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A Day in the Life of a Representative: Mary Elizabeth Coleman

This article is one of a three-part series exploring the day-to-day lives of state representatives, from floor debates to committee hearings and more. 

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — One of the things Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman enjoys the most about working in the Capitol is that there is no typical workday.

“It’s a really long, full day, but it’s a fun day because you’re going from one issue to another issue to another issue. it’s fast-paced, but it’s really fun,” Coleman said.

Although her time spent in the Capitol varies depending on where the legislature is at in session, Coleman said it is not uncommon to have 16 hour days during some of the busier days. 

Coleman serves on the Judiciary Committee as well as the Special Committee on Litigation Reform. She also chairs the Children and Families Committee. About one-third of her time is spent in committees while the rest of her time is spent on the floor and meeting with interested parties, she said. 

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Although visitors have been sparse due to COVID-19, Coleman enjoys getting to meet with constituents in Jefferson City. 

“When somebody from home comes and is able to see the work that we’re doing and weigh in on a policy that they care about, that is absolutely the best part of the day,” Coleman said. “The only thing that’s better than that is when you get to solve a constituent’s problem.” 

During her three years serving, Coleman has learned relationships are paramount. 

“There is nothing that happens in this building that isn’t done because of a relationship,” Coleman said. “We’re a collaborative body, and you just can’t do it alone.” 

Coleman feels as though her biggest achievement in the legislature thus far has been the passing of fellow GOP Rep. Nick Schroer’s HB 126. She worked on the legislation, which passed in 2019, with Schroer. 

“To know that because of the work we did there, we have gone from having literally thousands of abortions a year to less than 100 is incredibly meaningful work,” Coleman said. “I don’t know that there’s anything that I’ll ever do that will mean more to me personally.”