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Michael R. Johnson

Of Counsel

For more than 40 years, Mike has served as bond counsel to state and local governments and as counsel to lenders, underwriters and developers in connection with a wide range of public and public-private financings.

In recent years, Mike has devoted increasing amounts of time to volunteer work, including four years as a member of the Board of Education and Treasurer of Denver Public Schools and as a member of the board of the Colorado Association of School Boards.

Bond Counsel, Lenders’ Counsel, Developers’ Counsel

Colorado State Treasurer
  • Building Excellent Schools Today (B.E.S.T) – bond counsel for all financings to date, eleven financings aggregating $1.57 billion for 175 Colorado K-12 schools; drafted legislation, represented Treasurer re IRS ruling
  • Unemployment Insurance financing – bond counsel for $625,000,000 financing to fund the State Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund; drafted legislation
    Higher Education Federal Mineral Leasing Program – bond counsel for two pooled higher education capital construction financings, $297 million benefiting 12 State higher education institutions; drafted legislation
  • Colorado Recovery and Reinvestment Finance Act of 2009, C.R.S. title 11, article 59.7 – drafted State statute to implement the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
    State Pension Bonds – represented State Treasurer and drafted HB 15-1388 to issue pension obligation bonds to fund PERA’s unfunded liability; passed in House, failed in Senate
Colorado Department of Transportation and its enterprises
  • Transportation Revenue Anticipation Notes (TRANs) – bond counsel for all TRANS issued to date, nine financings aggregating $2.2 billion; drafted legislation, litigated test case on behalf of CDOT and Governor
  • FASTER – pro bono public finance counsel for Governor Ritter’s Blue Ribbon Transportation Panel and drafted resulting legislation, Funding Advancements for Surface Transportation and Economic Recovery Act of 2009, C.R.S. title 43, article 4 (FASTER)
  • Central Denver I-70 P3 – bond counsel for December 2017 financing I-70 through central Denver
  • US 36 P3 – bond counsel for two financings 
  • I-70 West Peak Period Shoulder Lanes Project – bond counsel
  • Statewide Bridge Projects – bond counsel for $300 million financing of State bridges
  • CDOT building financings – bond counsel for two recent financings of CDOT buildings
Intergovernmental transportation projects
  • E-470 Public Highway Authority – bond counsel for 21 financings aggregating $4 billion; litigated TABOR test case
  • Northwest Parkway Public Highway Authority – bond counsel for original $416 million financing and 2007 $630 million P3
  • Regional Transportation District Eagle P3 – counsel to the developer,  Denver Transit Partners (a joint venture of Macquarie and Fluor), for P3 financing of three new rail lines
  • Roaring Fork Transportation Authority – drafted Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) Act on behalf of governments in the Roaring Fork Valley and bond counsel for all financings; drafted legislation
Denver Public Schools
  • Bond counsel for 30 financings, $4 billion principal amount, including financings to fund unfunded pension liability and merge DPS retirement plan into PERA; currently working on a teacher housing financing
Military housing P3’s
  • Lender/underwriter’s counsel for 66 financings aggregating in excess of $7.8 billion in principal amount throughout the United States
Denver Homeless Pay for Success financing
  • Transaction counsel for Colorado’s first Pay for Success financing
Other states and local governments
  • Bond counsel to a variety of other states and local governments, including State of Wyoming, Colorado Department of Corrections, Boulder County, Pueblo County, Larimer County, Pitkin County, City of Pueblo, City of Aspen and several other Colorado cities, counties, school districts and authorities
TABOR Expert
First TABOR public finance case
  • Holding that taxes and bonds can be voted in a single question; counsel to all three governments in Bickel, et al. v. City of Boulder, Boulder Valley School District and Boulder County, 885 P.2d 215 (Colo. 1994)
Test case that authorizes lease-purchase/certificate of participation financings under TABOR
  • Counsel to Boulder County in Boulder County v. Dougherty, Dawkins, Strand & Bigelow Incorporated, 890 P.2d 199 (Colo. App. 1994)
Case that validated pre-TABOR bonds and ability to raise taxes without post-TABOR voter approval to pay bonds and to finance property tax abatements and refunds
  • Counsel to bondholders in Bolt, et al. v. Arapahoe County School District Number Six a/k/a Littleton Public Schools, et al., 898 P.2d 525 (Colo. 1995)
Leading case on enterprises and grandfathering of existing obligations under TABOR
  • Counsel to E-470 (and the firm responsible for TABOR interpretation adopted by court) and ten governmental entities that filed amicus briefs in Nicholl v. E-470 Public Highway Authority, et al., 896 P.2d 859 (Colo. 1995)
Case regarding CDOT TRANs issued to finance T-Rex and other major statewide projects
  • Counsel to CDOT and the Governor in In re Interrogatories on House Bill 99-1325, 979 P.2d 549 (Colo. 1999)
Case holding that local voter approval is sufficient (no statewide vote required) to permit tax increases under State school finance act
  • Counsel to Colorado Municipal League and Special District Association in Mesa County Bd. of County Comm’rs v. State of Colorado, 203 P.3d 519 (Colo. 2009)

  • The Best Lawyers in America©, Public Finance Law, 2013-2020
  • Super Lawyers® 2009-2010