AUSTIN – State Representative Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) filed three more bills as part of his “Opportunity Agenda.” The bills would address two longstanding issues in South Dallas and other economically distressed and under-developed communities that hinder small businesses and individuals from succeeding: limited access to small business capital and banking services. He filed the bills on the same day that he was named to the new Sub-Committee on Small Business Development of the House Committee on Economic and Small Business Development, of which he is Vice Chair.
“It’s hard to expand a business without capital and it’s hard to open a personal bank account if there’s no bank in your community. All Texans want are the tools to build their own success, and if the Legislature can facilitate that at no cost to taxpayers, we are duty-bound to do so. This is a hand-up, not a hand-out,” Rep. Johnson said.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings praised the legislation.
“I applaud Representative Eric Johnson’s efforts to encourage banking and capital investment in economically under-developed areas across the State of Texas. In neighborhoods throughout our city we have the talent and great ideas, but lack the capital investments and infrastructure to support our local entrepreneurs and small businesses. We welcome additional programs and tools to encourage investment and small business development in our economically challenged neighborhoods,” said Rawlings.
Rep. Johnson’s “Opportunity Agenda” also includes bills to encourage people released from jail to find gainful employment (HB 548, HB 549, HB 551, and HB 1363), prohibit LGBT individuals from being fired solely because of their gender identity or sexual orientation (HB 627), and improve public pre-kindergarten to eliminate the educational gap between at-risk and non-at-risk students before they reach kindergarten (HB 1100).
The bills filed are:
HB 1626 – Banking Development Districts: Guarantees the deposit of state and local funds into bank branches that open in under-banked areas. Mainstream banks allow individuals to rely less on payday lenders and check-cashing outlets that charge high fees.
HB 1628 – Prize-Linked Savings Accounts: Allows banks and credit unions to operate “no-lose” raffles with cash prizes in which the entry ticket is a savings account deposit receipt. This alternative to playing the lottery encourages people to save their money rather than gamble.
HB 1629 – Crowdfunding for Communities: Overrides conflict-of-interest rules preventing operators of crowdfunding websites from offering investments in businesses in which they have a financial stake, but only for non-profits and government agencies engaged in small business/economic development lending. This will allow public small business/economic development loan funds to be leveraged with private investment.