New Bill Filings/Chair Coleman Reappointed to County Affairs/State of the State/You’re Invited: TRAFFIC STOP screenings


This week, I authored and filed bills relating to healthcare, public education, higher education, LGBTQ equality, and flood prevention. I also partnered with Representative John Zerwas (R-Richmond) on the enabling legislation for the University of Houston College of Medicine. Please see below for a brief description of these bills.

HB 565Relating to healthcare coverage in this state.

This bill would expand Medicaid coverage and put Affordable Care Act (ACA) protections into Texas law to provide much-needed funding for healthcare services.

HB 993Relating to notice to a prospective residential tenant regarding a dwelling that is located in a floodplain or that has been damaged by flooding.

This bill would require landlords to give their residential tenants notice if there is flood risk in the building that they are renting. This is a common sense bill because this information is already required to be disclosed when purchasing a house. This bill would expand that disclosure to protect individuals who rent instead of purchasing a home.

Additionally, this bill is needed because many renters in Houston were not aware that their homes were built in areas at risk for flooding until Hurricane Harvey hit. This bill will give renters the necessary knowledge to help them take proper precautions in protecting themselves, and their homes.

HB 1511Relating to required coverage for eating disorders under group health benefit plans.

This bill amends the Texas Insurance Code to ensure that most private and employer health benefit plans cover eating disorders. Eating disorders are serious, complex, life-threatening illnesses that affect a person’s psychological and physical health. Eating disorders have been associated with serious physical health issues like heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, elevated mortality risk, and even suicide. The earlier that a person with an eating disorder seeks treatment, the greater the likelihood of physical and emotional recovery.

HB 1512 Relating to the repeal of the criminal offense of homosexual conduct.

This bill amends Texas Penal Code that lists “homosexual conduct” as a misdemeanor crime. Despite a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling declaring the law unconstitutional, the penal code does not reflect that, putting the state of Texas at risk for lawsuits.  This requirement is both morally reprehensible and factually inaccurateno LGBT Texan is “unacceptable.”

HB 1513Relating to a criminal offense committed against a person because of bias or prejudice on the basis of gender identity or expression.

This bill adds gender identity or expression to the current list of attributes that allow courts to impose stiffer penalties for crimes committed due to bias under the 2001 James Byrd Hate Crimes Act. The list currently includes “race, religion, color, sex, disability, sexual preference, age, or national origin.” Changing the law would give transgender Texans the protection they both need and deserve.

HB 1517Relating to a notification requirement if a public school, including an open-enrollment charter school, does not have a nurse assigned to the school during all instructional hours.

I have filed this bill since 2005. Texas does not currently require schools to employ nurse personnel full-time. The least we can do for Texas parents is to encourage open communication, and inform them when these key educators may not be available to their children. Regrettably this bill was vetoed by the Governor in 2017.

HB 1518 – Relating to the regulation of the sale of dextromethorphan to minors; providing civil penalties.

This bill amends the Texas Health and Safety Code to prohibit a business establishment from dispensing, distributing, or selling the cough suppressant dextromethorphan to a customer under 18 years of age to as it can be used as a recreational drug, which is very dangerous.

HB 826Relating to the creation of the University of Houston College of Medicine at the University of Houston.

Representative John Zerwas (R-Richmond) and I have jointly authored HB 826 to create the University of Houston College of Medicine.

In 2015, I added a rider to the 2015 state budget that got the ball rolling for the University of Houston College of Medicine (UH CoM). In 2017, Representative Armando Walle (D-Houston) joined my effort and we kept the momentum going by adding another rider to the state budget. This session, Representative Zerwas and I have filed HB 826 to officially create the UH CoM under Texas law.

The need for another medical school in Texas is clear and the University of Houston is the right institution to deliver. The Houston area has grown by nearly 4 million people since the last medical school was established in 1972, and Texas is projected to need another 6,260 primary care physicians by 2030. The UH CoM will be able to integrate with the University’s existing health and health related professions, colleges, and programs.

Additionally, the UH CoM will lift the research capabilities of many of the existing research centers and actives already occurring at the University of Houston. 

Finally, the University of Houston has the financial backing to make the College of Medicine a success. The University has already raised $31 million to support the College of Medicine. Additionally, the start-up cost associated with the College will be small compared to other schools because the University of Houston will be able to utilize existing health sciences administrative functions and leverage their existing academic resources.

