Know Your Legislator: John Kefalas

Democrat John Kefalas is one of three new legislators coming from Larimer County, and will be representing House District 52, formerly held by Republican Bob McCluskey.

In the Rocky Mountain Chronicle out of Fort Collins, Kefalas revels some of his upcoming plans for next session, and what it’s like going through freshman orientation. Priorities?

From the article:

“I would say that my legislative priorities are going to focus on essentially extending or reflecting my campaign priorities,” says Kefalas, and that means an emphasis on healthcare, education and poverty.

Future bills?

The freshman legislator is looking into introducing a bill that would allow Colorado State University to offer health insurance to graduate students.

He also has plans for a law that would require healthcare workers who conduct kidney dialysis operations to be certified or licensed.

“This particular issue was brought to my attention by people in my district,” Kefalas says. “I believe that’ll be a second bill that I would be introducing because it does warrant attention.”

Committees and Allies?

Kefalas will be on the House Health and Human Services Committee, and was set to be on the Local Government Committee, until that assignment was changed just yesterday to to the Finance Committee, a spot where his GOP predecessor was also assigned.

“Having worked down in Denver [as the director of the Colorado Progressive Coalition’s Tax Fairness Project] I see some of my allies as groups that focus on addressing poverty and self-sufficiency issues,” says the legislator.

Some of those groups include Housing Colorado, which advocates for affordable housing, and the Paycheck Away Project, a listening tour that wrapped up before the election and aimed to educate lawmakers about citizens living paycheck to paycheck. Kefalas will also work with and support the Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care Reform. Lawmakers created the panel during the last session to examine and propose healthcare changes.

Kefalas also served in the Peace Corps in El Salvador, and has won numerous awards for social justice work.

What’s Going On In Orientation?

“We’ve done some mock sessions and committee hearings and have been on the floor of the chambers, so overall it’s going really well,” says Kefalas, who’s working his way through the legislature’s freshman orientation.

“It’s also been an opportunity to connect with the other freshman legislators, including Democrats and Republicans, so we’ve started to build some relationships there.”

In total, there are 31 freshman legislators this session.

Erin Rosa was born in Spain and raised in Colorado Springs. She is a freelance writer currently living in Denver. Rosa's work has been featured in a variety of news outlets including the Huffington Post, Democracy Now!, and the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, an alternative-weekly in Northern Colorado where she worked as a columnist covering the state legislature. Rosa has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for her reporting on lobbying and woman's health issues. She was also tapped with a rare honorable mention award by the Newspaper Guild-CWA's David S. Barr Award in 2008--only the second such honor conferred in its nine-year history--for her investigative series covering the federal government's Supermax prison in the state. Rosa covers the labor community, corrections, immigration and government transparency matters. She can be reached at