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GMOs Have More Rights Than the People of Josephine County


Mary Geddry
[email protected]

Judge overturns ban on GMOs; state preemption used once again to deny right of local self-government

Corvallis, Oregon — May 17, 2016
Yesterday a Josephine County Circuit Court judge denied the will of the people of Josephine County by ruling that their prohibition on GMO crops, adopted at the ballot in May 2014, is unenforceable because a conflict with state law.

The basis of the judge’s decision was SB863, adopted by the state legislature in the fall of 2013 which places all authority over GMO seed in the hands of the state and prohibits local governments from interfering with that state authority. SB863, modeled after similar laws adopted in other states, is intended to protect corporate industrial agricultural practices over that of local, sustainable agriculture.

“It hurts to say so but yesterday’s decision is not surprising”, says Dana Allen, board member of the Oregon Community Rights Network. “So long as we allow the laws that favor corporate interests over people and nature we can expect our communities to be treated as wards of the state.”

“State preemption is but one of a number of corporate powers, privileges, and “rights” used to keep communities in a subordinate position to both state government and corporate interests”, says Kai Huschke, CELDF Northwest Organizer. “Oregon has a long history of preemption whether in agriculture, the timber industry, land use, minimum wage, housing, or health care such that the recognized conventional legal arrangement is that anything of commercial interest is kept in the hands of the corporate state leaving communities unable to make critical decisions about health, safety, welfare, and their future viability.”

Because of SB863 and decisions like the one coming out of Josephine County, a number of local community rights actions have emerged in different parts of the state (Columbia, Coos, Lane, Lincoln) in order to assert and protect the right of the people to govern in their own communities. The mobilizing issues have varied from pesticide use to LNG pipelines to methanol plants, but foundationally each effort is about asserting, through lawmaking, the right of local community self-government both in protection of fundamental rights and the rejection of imposed corporate projects.

“We need to realize that we are all in the same boat and that boat is sinking quickly”, says Michelle Holman, member of Community Rights Lane County. “Whether our issue is human rights, economic rights, protecting the environment, or stopping unwanted development, we have a structure of law that favors corporations over living breathing beings and that has to change.”

Oregonians for Community Rights, the political arm to the Oregon Community Rights Network, is moving a state constitutional amendment to secure and protect the Right of Local Community Self-Government such that authority to adopt law at the community level regarding sustainable agriculture, sustainable energy, sustainable economies, etc. cannot be preempted by the state. The law is a oneway valve allowing communities the ability to increase rights and protections not remove them as recognized by state, federal, or international law. Oregon’s Right of Local Community Self-Government amendment initiative is currently involved in a legal challenge with the state regarding broader petition circulation.

Additional Information , , and , , and

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Colorado Supreme Court Rules Local Self-Government State Constitutional Amendment Can Advance to Next Stage Toward Ballot

Press Release: Colorado Supreme Court Rules Local Self-Government State Constitutional Amendment Can Advance to Next Stage Toward Ballot


Upholds People’s Right to Initiative from Oil & Gas  Industry Challenge


Ben Price, National Organizing Director
[email protected]

MERCERSBURG, PA:  This week, the Colorado Supreme Court affirmed a decision of the Colorado State Title Board, clearing the way for a state constitutional amendment initiative to advance toward  the November ballot. The initiative guarantees the right of local community self-government to the people of Colorado.

The Community Rights measure was drafted by the Colorado Community Rights Network, in partnership with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). As communities across the state face a range of environmental and economic harms – including fracking and livable wage issues – Coloradans are advancing the right to local community self-government in order to secure the rights of people, communities, and nature, and protect against fracking and other activities that would violate those rights.

The challenge to the measure was filed by Tracee Bentley, President of the Colorado Petroleum Council and former Legislative Director for Governor John Hickenlooper, and Stan Dempsey, President of the Colorado Petroleum Association. The full text of the Court’s ruling wasted no ink in ruling against the oil and gas industry’s efforts  to keep the proposed amendment from the voters.

The Colorado Community Rights Amendment is officially designated as “Proposed Initiative 2015-2016 #40.”  The title of the amendment, as designated by the Colorado Secretary of State, is as follows:

An amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning a right to local self-government, and, in connection therewith, declaring that the people have an inherent right to local self-government in counties and municipalities, including the power to enact laws to establish, protect, and secure rights of natural persons, communities, and nature, as well as the power to define or eliminate the rights and powers of corporations or business entities to prevent them from interfering with those rights; and exempting such local laws from preemption or nullification by any federal, state, or international law if the local laws do not restrict fundamental rights or weaken legal protections for natural persons, their local communities, or nature.

