Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Colorado Sen. Mike Johnston Update

I spend most of my update time talking about my kids, not just because they are funny, but because they are omnipresent.

But this one is about my parents.

My parents have been married for 41 years; they are both fervent Catholics but were not originally married in the Catholic Church because my dad was married once before. Since I was in high school, they have been talking about getting married in the Catholic Church and renewing their vows. But along the way they were too busy worrying about everyone else, raising us, supporting a community, building a business. There was never time.

Seven years ago, my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. This past November, his care became serious enough that we had to move him to a memory care facility, and last month he was hospitalized with pneumonia and we were worried.

Six months earlier I had agreed to lead a tribute to the fight against Alzheimer’s on the Senate floor. I had always hoped my dad would be there, but he was still hospitalized, so my mom came to the Capitol with my sister Michelle to be a part of the event. With my dad gone, she ended up sitting next to an amazing woman named Shelly Wells, who lost her husband to Alzheimer’s a week earlier. While they talked, I gave this tribute on the Senate floor by talking about my dad:
Alzheimers Tribute on Senate Floor
Watch the Video
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After a powerful morning, my mom went back to the hospital to check on my dad. He was alert and in good spirits, delighted to see my mom and move around. One of their longtime friends and favorite priests came to visit. And while they were all there together, and all healthy, my mom holding my dad’s hand in a hospital bed, they renewed their vows and got married in the Catholic Church.

It is a time of deep gratitude, for what my parents gave to me, and gave and will continue to give to each other.

This last week I introduced a bill to provide Alzheimer’s Funding to the Anschutz Medical Campus to do research on Alzheimer’s treatment and prevention. It is a small first step, but for the 100,000 Colorado families struggling with Alzheimer’s, like ours, it is an important one.

Updates from the Capitol
Even though the legislative session is almost over, I’m still hard at work on several bills. Here are the highlights:

Regulating Edible Marijuana Products (HB14-1366): The legalization of marijuana has introduced a plethora of new issues across the state, one of the most pressing of which is keeping marijuana out of the hands of children. Edible marijuana products, in particular, pose a number of challenges, but HB14-1366 will help parents, educators, and others to identify food products that contain marijuana. This bill will be heard on the Senate floor on May 1.

Colorado's Jessica’s Law: HB14-1260 authorizes the maximum sentence of natural life in prison for sex offenses committed against children under the age of 12 when the offender was 10 years older than the child. The bill recently passed the Senate and is headed to the Governor for signature. Though we can’t directly prevent children from enduring trauma, we can promise that we will do everything in our power to fight for their justice.

The Marketplace Fairness & Small Business Protection Act: HB14-1269 would require online retailers to pay the same sales tax as their bricks-and-mortar counter-parts. This increases state revenues and also protects local businesses in communities across the state. This bill will be debated on the Senate floor this week.

Multiple DUIs: I am the Senate sponsor of HB14-1036, which makes multiple DUI offenses—four offenses over any period of time or three offenses over seven years—a felony. Driving under the influence jeopardizes the safety of countless citizens, and repeated offenses must be met with an appropriately severe penalty.

Extending Statute of Limitations for Hit and Run: SB14-213 extends the criminal statute of limitations for hit-and-runs resulting in death from 5 to 10 years. This is an important step for ensuring that victims of this crime and their families have an opportunity justice.

In the News
Extending Statute of Limitations for Hit and Run (9News)
Multiple DUIs (Denver Post)
Protections Regarding Edibles (Denver Post and Fort Collins Coloradoan)
Jessica’s Law (Grand Junction Daily Sentinel)

Ken Gordon Memorial: As many of you know, former State Sen. Ken Gordon passed away last month. Ken was an unusually gifted and compassionate man who made those around him better in every way. It was an honor to pay tribute to a man who changed the face of Colorado.

Anything we should do more of, less of, or just do better? We'd love your feedback. Send it to us via Kadie Morgan at


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