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Lawmaker 'Overwhelmed' As Colorado Bill Based On Late Husband's Notes Becomes Law

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) - Four years after her husband passed away, State Rep. Janet Buckner found notes he'd written about a bill he wanted to pass.

Janet Buckner (3)
(credit: CBS)

Those notes formed the basis for a bill that Gov. Jared Polis signed into law Friday.

"Janet you know he's with us today, you know that," Polis told Buckner just before he signed the bill in a ceremony at Overland High School. Her late husband, former State Rep. John Buckner, was the principal at the Aurora school for 17 years.

Jared Polis (2)
(credit: CBS)

"This is so exciting and almost overwhelming," said Buckner.

When John died, she took his seat in the Colorado Legislature and picked up where he left off.

"We had many conversations about ... why weren't kids of color or kids who didn't have means, why were they not given the opportunity to take advance of courses so they could excel? I found my husband's handwritten notes about this idea."

Jared Polis (1)
(credit: CBS)

She turned those notes into a bill that requires students be automatically placed in advanced classes based on performance, not prejudice.

Buckner thanked two students who helped to pass the bill.

"These young ladies were me when I was a young girl. They were not encouraged to take advanced classes."

Janet Buckner (2)
(credit: CBS)

She said she is honored to carry a bill her husband envisioned but didn't live to see passed.

"Here it is coming to life and it means so much to me and my family," she said.

Janet Buckner (1)
(credit: CBS)

Buckner's bill is among eight education-related bills the governor signed into law Friday. They include the School Finance Act -- which increases school funding by hundreds of millions of dollars -- and bills overhauling the Read Act, encouraging apprenticeships and internships in high schools, putting social workers in elementary schools and expanding the reduced school lunch program to kids in high school.

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