Rep. Coleman Wants University of Houston in the Big 12
September 1, 2011

With Wednesday’s announcement that Texas A&M is jumping ship and moving to the SEC, the Southeastern Conference, State Representative Garnet Coleman believes the University of Houston should get a close look by the Big 12.

Here’s the statement released by Rep. Coleman. We’ll see what happens.

HOUSTON – Representative Garnet F. Coleman (D-Houston) renewed his call for the University of Houston to be invited to join the Big 12 and issued the following statement upon news of Texas A&M giving notice that it will be leaving the league. With Texas A&M officially announcing that they plan to leave the Big 12, the conference needs at least one other school to remain viable:

“As I have made clear before, no other school makes as much sense for the Big 12 as does the University of Houston.

There is no doubt that Texas A&M’s departure leaves a Texas-sized void in the conference. A&M is a Tier One university, the second largest school in the state, and a university steeped in Texas tradition. While these will be difficult shoes to fill, no other potential candidate will be able to fulfill this role like UH.

Outside of UT and A&M, UH is the only other public Tier One university in the state. It is the flagship university of the state’s largest city and one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country. Along with this comes a giant media market, a potentially huge fan base, and a large amount of alumni itching for UH to finally be able to compete with the country’s best programs. Like the city of Houston itself, UH is a burgeoning and dynamic institution just waiting to vault into the national spotlight.”

What Passage of HB 1, The State Budget, Means to Texans
April 4, 2011

From doomsday predictions to claims of fiscal responsibility, the new state  budget passed by Texas Lawmakers in the House Sunday night is certain to have a huge impact on you and your family.

We already know that school districts around the state are getting substantially less funding, $8 Billion dollars less,  and are being forced to layoff  teachers and make cuts that hurt the classrooms.

Some also fear that nursing homes will also shutdown and there will be massive job losses around the state. 

After the vote on House Bill 1, elected leaders reacted along party lines.  I’m posting the full statements I’ve received so far. Starting first with a statement from republican Governor Rick Perry followed by statements from several Houston democrats.

Statement by Gov. Rick Perry on Passage of House Bill 1 

“Today’s action by the House is another step toward achieving fiscal responsibility and ensuring state government lives within its means. House members set priorities for state spending and found savings, and thanks to their leadership, this budget paves the way to help Texas recover from the impacts of the national economic recession.

 “You cannot tax or spend your way to prosperity, and Texans expect their elected leaders to govern under that truth when it comes to taxpayer dollars. I look forward to working with members of the Senate as we continue to move a budget through the legislative process that lays the foundation for a prosperous future while funding our state’s priorities, and preserving the balance of the Rainy Day Fund without raising taxes on families or employers.”

Representative Farrar Takes a Stand Against ‘Job-Killing’ State Budget

AUSTIN, TX–The Texas House of Representatives voted 98 to 49 to approve $27 billion in cuts to public schools, cuts to nursing home and health care services, and cuts to jobs from the state budget over the next two years.  House Democratic Leader Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) commented that, “Writing a budget in tough economic times is about setting priorities.  In my opinion, the Republicans in control got the priorities all wrong.  Instead of rolling up their sleeves and doing the hard work they were elected to do, the Republican majority in the House voted for a ‘cuts-only’ budget that will cost our state hundreds of thousands of jobs, and devastate public education and nursing home care.”

“Instead of working on real solutions to protect our priorities in the state budget, the Republican majority was more interested in scoring ideological points and partisan politics. 

A recent report by the state’s non-partisan Legislative Budget Board indicated that teacher layoffs and other cuts included the budget would have a ripple effect, eventually costing over 325,000 jobs.

“This fiscal mess and our state’s ongoing structural deficit are result of corporate tax loopholes and Governor Perry’s insistence that the Legislature pass a ‘cuts only’ budget.  That is why House Democrats support a plan protect our state’s important priorities through a mix of smart budget cuts, using the state’s Rainy Day Fund savings account, and closing massive corporate tax loopholes that prevent some big businesses to pay their fair share to fund our schools. 

 “Almost eighty years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt led our country and passed the New Deal — helping to secure the future for generations.  By failing to protect our priorities in this budget, Texas House Republicans will have taken a major step backwards in history,” Representative Farrar concluded.