“This is a great day for Coloradans, workers, our environment and communities across the state, and a major moment for people fighting the abuses of corporate power,” said Cliff Willmeng, organizer for the campaign. “We will now begin what could be considered the largest volunteer, grassroots campaign for a Colorado state ballot initiative in our state’s history. We aim to make democracy legal in the most important of places – where we live.”

CELDF’s National Organizing Director, Ben Price, stated, “The right to initiative has been affirmed in the Court’s decision, despite industry efforts to quash it. Today, the people of Colorado begin the work to make real the American Revolutionary ideal – and the inalienable right – of local community self-government.”

Coloradans for Community Rights (CCR), the grassroots organization formed to advance the 2016 amendment, has trained over 100 petitioners from across the state. With the Court’s decision, they are now beginning to gather the nearly 100,000 valid signatures necessary to place the measure on the November ballot. Organizations from across the state have endorsed the measure, and will be contributing volunteers.

Colorado Part of Growing National Movement

Colorado residents are advancing Community Rights as part of the broader Community Rights Movement building across the United States. Local communities and state Community Rights Networks across the country are partnering with CELDF to advance fundamental democratic, environmental, and economic rights. They have worked with CELDF to establish Community Rights and the Rights of Nature in law, and prohibit extraction,  fracking, factory farming, water privatization, and other industrial activities as violations of those rights. Communities are joining together within and across states, working with CELDF to advance systemic change – recognizing our existing system of law and governance as inherently undemocratic and unsustainable.


Additional Information

For additional information regarding the Colorado Community Rights Amendment, visit To learn about the Community Rights Movement, visit To read the amendment text, visit here.


About CELDF — Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit, public interest law firm providing free and affordable legal services to communities facing threats to their local environment, local agriculture, local economy, and quality of life. Its mission is to build sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the rights of nature.

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Right of Local Community Self Government Constitutional Amendment for Oregon Re-filed

An improved version of the amendment is ready for petition circulation
following the state’s rejection of an earlier version in July.

Friday, September 25, 2015
Media Contact: Mary Geddry
[email protected]

On the heals of filing of a nearly identical state constitutional amendment in Colorado, Oregonians for Community Rights (O4CR) has re-submitted a proposed constitutional amendment to the State of Oregon’s Elections Division that would secure the Right of Local Community Self-Government most specifically in placing community rights above corporate privilege.

The group had previously qualified a similar amendment initiative in the spring, but the Secretary of State made a determination in July that it did not clear certain requirements for broader petition circulation. Since July, the group chose to make a few changes to the amendment before refiling, though it still believes the state’s reasons for not accepting the older version would have been overturned by the courts.

Cleared Wednesday by the Secretary of State, O4CR will be out gathering the required 1,000 sponsorship signatures for the administrative review process to take place. The group is still aiming to be cleared for broader signature gathering to qualify for the November 2016 ballot.

The constitutional amendment is titled “The Right of Local Community Self-Government” and would codify into law the right of local community self-government, enabling the people and their local governments to protect fundamental rights and prohibit corporate activities that violate those rights. It would secure the authority of communities to put in place stronger rights and protections than those recognized at the state, federal, or international level.

“A growing number of communities in Oregon – let it be about Nestle taking a community’s water to oil and gas corporations piping unwanted LNG through Oregon to Monsanto controlling what food seed we can plant – are realizing that they are shut out of being able to protect the health and welfare
of people and nature where they live.”, said Eron King, board president of the Oregon Community Rights Network. “Sustainability is illegal today because our communities cannot say no to the unsustainable corporate projects”, says King.

Today corporations have more power to decide the future and fate of communities than the people in those communities. Corporations are legally protected and have greater “rights” over people, communities, and the environment that permit them to:

  • Grow uncontained GMOs
  • Build LNG pipelines
  • Spray toxic pesticides
  • Gentrify neighborhoods
  • Confine factory farm animals
  • Take private property for corporate use
  • Silence workers
  • Transport unwanted coal and oil
  • Maintain poverty wages

King continued by saying, “It is clear that the current legal structure allows corporations to treat our communities as property. We – the people – have become mere tenants of the corporations. It’s time we change that by changing our constitution to reflect that our right of local community self-government is above corporate control.”

