Democratic state Senator entering treatment for alcohol use disorder

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Democratic state Sen. Faith Winter at the Capitol, March 1, 2023.

Updated at 5:36 p.m. on April 4, 2024

State Sen. Faith Winter, the number three Democrat in the state Senate, is entering treatment for alcohol use disorder.

The Broomfield lawmaker announced Thursday that she is stepping down as chair of the Senate Transportation & Energy Committee in order to focus on her health. Winter is also the Senate’s Assistant Majority Leader. Her statement did not address whether she will keep her leadership role for now.

“I apologize to anyone who was affected by my actions and I appreciate your understanding,” Winter said in her statement. “Thank you for respecting me and my family’s privacy at this time.”

Winters' announcement comes a day after she appeared to be possibly intoxicated during a meeting in Northglenn to discuss a state plan to open a mental health transitional living facility in the area. 

The plan, which comes from the Office of Civil and Forensic Mental Health, has been met with controversy from nearby residents, as sex offenders who have been cleared for transitionary rehabilitation could live within those homes. However, the state says there are no current plans to admit sex offenders into the facility.

The meeting grew contentious, and Winter’s speech at times was slurred while defending her stance on opening the facility. She occasionally struggled to respond to feedback from the crowd.

Winter addressed the situation in her statement.

“I deeply regret my behavior last night. I made a mistake and I’m truly sorry for any inconvenience or discomfort I caused. I take full responsibility for my actions and am committed to making things right,” she stated. “I especially apologize to the City of Northglenn and the citizens that came out. I deeply care about your thoughts and community.”

Winter was first elected to the state House in 2014. Four years later she ran for Senate, flipping a Republican-held seat. She won reelection in 2022 for a term that runs through 2027.

Early in her legislative career, Winter went public with sexual harassment allegations against fellow Democratic Rep. Steve Lebsock. The House eventually voted to expel him and the case sparked reforms to the legislature’s workplace harassment policy.

Since then, Winter has worked on numerous bills around preventing and punishing harassment, including a measure this session to require dating apps to do more to protect people from dangerous users.

She was also involved in the multi-year effort to pass paid family leave, which was eventually approved by voters in 2020. More recently, many of her bills have focused on transportation and housing.

There is just over a month left in this year’s legislative session.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described Winter as the Assistant Minority Leader. She is the Assistant Majority Leader.