 Statement from Rep. Coleman on House Bill 1

 Austin–Representative Garnet F. Coleman (D-Houston) released the following statement in response to his vote against House Bill 1: 

I refuse to vote for a budget that will hurt children, harm our elderly, and risk the lives of Texans. In my 20 years as a state legislator, I’ve never seen a budget so devastating.  

The cuts in House Bill 1 are unsustainable and cut into the marrow. Our state may never recover from the cuts to essential state services in this bill, and maybe that’s the design. 

Texas should pass a budget that funds the needs of Texans. All we’ve done today is move around the deck chairs as the Titanic sinks.

State Representative Carol Alvarado Votes Against HB 1

 AUSTIN// State Representative Carol Alvarado voted against House Bill 1, the proposed House version of the state budget.  

“HB 1 is not a budget I can support.  The deep cuts seen in the proposal are detrimental to our public education system, our healthcare services and our state.  This proposal will put over 300,000 public and private sector jobs in jeopardy, affect the way we educate our children for years to come, close over 80% of Texas nursing homes,  have disastrous effects to our mental health services, and make it harder for students to pay for higher education on top of already rising tuition rates. ” said Alvarado. 

 “We should not have looked at a cuts-only approach to solving our budget shortfall.  We have a structural deficit that is not going away and although it is understandable that in tough times we all must look at ways to live within our means, we must also look for lasting solutions.  Just like Texas families do in tough times, we should be seeking out all sensible solutions in our reach to implement along with some cuts, such as utilizing majority of the Rainy Day Fund, closing extraneous loopholes in our business taxes, identifying predictable streams of new revenue, and attracting new business enterprises, such as gaming, to our state.”     

Rep. Walle Responds to Passage of State Budget

AUSTIN — Today State Representative Armando Walle (D-Houston) released the following statement in response to passage of House Bill 1, the general appropriations act, by the Texas House of Representatives: 

“Over the course of the lengthy budget debate, I fought alongside my Democratic colleagues in the House to protect important state priorities — defending jobs and public education and keeping nursing homes open.  At the same time, House Republicans overwhelmingly demonstrated their unwillingness to protect those important priorities.

On Friday, 89 Republicans rejected an amendment which would have saved tens of thousands of teacher jobs and kept our public schools funded at current levels.  Republicans were also wrong to force legislators to make false choices between important priorities such as jobs and health care. 

We have a moral obligation to protect our most vulnerable citizens, especially children and the elderly, but unfortunately this budget leaves them behind.  I support a responsible strategy combining smart budget cuts, use of the Rainy Day Fund and closing corporate tax loopholes to fund all of our important state priorities and strengthen our economy

Anti-Bullying Bill Filed By Houston Lawmaker
March 7, 2011

(News Release)

Rep. Coleman Files Asher’s Law

HB 2343 Will Help Prevent Emotional Trauma and Suicide Among Youth

Austin–Representative Garnet F. Coleman (D-Houston) today filed Asher’s Law to help protect our children before they are terrorized and traumatized both physically and mentally. Earlier this session, Rep. Coleman filed HB 1386, identical legislation. With the permission of the Truong family, the parents of 13 year old Asher Brown who tragically took his life last summer after being repeatedly taunted by his peers, Rep. Coleman filed HB 2343 to dedicate the act to Asher Brown and to every child that has fallen victim to the severe emotional trauma caused by bullying and harassment.

“The Truongs are acting with grace and courage,” said Rep. Coleman. “They’re allowing a tremendous personal tragedy to be a catalyst for change in state statute. We should honor them.”

HB 2343 directs the Department of State Health Services and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to implement a program to 1) recognize students at risk of emotional trauma and /or committing suicide, 2) subsequently intervene effectively, and 3) refer students to mental health services if necessary.

“I watched close friends go through a similar heartbreaking experience. Their son had to change schools because he was repeatedly physically terrorized and tormented. He later committee suicide.” added Rep. Coleman. “I know the hurt I felt for them, and for the pain their son went through. I can’t even imagine the pain of losing your own child.”

HB 2343 will require public schools to report incidents of harassment annually to the TEA as well as to provide training to district employees regarding the prevention of such incidents. HB 2343 also prohibits discrimination based on association with a person, and protects the parents of students and whistleblowers who may report incidents of discrimination or harassment. Additionally, it addresses harassment and discrimination by the school district and district employees to students and other employees.

