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
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ben Price, National Organizing Director
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.
For additional information regarding the Colorado Community Rights Amendment, visit www.coloradansforcommunityrights.org. To learn about the Community Rights Movement, visit www.celdf.org. 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.