empowerment zones that will provide additional funds targeted at struggling schools. These funds would be dedicated to specialized tasks like tutoring and after school programs, school supplies, and technology upgrades and could help ameliorate some of the challenges faced by schools in lower income areas. In order to qualify for these zones, the school district must commit matching funds and would be allowed to retain a certain amount of the state tax revenue from the zone.


Problem

The growing rise of recidivism poses a threat to our society’s ability to prepare individuals to become contributing adults. Among the leading cause of recidivism is the lack of employment opportunities and limited educational opportunities for ex-offenders.

Solution

In order to reduce recidivism and improve ex-offender reintegration, prison systems should partner with private industry to develop Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs for prisoners. By placing a greater emphasis on providing marketable skills we improve the odds that they will successfully reintegrate in society."


Problem

There is a national data gap on police officer use of deadly force, and officer-involved shootings because there is no mandatory reporting policy at the national level to capture information about these incidents. While Texas law already requires law enforcement agencies to report information on a number of different types of incidents to the state, including in-custody deaths, it does not require law enforcement agencies to provide statistics on police officer shootings. This means there is limited information for local police to address these issues and no aggregate data for policymakers, researchers, and law enforcement agencies to analyze in order to better understand and address possible trends or issues.

 

Solution

Representative Johnson has proposed legislation to increase transparency by requiring law enforcement agencies to report information on officer-involved shootings to the Office of the Attorney General and making this report available to the public so that the data gathered informs research and future policy. One of the biggest things that sets this law apart from other state approaches is the parallel reporting system that tracks incidents in which a civilian shoots a police officer in the course of duty. Additionally, unlike the majority of other state laws, the Texas reporting requirement has a strict reporting timeline for each incident to ensure that the data is gathered and reported in a timely fashion. Finally, keeping track of police officer shooting statistics can help increase transparency and maintain public trust in police officer agencies


Problem

In Texas, more than 1 in 3 households lack a savings account. Additionally, roughly half of all Texas households do not have the savings to be able to cover their basic expenses for three months in case of an emergency.

Solution

Representative Eric Johnson has sponsored legislation to allow banks and credit unions to operate prize-linked savings account programs in which the ticket to enter is a deposit into an individual's savings account. Prize-linked savings accounts have been proven as an effective way to reduce poverty and increase financial security, which benefits the entire community.