Added Rep. Coleman, “Every day, our children are emotionally traumatized and scarred. It is our responsibility to protect them before they are driven to suicide or become severely emotionally disturbed.”

HB 2343 also gives the school districts the ability to transfer the bully, instead of the current policy of transferring the victim.

Representative Coleman has filed similar legislation every Texas Legislative session since 2003. Prior to 2003, Representative Coleman was a staunch supporter of similar legislation by Former State Representative Harryette Ehrhardt.

Mayor Parker and Others Respond To Census Numbers
February 17, 2011

The new census numbers are out for the City of Houston and Texas.

Hispanics make up 38% of the state’s population while Houston did not gain as many new residents as predicted.

However, Mayor Annise Parker insists she will still move forward with a plan to add two new seats to city council.

I’ve posted her reaction to the census numbers along with reaction from State Reps. Garnet Coleman, Carol Alvarado and Jessica Farrar.

Mayor Parker Issues Statement About 2010 Census Numbers

“I am quite surprised by the numbers because all indications were that we had already reached a population of 2.1 million residents.  Because we are so close to that threshold, we are proceeding as planned with redistricting and the addition of two new City Council seats.  As part of this process, we have adopted a timeline and scheduled public meetings in each council district.  In addition, today, I appointed a special mayor’s committee to advise me as we proceed.” Committee members:
The Honorable Zinetta Burney
Penny Hess Butler
The Honorable Anthony Hall, Chair
The Honorable Roman Martinez
Mace Meeks
The Honorable Gordon Quan
Pat Sanchez
Adolfo Santos
The Honorable Sue Schechter

 More information on the Houston Census is available at:  http://2010.census.gov/news/xls/cb11cn37_tx_2010redistr.xls

 Statement from Legislative Study Group Chair Rep. Garnet F. Coleman on Release of U.S. Census Data
(AUSTIN) – Representative Garnet F. Coleman, chair of the Legislative Study Group House Caucus, released the following statement in response to the release of U.S. Census Data for the state of Texas:

“The Legislative Study Group looks forward to working with caucus members to ensure that Texas families are fairly represented by their government. The growth of communities and population shifts in our state as evidenced by the Census data show the need for a fair, open and transparent redistricting process that takes into account proper apportionment, socioeconomic and demographic data.” 

“We will work to ensure the interests of families and communities across the state are addressed.”

Statement from State Representative Carol Alvarado Regarding the Release of the 2010 United State Census Data 

 “With an increase of ­­­­­­­­4.3 million new residents, the release of the 2010 United States Census data confirmed the estimates that Texas has had a major growth in our population.  The data has also confirmed that this increase is directly related to the increase in our Latino community, which grew by a rate of 41.8% in our state and represents 37.6% of the overall Texas population.   

The Texas redistricting process should provide for fair and accurate representation of this data and should expand opportunities for Latinos.  The Latino community should receive three of the new Congressional seats or better and should be properly represented in the State Legislature and on the State Board of Education.”

State Representative Jessica Farrar

Austin, TX– “This Census data shows what lawmakers have known for generations.  Whether you are a Texan by birth or you ‘got here as soon as you could,’ Texas is a destination state that more and more people are proud to call home. 

These new Texas families cannot simply be welcomed.  The Texas Legislature must acknowledge our responsibility to these newest residents.  It must prop up the public schools, colleges, and universities, not gut them as the Republican supermajority is proposing.  To ensure a prosperous future, the Legislature must ensure that every new Texan has the opportunity to reach their full potential.

 With the new Census data, Texans deserve an open and honest redistricting process that ensures that their votes count.  The outcome of district boundaries should reflect the demographic growth and shifts in a way that maximizes, not minimizes, the votes of every Texan.  House Democrats will fight to protect the principle that every Texan be able to fully participate in the democratic process to elect the candidates of their choice. 

As the Legislature analyzes the new Census numbers, House Democrats will release periodic updates to help the public better understand the implications of the data.”

More Reaction From Local Leaders on Alleged HPD Beating
February 6, 2011

The videotape showing several Houston police officers kicking teen burglary suspect Chad Holley continues to create  shock waves. 

The videotaped has been broadcast repeatedly as local and national media report details of  the controversial story. 

