By State Rep. Jarvis Johnson
Jarvis Johnson was sworn in surrounded by family and friends January 10 to succeed Mayor Sylvester Turner as House District 139 State Rep. Johnson hit the ground running with an open house and many forums to visit his neighbors from all his north Houston district and hearing their input, has already filed 17 bills to achieve results.
“I thank my family and friends that came to the Capitol to take part in the Legislature’s 85th inaugural ceremony. It was without a doubt a fantastic moment for all. It means everything to me to be in Texas’ House, the People’s House, as the voice for the community where I grew up and have lived all my life,” said Johnson who raised his family, built business, and been involved in youth, church, chamber of commerce and senior citizen activities here.
“In Texas, unlike most states, the Legislature meets only 140 days every two years. From early January through May 27, 150 representatives from across Texas (each representing about 179,000 people) and 31 state senators (each representing about 800,000 people) meet each odd year to build a budget and the laws of this state and broad policies for the next two years,” said the former three-term District B Houston City Council Member.
Johnson is focusing on K-12 education, higher education, criminal justice, police accountability, mental health, child welfare and juvenile justice. In K-12 education he’s wants HB 310 to offer school guidance counseling programs funds, HB 315 for grants for education services for students not in state schools but other residential treatment facilities, HB 311 to amend public school funding formulas for those with disabilities, HB 374 for career and technology training opportunities, and HB 795 to help ISDs appeal Texas Education Agency (TEA) rulings.
In Higher Education Johnson is pushing HB 313 to allow the University of Houston to benefit from the oil and gas based Permanent Education (PUF) Fund and HB 430 to alter the state’s higher education funding formula to offer $500 to universities based on how many students earn bachelor degrees and $1,000 bonuses for at-risk students that earn a bachelor degree. Of local interest, Johnson filed HB 312 to establish a Disaster Recovery Fund to relieve the fiscal burden placed on local communities during times of disaster.
In criminal justice and police accountability Johnson filed HB 625 to require biannual psychological exams for police officers. HB 567, in honor of Sandra Bland, will prohibit police from arresting individuals for minor offenses. He’s also pitched HB 603 to require physical fitness testing for police and HB 814 to prohibit police from searching a private vehicle without probable cause, written or recorded consent from the vehicle operator.
In mental health, Johnson wants HB 309 to offer home and community-based services for struck by severe and persistent mental illness. Johnson’s commitment is to keep people from destabilizing or continuing through the criminal justice, emergency services and mental hospital systems when more appropriate service levels could better serve people and save the state and counties important funds.
In child welfare Johnson will fight for HB 287 to consolidate abuse and neglect definitions to require all Department of Family and Protective Service agencies to use the Child Protective Service’s definition, to strengthen protections for children in the care of state or paid providers. HB 596 will ensure children removed from their homes and placed in Permanent Managing Conservatorship have the same rights to state appointed Guardians or Ad Litem Attorneys as those in Temporary Managing Conservatorship.
In juvenile justice, Johnson wants HB 314 to ensure the Juvenile Justice Education Program prioritizes reading at grade level and prepares for the general education development test and offers funds to divert youth from state juvenile correctional and adult correctional systems. He wants HB 932 to require an annual report from the Department of Juvenile Justice concerning the number of offenders who are or have been in conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services, to break the pipeline from Foster Care to the Juvenile System.
“These are trying times for HD-139 and all Texas with new leadership at our local Harris County offices to Washington DC. My oath is to keep folks in HD 139 represented the best I can. I’m tireless and up for this task. My family and I thank you for trusting me with the responsibility to be your representative. My staff and I’ll be the most accessible imaginable to those that put me here and to keep accountable,” Johnson said. “I’m ready to serve all of HD 139. I look forward to ensuring everyone from our diverse district is a part of the legislative process during the upcoming 85th legislative session,” he said.