Rep. Diana Dierks on the House floor.
By John Celock
Kansas lawmakers this week advanced legislation that would allow for the state to issue license plates to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease.
In a quick – but emotionally charged debate – the state House of Representatives passed the bill that would make Kansas one of several states to have a special plate for Alzheimer’s awareness. The bill also will allow military veterans to purchase decals to place on their license plates to signify special awards including the Purple Heart and Silver Star. The bill now heads to the state Senate.
“Alzheimer’s is a serious disease,” Speaker Pro Tempore Peggy Mast (R-Emporia) said in a floor speech. “It is a story of trial and tribulation of a family losing a loved one that requires inner strength.”
Mast dedicated her floor speech to speaking about the impact Alzheimer’s has on the family members and caregivers of those with the disease. She spoke about how they work to remember a loved one who has failing memory from the disease.
“It is a story of dedication and learning to cling the memory of your loved one,” Mast said.
Speeches by Mast and Rep. Diana Dierks (R-Salina) moved several House members to tears before the vote. Most of the debate centered on the Alzheimer’s part of the bill. Rep. Barbara Ballard (D-Lawrence), who was carrying the bill, noted that the decals would be a way to “help honor the military.” The measure was one of several lawmakers considered regarding the military on Tuesday’s Military Appreciation Day in Topeka.
Dierks talked about her mother having Alzheimer’s and how the disease can strike at any age.
“My mom had Alzheimer’s and I watched a courageous lady looking at me and not knowing who I was,” Dierks said. “At times she would have lucid moments and remember me as a little girl.”