State Senator Rodney Ellis and State Rep. Garnet Coleman have released statements in response to the tape: 

Ellis Responds to Holley Tape

 

“The actions of the HPD officers shown in the taped beating of Chad Holley were excessive, deplorable, and cannot be tolerated. These rogue officers not only brought unnecessary physical injury to Chad Holley, but have undermined the good work of the vast majority of HPD officers. They violated the trust of the community and must be dealt with accordingly.

We entrust officers of the law with an important duty to protect and serve. With that comes a heightened responsibility to act with temperance and appropriate force in any given situation.

As a city, we need to take a serious look at our practices and review public policy to prevent such injustices from occurring in the future. It is essential that we protect the relationship between the police and the community that is integral to public safety.”

 Statement from Rep. Coleman on Release of Chad Holley Video

 I’m appalled and deeply disturbed by the actions of the officers shown in the video. The kicking and stomping of a 15-year-old boy by these officers was brutal, unwarranted and shameful. It is especially disturbing when those charged with keeping us safe so blatantly abuse their power and violate our trust. These individuals are not above the law and must be appropriately dealt with.  

I applaud Mayor Parker and Police Chief Charles McClelland for dealing swiftly and directly with the bad actors. As the Houston Chronicle editorialized, individuals who have been trusted with power should be held to a higher standard. I will work with my colleagues to push legislation that reflects that standard into law.

 Moving forward, we must not let the deplorable actions of the few bad apples ruin the relationships between good officers and our community. It is through cooperation, mutual respect, and appropriate sanctions on officers who violate the public’s trust that we can ensure that all our communities are safe and that such actions never occur again.

Reps. Coleman And Farrar To Refile Dignity For All Students Act
October 1, 2010

(News release) 

(Houston, TX) – Representatives Garnet Coleman and Jessica Farrar announced today that they would again file and work to pass the Dignity For All Students Act to prohibit discrimination or harassment against students and employees of Texas public schools.  Recent news reports have highlighted the necessity for such legislation, including the most recent case of 13-year-old Asher Brown, who took his own life after enduring harassment and bullying at his school.

“Every student has the right to a public education, and every student has the right to a safe learning environment,” said Representative Coleman.  “My heart breaks for Asher Brown and his family, and every victim of bullying that has to go to school in fear.  I have filed this bill every legislative session since 2003.  It is high time that we passed this bill before any more children are bullied to suicide or life changing emotional distress.”

The Dignity For All Students Act prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of ethnicity, color, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or national origin.  Additionally, the bill prohibits discrimination based on association with a person, and protects both the parents of students and whistleblowers who may report incidents of discrimination or harassment.

“There are too many painful stories and tragic endings,” said Representative Farrar.  “When schools turn a blind eye towards discrimination and harassment, we have failed.  The Dignity for All Students Act will help set a tone in Texas that no type of discrimination will be tolerated in this state.”

The Dignity for All Students Act also directs Texas schools to take preventive steps by establishing a policy that includes LGBT youth that will help stem harassment before it becomes a problem.  It provides for data reporting on incidents of harassment in public schools as well as requiring school districts to undergo training on how to respond to and prevent harassment and discrimination at school.

The 82nd Legislature begins January 11, 2011.

###

Is It Time For Gaming In Texas?
May 24, 2010

Legislative Study Group House Caucus Announces Forum On Gaming

 

AUSTIN – Representative Garnet F. Coleman, Chair of the Legislative Study Group (LSG) House Caucus, announced today that the caucus would host a forum on the issue of gambling to help prepare members on the public policy implications of expanded gaming in Texas.

“This will be a Gaming 101 forum.  Members need to receive information about the public policy of gaming,” said Representative Coleman.  “We have the opportunity to look at what has happened in other states that have passed gaming, and review the long range impact for Texas.”

The LSG will host a forum on the issue, where members can learn about the intricacies of the issue.  All members of the Legislature are invited to attend.

Representative Coleman said, “In the year since session ended, there has been a legislative vacuum when it comes to this specific issue.  Members deserve to have as much information as possible as they prepare for the next legislative session, where various proposals for expanded gambling will certainly be proposed.”

Previously, House Democratic Caucus Leader Jim Dunnam had proposed creating a bipartisan ad hoc committee with LSG and the House Democratic Caucus, the House Republican Caucus and the Conservative Coalition Caucus.  Both the Republican Caucus and the Conservative Coalition declined the invitation.

