Garnet F. Coleman has served the people of District 147 in the Texas House of Representatives continuously since 1991. Throughout his years of service, Representative Coleman has earned a reputation as a diligent leader in the areas of health care, economic development and education. He is currently the Senior ranking member of the Public Health Committee as well as the Chairman of the County Affairs Committee. Representative Coleman also serves as a member of the Select Committee on Mental Health.
For many years Representative Coleman has been deeply committed to expanding access to health care for all Texans. To further this goal he serves as a member of President Obama’s State Legislators for Health Reform, which is a working group of 32 state legislators dedicated to advancing the need for health reform in their communities. Representative Coleman also is a member of the State Innovation Exchange, an organization that promotes and advances key progressive economic and social policies. Additionally, he is on the Board of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee where he advocates for the interest of Democratic state legislators.
Some of his most significant legislative accomplishments include joint authoring legislation that simplified access to children’s Medicaid for more than 600,000 children in Texas who were eligible for the program but were not enrolled because of bureaucratic barriers. He also helped secure an increase of $161.5 million for at-risk child care services and joint authored legislation that created the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in Texas, which makes low-cost health insurance available to more than 400,00 children from working families.
Representative Coleman’s legislative efforts have been recognized in numerous ways. On two occasions he was named to the prestigious Texas Monthly Ten Best Legislators List, and in 2005 he received the Eli Lilly Reintegration Award for his efforts to increase services and decrease the stigma associated with mental illness. Most recently, he was awarded the Texas Academy of Family Physicians’ 2009 Patient Advocacy Award.
Representative Coleman has served as the Chair of the Legislative Study Group, a non-partisan house caucus dedicated to the development of sound public policy, since 2003 when he was elected to the position by more than 40 of his colleagues. In addition, Representative Coleman has the honor of being a past chairman and current member of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus. As Chairman, Representative Coleman coordinated efforts among members of the Caucus to help preserve the Top Ten Percent Rule, which assists historically-underrepresented students in gaining admission to Texas’ top institutions of higher learning.
Striving to increase economic development in Texas, Rep. Coleman has been instrumental in passing legislation fostering urban redevelopment. He authored and passed legislation that created the Greater Southeast Management District, the Downtown Management District and the Fourth Ward and East Montrose Improvement Districts. Additionally, he passed legislation creating Houston’s convention center hotel and expanding the convention center itself. Representative Coleman also authored legislation allowing the creation of a commercial and industrial development zone in Harris County, which is designed to promote economic development along the transportation corridors that link Houston-area transportation nodes.
Outside his legislative work, Representative Coleman remains active and involved in the Houston community. He serves on the boards of the Mid-Town Redevelopment Authority, the National Mental Health Association, and the Ensemble Theater. In 1991, Representative Coleman founded S.M.A.R.T. Kids, a youth development program that provides much-needed tutoring for inner-city students.
Raised in Houston, Representative Coleman attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. and in 1990 graduated from the University of St. Thomas cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts. He also completed the prestigious Harvard University Senior Executive Program for State and Local Government.
Representative Coleman and his wife, Angelique, reside in Houston’s University Oaks neighborhood. They have two children, Austin and Evan.