Since he was elected to the Missouri House in 2020, Rep. Michael Johnson (D-23) says he has been busy building relationships, engaging with his constituents, introducing legislation and working on projects that will improve life in Kansas City.
Born and raised in District 23, Johnson has a long list of family members who’ve also served as elected officials, including his uncle Charles Hazley, who served as Third District’s councilman for more than two decades.
With a family history of service, Johnson has always believed in giving back to his district. It was his family who encouraged him to run for the seat vacated by now Sen. Barbara Anne Washington.
Archie Welch, Kansas City Veteran of the Year and veteran service provider said he’s proud of the work Johnson has accomplished in his first two years.
“He has taken the reins and he’s very concerned about his community,” Welch said. “There’s a lot of work to be done in the 23rd district.”
Johnson says he loves serving the 23rd District. “It’s ever-growing and you get a mix of everything. I’m willing and ready to put in the work,” he said.
As a veteran of the US Army, one of Johnson’s main priorities is helping Kansas City’s veterans. This year, Johnson sits on the House Veterans committee that is working on creating more opportunities for veterans.
“Veterans are still coming back from Afghanistan, but where are they going?” queried Johnson. “The committee is on top of everything, especially with the $1.5 trillion coming from the infrastructure bill to make sure that we have homes readily in place for those veterans once they touchdown.”
Johnson says Missouri has been stagnant when it comes to taking care of veterans, something he’s dedicated to changing.
“You shouldn’t come home as a veteran and be subjected to not being able to make at least $15 to $20 an hour,” he said. “A lot of times, you come home, you served your country and now you feel lost. There’s no support system. My main goal is to advocate to make sure that the veterans know that we care and that we are going to help you.”
One project Johnson is working on with a group of entrepreneurs, nonprofit CEOs and executive directors and other local leaders is Enable KC, a project to create a homeless sanctuary village in Kansas City called Mulligan Village. The proposal is finished and the group is in the process of acquiring state funding.
Johnson sees the project can really help homeless veterans receive the services they need to transition back into society.
Enable KC creates a partnership with the city, county and state to address some of the area’s most challenging problems. One of the first solutions the group has brought forth is to address homelessness.
The group has developed a plan for a stand-alone homeless village that will provide long-term housing, meals, medical, veteran and behavioral support. The village is slated to support thousands of homeless individuals on 100 acres of land. The village would include campsites, 24-hour security, a post office, education and workforce development, farming, recreational activities and more.
One bill Johnson is working on is HB 2737, which would create a program to provide high-speed internet access to underserved areas.
The bill is currently in the Special Committee on Broadband and Infrastructure and set to have a hearing this week. The program requires the Department of Economic Development to provide high-speed internet to residents who do not have high-speed internet as quickly as possible.
“Broadband internet is a necessity and if you don’t have it, you’re unable to function in daily life, activities and unable to get access to healthcare and educational services,” Johnson said. “Everyone needs it.”
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