Over the last two years in Oregon, county-level community rights efforts have been underway to confront an array of corporate projects from LNG pipelines to pesticides to GMOs to coal and oil trains. In each community, the aim has been to adopt a Community Bill of Rights law that secures the rights of the people and nature over that of unwanted corporate harms. Oregon communities join over 200 communities in nine states who have adopted community rights laws.

In Colorado, the Colorado Community Rights Network filed a very similar right of local community self-government constitutional amendment in August. The group had run a similar initiative effort in 2014, but because of legal challenges by the state and the oil and gas industry. they ran out of time to qualify. They too are aiming for the November 2016 ballot. More information found here:

To educate the people of Oregon about the state constitutional amendment and the community rights work underway in various parts of the state, the ORCRN is hosting Thomas Linzey from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund who is giving his talk, “Time for an Oregon Revolt: Communities Taking on Corporations and the State of Oregon” in multiple Oregon communities between October 1 to October 8. More information found here:

The Oregon Community Rights Network was formed in 2013 to support local and state community rights efforts with educational and communication resources, as well as educating the public about community rights and corporate control. The ORCRN joins Colorado, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington as part of the National Community Rights Network. In each state, communities are working to adopt Community Bill of Rights laws on the local level as well as working towards a similar state constitutional amendment to recognize the right of local community selfgovernment
as has now been launched in Oregon.


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National Community Rights Network Endorses New Hampshire Town’s Community Bill of Rights Ordinance

Contact: Cindy Kudlik, [email protected], 603-780-4511


August 31, 2015

NEW HAMPSHIRE: This month, the National Community Rights Network (NCRN) endorsed Barrington, New Hampshire’s Community Bill of Rights Ordinance. The rights- based ordinance secures the rights of residents to clean water, air, and scenic preservation, and bans resource extraction that would violate those rights. Residents drafted the ordinance with help from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). They are advancing it for Town Meeting vote in 2016.
In providing its support for the Community Bill of Rights Ordinance, the NCRN considered the efforts of the Barrington Waterways Protection Committee (BWPC) – the local group organizing to bring the ordinance to a vote. Since 2012, the committee has worked to protect the Isinglass River and surrounding waterways from gravel mining and water extraction.
Cilia Bannenberg, a BWPC committee member, stated, “We are very grateful and honored by the endorsement of the National Community Rights Network. We have worked tirelessly to educate Barrington voters that the only way to preserve individual and community rights is to enact this ordinance.”
The BWPC has dedicated itself to education, outreach, grassroots organizing, and campaigning, despite strong opposition from industry supporters. New Hampshire Community Rights Network President Michelle Sanborn stated, “Residents of Barrington understand this work is part of a longer-term effort to ban activities and projects that would violate the rights of natural persons and ecosystems to exist and flourish. They are determined to bring the people’s Community Bill of Rights forward again in 2016.”
“No community should become a resource colony for corporate profit,” said Cindy Kudlik, NCRN president. “We are proud to stand united with the BWPC to defend the inalienable constitutional rights of the citizens of Barrington and their natural environment.”
The NCRN is composed of representatives from seven statewide networks that have grown out of the grassroots organizing of CELDF, which has assisted communities to advance Community Rights at the local level for 20 years. Nearly 200 communities across the U.S. have adopted CELDF-drafted Community Bills of Rights, protecting community rights to clean air and water, sustainable food, energy, and other systems, and the right to local self-governance.
The NCRN assists the state Community Rights Networks to educate people across the country on community rights and local self-governance; helps to secure the inalienable rights of all people, communities, and ecosystems through local self-governance; asserts community rights to empower and liberate communities from state preemption and corporate harm; and advances those efforts toward state and federal constitutional change.


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November 4, 2014


Audrey Moore, Freedom from Pesticides Alliance

[email protected]   541-597-4384

JOSEPHINE COUNTY: Voters of Josephine County voted 68% to 32%  to reject Measure 17-63.

Measure 17-63, also known as the Freedom from Pesticides Bill of Rights, would have secured the rights of the people of Josephine County to clean air, water, and soil, and the rights of nature to exist and flourish – while prohibiting the use of synthetic pesticides by government and corporations that require an applicator license as a violation of those rights.

“Though it didn’t pass, nearly 9,000 people in Josephine County stood up for the first time to protect their rights against toxic pesticides”, says Audrey Moore of the Freedom from Pesticides Alliance – backers of Measure 17-63. “Having to contend with a disingenuous ballot title and a corporate funded campaign of lies proved to be to much to combat this go around.” (more…)