“Representative Dunnam was correct, this is an important issue that needs to be discussed and studied publicly,” said Representative Coleman.  “With a revenue shortfall upwards of $18 billion in the next biennium there is a legitimate policy discussion that needs to happen.  Members need to know the pros and cons of expanded gambling and the potential impact on our state.”

Representative Coleman’s Statement on Passage of Historic Health Care Legislation
March 21, 2010

 

 Houston–State Representative Garnet F. Coleman (D-Houston) released the following statement in response to the passage of historic health care legislation by the U.S. House of Representatives.

We got it done. With President Obama’s signature, health care coverage will be the law of the land.

Thanks to the members of Texas’ Democratic Congressional Delegation for providing the votes and the hard work that got reform across the finish line. Their votes will help clean up the health care crisis in Texas that Rick Perry and Republican leaders have refused to address.

After years of being victimized by the colossal abuses of the health care status-quo, Texans and Americans scored a victory. The health care legislation passed today will give health insurance access to 31 million Americans and most of our state’s 6 million uninsured residents.

Today’s accomplishments take the advantage away from the insurance companies and put it back in the hands of Texans and the American people. No longer will Americans be driven into debt by health care costs, be denied coverage based on a preexisting condition, and be indiscriminately dropped from their policy when they’re sick and need it most.

Because of our dismal health standings, Texas stands to gain the most from this legislation. I intend to work hard to ensure that this legislation is implemented effectively in our state, so that quality health care becomes more affordable and more accessible for all of our families.

This legislation moves Texas and America forward. Our country is back on the right path.

Representative Coleman is available for comment.

Representative Coleman is a member of President Barack Obama’s 32-member White House Working Group of State Legislators for Health Reform.  He is also the chair of the County Affairs Committee in the Texas House of Representatives, chair of Progressive States Network, chair of the Legislative Study Group and senior ranking member of the Public Health Committee.

###

Governor Perry Blasted For Rejecting Race To The Top Funds
January 13, 2010

Rep. Coleman Statement On Rick Perry Refusing To Compete For Race to the Top Funds

 

(Houston)- Representative Garnet F. Coleman (D-Houston) released the following statement in response to Governor Perry’s refusal to allow Texas to compete for education dollars:

“It’s shocking that Governor Perry doesn’t even want to let Texas compete with other states for Race to the Top funds.  His argument against applying boils down to the fact that he doesn’t like the teacher that will grade his test.  This is an application that even awards points for his own pet policies – teacher incentive pay and charter school expansion.  He used $10 million in federal funds to create his own teacher incentive pay program in 2005, but he’s willing to go back on his own principles in an effort to score political points.

Maybe Governor Perry should take his own advice and not bother competing for reelection.  At least then Texas schoolchildren would have a fighting chance at a decent education.”

Attached, please find a letter that Representative Coleman sent Governor Perry prior to this decision.  In the letter, Representative Coleman wrote:

“While I disagree with some of the policy stances, they are but two of the many ways to receive points in the scoring matrix.  I believe you may take issue with some of the policy provisions that can receive points.  However, it is important to note that they are not all needed to receive possible grant funds.  Submitting the application for Race to the Top Funds will allow our state to compete with other states for grants.  Race to the Top is not like unemployment insurance stimulus funds, which you turned down because of possible “strings attached”.  This is a competitive program where states that do better will receive larger allocations.

It would be unwise to not let our state compete for funds that could benefit schoolchildren, especially in these tough economic times.  Race to the Top funds could be used for many different programs, like increasing student achievement, decreasing achievement gaps, and increasing the rate which students graduate from high school prepared for college and careers.”

How You Can Join The Annise Parker Team
December 20, 2009

Now that Mayor-elect Annise Parker has chosen  the leaders of  her transition team  she is asking regular Houstonians to help make a difference at city hall.

State Representative Garnet Coleman (D-Houston), Socialite/Republican fundraiser Nancy Kinder and Gilbert Garcia, who served as Parker’s campaign manager, will lead the transition but will not join her administration.

 By going to www.anniseparker.com , or sending an email to transition@anniseparker.com,  you can volunteer to join one of  the eight committees that will be selected to review city operations in eight departments:

The committees will review everything from Metro to Minority and Women business enterprise contracting, and then report back to Parker by mid-February.

“This process will set the tone for my administration,” said Parker. “I’m proud that such a diverse representation of  Houston business, government and community interest has stepped forward to lead the effort.”