Governor Signs Bill Establishing UH Medical School 


On Thursday, Governor Abbott signed HB 826 by Representative John Zerwas (R-Richmond) and me into law, officially creating the University of Houston College of Medicine.

It all started back in 2015 when I put a rider into the Texas Budget to get the ball rolling on a medical school for the University of Houston. In 2017, Representative Armando Walle (D-Houston) and me worked together to ensure the UH medical school rider was included in the Texas Budget again.

In October 2018, I wrote a letter to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in support of the medical school, which helped them make their decision to approve its creation.

One of the primary reasons I support the creation of the UH College of Medicine is because it will focus on educating primary care physicians. There is already a shortage of healthcare professionals and Texas is projected to need another 6,260 primary care physicians by 2030.

Also, even though Houston is home to the Texas Medical Center, significant health disparities persist in parts of the Greater Houston area.  The University of Houston is the right institution to reduce those persistent disparities because the College of Medicine will be able to integrate with the University’s existing health and health-related professions, colleges, and programs to mitigate the primary care shortfall in medically under-served areas.

Additionally, the College of Medicine will lift the research capabilities of many of the existing research centers and activities already occurring at the University of Houston.

This is a big accomplishment that I am proud to have played such a key role in.

Left to right: Rep. John Zerwas (R-Richmond) and Rep. Coleman (D-Houston) presenting the bill establishing the UH College of Medicine in Committee in the House Committee on Higher Education led by Chairman Chris Turner (D-Grand Prairie) in March. 

Texas House Passes My Bill to Make Schools Safer

This week, the Texas House voted in favor of my HB 1517  addressing our public schools. It will now head to the Senate where it will continue through the legislative process.

HB 1517  Relating 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, the Governor vetoed this bill in 2017. I hope that the Governor will finally sign this important legislation into law.

Chair Coleman Holds Press Conference Ahead of Hearing on His Important Bill to Protect Transgender Texans

In every legislative session since 2007, I have authored and filed a bill that gives transgender Texans the protection they both need and deserve.

In 2001, the Texas Legislature passed the “James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act,” allowing trial courts to impose stiffer penalties for crimes committed due to bias against the victims’ real or perceived “race, religion, color, sex, disability, sexual preference, age, or national origin.”

There are no similar protections available for victims of crimes caused because of bias against the victim’s gender identity or expression.

Like the other attributes currently listed, gender identity or expression is a universal trait with a historical basis for discrimination and violence.

The facts do not lie. Expanding the hate crimes statute to include transgender people is necessary. Just a couple weeks ago, Muhlaysia Booker, a transgender woman in Dallas was violently assaulted by a mob based on her gender identity. The entire assault was recorded, uploaded to social media, and garnered national attention. This is unacceptable and no Texan should be a target for violence based on who they are. We must protect all Texans. 

Press Conference on HB 1513

On Monday I held a press conference with the Joint Authors, members of the House LGBTQ Caucus, the House Democratic Caucus, and advocates ahead of laying out the bill later that evening in Committee.

Click here to watch the press conference. Follow along with time stamps below.

Press Conference opens with Rep. Garnet Coleman
“The best way to make change is to start. People have a better understanding of transgender Texans than before… There is no reason to not have transgender Texans under the Hate Crimes Act.” – Rep. Garnet Coleman

00:01:40 – Rep. Jessica González (D-Dallas)
“For over a decade, Chair Coleman has stood up for transgender and nonbinary Texans. He often stood alone. It is an honor to stand beside him today and it is a privilege to fight for the rights of Texans who all too often are ignored or even killed for simply existing.” Rep. Jessica González 00:04:30 – Rep. Julie Johnson (D-Dallas)
“We don’t have protections for some if we don’t have protections for all. When we allow hate for one group of people, we allow hate for all.”Rep. Julie Johnson 00:07:00 – Rep. Erin Zweiner (D-Driftwood)
“We know that the most vulnerable people to hate crimes are transgender women of color, with an average age of survival of 27.”Rep. Erin Zwiener

00:08:20 – Rep. Ron Reynolds (D-Missouri City)
“It’s time to put protections in statute…It’s time for us to move this in the right direction.”Rep. Ron Reynolds