University of Houston GCSW Program Honors Rep. Coleman and Sen. Whitmire

Last week, I was honored at a reception in Austin to raise funds for the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work (UH GCSW) students participating in our Austin Legislative Internship Program. We also had the great pleasure of honoring Senator John Whitmire for all his support.

Thank you, Honorable Elliott Naishtat, Representative Jessica Farrar (D-Houston), Senator Carol Alvarado (D-Houston), Representative Ana Hernandez (D-Houston),Senator Borris Miles (D-Houston), Representative Armando Walle (D-Houston), Representative Chris Turner (D-Arlington), Representative Gene Wu (D-Houston), Representative Vikki Goodwin (D-Austin) for attending. Thank you, Dr. Suzanne Pritzker for your leadership of this program. I would also like to thank my former staffer and UH alum Katharine Ligon for chairing the event and Januari Leo for planning and organizing.

From left to right: Senator John Whitmire, Dean Alan Dettlaff, Representative Coleman, Dr. Suzanne Pritzker, and Katharine Ligon.

Representative Coleman’s award.

Dr. Suzanne Pritzker (far left) and Executive Director of the Legislative Study Group Raul Lopez (far right) with UH GCSW students participating in the 2019 Austin Legislative Internship Program: Marissa Gorena, Merci Mohagheghi, Brittany Sharp, Elizabeth Churaman, Sophia Creede, Donisha Cotlone, Ali Schoon, Eli Davis, Sharon Jacob, and Santiago Cirnigliaro.

Dean Alan Dettlaff welcomes attendees.

Please Join Us:
HBO’s Traffic Stop Documentary Screenings
in Houston and Austin

The University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs and Representative Garnet Coleman would like to invite you to two very exciting events. The UH Hobby School is hosting two free, public screenings of the Academy Award-nominated HBO documentary Traffic Stop. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with the subject of the film, Ms. Breaion King, and the film’s directors, David Heilbroner and Kate Davis. At the Austin screening, Ms. King’s lawyer, Erica Grigg, will also be on the panel. Please see below for details.

TUESDAY, FEB. 19th | DOORS AT 5:30
The first screening will be held in the Texas Capitol in Austin on Tuesday, February 19th. Doors will open at 5:30pm and the screening will begin at 6:00pm, followed by the panel and an opportunity for a Q & A session.



The second screening will be held in Houston’s historic Emancipation Park in the Cultural Center on Wednesday, February 20th. Doors will open at 6:30pm and the screening will begin at 7:00pm, followed by the panel and an opportunity for a Q & A session.


About the Film

“In 2015, African-American schoolteacher Breaion King was stopped for a minor traffic violation in Austin, Texas — and what should have been a routine encounter quickly escalated into a harrowing arrest that was captured in detail by police dash cams.

From the Emmy- and Peabody Award-winning team of director Kate Davis and producer David Heilbroner (HBO’s The Newburgh Sting, Southern Comfort and Jockey) and nominated for an Academy Award for Documentary Short Subject, Traffic Stop illuminates timely, resonant issues of race and law enforcement while offering an intimate portrait of one woman in the wake of her traumatic arrest.

On June 15, 2015, a car driven by vibrant, 26-year-old African-American schoolteacher Breaion King was pursued by a police officer in Austin, Texas. As seen on the patrol car’s dash cam, Officer Bryan Richter closed in on King’s car over the course of several blocks, and eventually caught up with her in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant, where she exited her car.

Ordered to return to her vehicle, the 108-pound King soon found herself in a brutal struggle with Officer Richter, who was eventually joined at the scene by two other police officers, as dash cams and interior cameras recorded the events that followed. En route to the county jail, handcuffed in the back seat of a backup police officer’s squad car, King engaged the officer in a surprisingly candid conversation about race.

Traffic Stop juxtaposes raw footage of King’s arrest and conversation with scenes from her everyday routine, offering a vivid portrait of a woman whose life is forever changed one afternoon by a sudden encounter with law enforcement.”

What To Watch This Week:

Our video of the week is from the Texas Tribune featuring CEO of the Tribune Evan Smith and our new House Speaker, Representative Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton) during a one-on-one last week in Austin. You can watch below or click here.


Song of the Week

Our song of the week is “Glory” by Common and John Legend.

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