Rep. Dan Johnson at work during the 2019 Legislative session in the Utah Capitol
LOGAN – Rep. Dan Johnson, R-District 4, may be a retired school administrator but he continues to fight for education in Utah.
Johnson will serve on the Public Education Committee, the Education Appropriations Committee and the Transportation Committee when the 2020 Utah Legislature convenes on Monday.
“It’s such a great pleasure and honor just to get to serve,” he said. “I look forward to solving problems and trying to help people as best I can.”
Johnson said the majority of people he talks with are concerned about education and the ability to adequately fund schools and quality programs.
He said the recent tax reform bill, which is likely to be repealed by the legislature, “left people feeling uneasy.”
“Education was left undone,” he said. “It’s a big deal how we move forward and fund it and keep a stable source of income.”
Johnson will work on two appropriations requests during the next 45 days.
“One deals with cultural arts and providing kids the opportunity to have access to cultural experiences across the state,” he said. “Many rural students don’t have those teachers and so we need to fund some cultural arts programs.”
The other request will fund a study at The Family Place, a local non-profit organization that provides safe shelter for children involved in crisis situations.
Johnson will sponsor five bills – two in education, three in transportation.
One bill will be familiar to Utah residents because the idea has been floated a number of times and shot down each year.
“There will be push back on it, but that’s OK,” said Johnson, who intends to co-sponsor a bill that would ban distracted driving.
Hand-held use of a cellphone while driving in Utah already is technically illegal – but it can be enforced only if another traffic violation, besides speeding, is committed.
In a 32-41 vote last year, the House rejected HB13. The law would have prohibited use of a cell phone in a moving vehicle unless it was hands-free. You would have gotten one “tap” of “swipe” under the bill.
Johnson said he is willing to give the idea another try and his bill “mirrors many in other states. I think it’s going to be an important piece of legislation.”
The former principal hopes the public will educate themselves on the dangers of texting and driving and encourage legislators to support the bill.
“I think it’s time in Utah to look at it as a non-partisan bill,” he said.