00:10:11 – Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas)
“The person who was in the fight before any of us was Chairman Garnet Coleman…At a time that it wasn’t popular, when it wasn’t considered the right thing to do, Garnet Coleman was there fighting from the beginning.” – Rep. Rafael Anchia

00:14:00 – Rep. Mary González (D-Clint)
“[Chairman Coleman’s] bill is so critical to just recognizing and embracing people’s humanity. We are saying that everyone should have an opportunity to live their most authentic, healthy, and safe lives.”  – Rep. Mary González

00:16:00 – Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin)
“I am glad that the LGBTQ Caucus exists and it would not exist without people who care so hard like Chair Coleman.” – Rep. Celia Israel

00:17:00 Monica Roberts, Houston-based transgender rights activist
“Out of the 25 people that we lost to anti-trans violence in 2018, 22 of the 25 were black and Latino. 2 of those people were Texans and both of those Texans -Carla Pavon and Nikki Enriquez – were Latinx.” – Monica Roberts

“The lack of coverage under the hate crimes act has had deleterious effects on my community.” Monica Roberts

“It’s past time that the 1.4 million transgender Texans were added to the Byrd Hate Crimes bill…I thank all you legislators and members of the Caucus and Chairman Coleman for your efforts to do precisely that.” – Monica Roberts

00:20:30 – Rep. Jon Rosenthal (D-Houston)
“Right now, we’re seeing the effects of hate in our society. We have to eradicate it. I see this bill as a step in the right direction.”– Rep. Jon Rosenthal

00:21:00 – Coleman closes, recognizes activists and allies

“Advocacy is done through organizing and organizing is done through legislation. Sometimes it doesn’t pass, but it’s the way you organize around moving an issue.” Rep. Garnet Coleman

00:25:35 – Rep. Mary González (D-Clint)
“This one piece of legislation A) creates statute that recognizes and affirms B) changes the discourse that we are having in this building and C) continues in the larger strategic plan to end trans violence.” Rep. Mary González

00:26:30 – Monica Roberts
“The other important thing about hate crimes legislation is that it also sends a message to our attackers that violence against this group will not be tolerated – it will be punished. It also sends a message to the group that is being attacked that you matter. You matter to us and we will do whatever is possible to make sure that your human rights are protected because you DO matter as trans Texans.” Monica Roberts

00:27:00 – Chair Coleman closes

Committee Hearing on HB 1513

Click here to watch my HB 1513 being laid out and testified on in the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence. Begin at 01:40:00.Thank you to Chair Nicole Collier (D-Dallas) for allowing my HB 1513 to be heard in her Committee. I would also like to thank my Democratic colleagues on the Committee for their continued support of this bill: Speaker Pro Tem Joe Moody (D-El Paso), Rep. Jessica González (D-Dallas), and Rep. Leo Pacheco (D-San Antonio).

Thank you to the witnesses who traveled to the Capitol to testify in support of this bill:
Monica Roberts, Transgender Rights Advocate and Board Member of the Black Trans Advocacy Coalition
Claire BowTransgender Advocate/Activist
Stephanie PerdueTransgender Rights Advocate
Danielle SkidmoreEquality Texas Board Member and transgender Texan
Ash HallLGBTQ Policy Expert
Leslie McMurray, Transgender Education and Advocacy Coordinator at Resource Center 

Even in the face of demeaning and scientifically inaccurate testimony, the witnesses  remained strong in their convictions and I am honored to advocate for such a diverse, resilient community that stands up to hate on a daily basis. 

I am grateful for their continued support and I am honored to be an ally of the LGBTQ community. I will continue to fight to protect the rights of all Texans, regardless of gender identity, as I have for over two decades. HB 1513 is an important step forward in standing with our transgender community to let them know that they are invaluable and deserve protections under the Hate Crimes Act.


From left to right: Sam Smoot, Interim Executive Director of Equality Texas, witnesses Claire Bow, Monica Roberts, Stephanie Perdue, Ash Hall, Representative Garnet Coleman, and Leslie McMurray.

Rep. Coleman lays the bill out in front of the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. On the dais from left to right: Speaker Pro Tem Rep. Joe Moody (D-El Paso), Chair Collier (D-Dallas), Rep. Bill Zedler (R-Arlington), Rep. Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi), Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler), and Rep. Jessica Gonzalez (D-Dallas).

Pictured from left to right:
FRONT ROW: Rep. Jon Rosenthal (D-Houston), co-founding member of the first ever House LGBTQ Caucus, Rep. Erin Zweiner (D-Driftwood), Chair of House LGBTQ Caucus Rep. Mary González (D-Clint), Joint Author of HB 1513 and co-founding member of the LGBTQ Caucus Rep. Julie Johnson (D-Dallas), Joint Author of HB 1513 and co-founding member of the LGBTQ Caucus Rep. Jessica González (D-Dallas), Joint Author of HB 1513 and Chair of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas), author of HB 1513 and Chairman of the County Affairs Committee Rep. Garnet Coleman (D-Houston), co-founding member of the LGBTQ Caucus Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin), and Houston-based transgender rights activist Monica Roberts.
SECOND ROW: Joint Author of HB 1513 Rep. Ron Reynolds (D), Eli Davis from the Texas Legislative Study Group, Austin-based transgender rights advocate Stephanie Perdue, Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Rep. Chris Turner (D-Dallas), Mike Hendrix with the Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Rep. Vicki Goodwin (D), and Rep. Gina Hinojosa (D-Austin).


Houston OutSmart Magazine
Texas Lawmakers Seek to Expand Hate Crimes Law to Include Gender Identity
By Lourdes Zavaleta | April 29, 2019

Out in SA
Rep. Garnet Coleman Seeks to Add Gender Identity to Texas Hate Crimes Law
By Sam Sanchez | April 30, 2019

KVUE Austin
Lawmakers to discuss bill making violence against transgender Texans a hate crime
By Ashley Goudeau | April 29, 2019

Fox 7 Austin
Proposed hate crime bill would extend protections to those who identify as transgender
By Destiny Chance | April 29, 2019

Last week, Dallas Morning News published an in-depth story on my efforts to get this important bill to protect transgender Texans passed. Click here to read it. See below for highlights.
  • “In every iteration of the actual past hate-crimes act in Texas, there was a very strong attempt — I mean real strong attempt — to include transgender Texans,” [Representative Garnet Coleman] said. “I just never give up.”
  • “Coleman is adamant that ‘gender identity’ should have been included in the state’s hate-crime law from the outset.
In January, KUT also wrote a story about my efforts on this bill. Click here to read it. See below for highlights.
  • “I think there’s still a bias against people who are transgender. There’s still a bias against people who are gay and lesbian,” [Representative Garnet Coleman] told KUT. “There’s a bias.”
  • “From the perspective of change, change takes time,” [Representative Garnet Coleman] said. “But sometimes stars align and things happen.”

County Affairs members on the dais from left to right: Rep. Alex Dominguez (D-Brownsville), Rep. Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford), Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Houston), Chair Garnet Coleman (D-Houston), Rep. Doc Anderson (R-Waco), and Rep. Jon Rosenthal (D-Houston).

County Affairs Committee Hearing

On Thursday, the County Affairs Committee that I have chaired since 2009 held a hearing. See below for a list of bills we heard. Click here to watch the hearing.

SB 1480    –    Hinojosa
Relating to term limits for the board of hospital managers of the Nueces County Hospital District.
SB 2315   –     Hinojosa
Relating to the creation and operations of a health care provider participation program by the Nueces County Hospital District.
SB 1950     –   Seliger
Relating to the Donley County Hospital District.

Public Health members on the dais from left to right: Rep. Steve Allison (R-San Antonio), Rep. Evelina “Lina” Ortega (D-El Paso)Rep. James Frank (R-Wichita Falls), Rep. JD Sheffield (R-Gatesville), Rep. John Wray (R-Waxahachie)Chair Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston), Chair of County Affairs Committee Rep. Coleman (D-Houston), and Chair of the Calendars Committee Rep. Four Price (R-Amarillo), and Rep. Bobby Guerra (D-Mission).  

Public Health Committee Hearing

On Wednesday, the Public Health Committee that I have served on since 1993 held another hearing, led by Chair Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston).Click here to watch the hearing.

Click here for a list of bills we heard.

Public Health Committee Members
3rd Ward Community Free Dental Clinic
May 17-18 | 5:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Emancipation Park | 3018 Emancipation Avenue

Cartoon of the Week

Song of the Week

Our song of the week is the “Tempo” by Lizzo and Missy Elliot.

Categories: archived