Colorado Community Rights Network Files Constitutional Amendment

Colorado Community Rights Network Files Constitutional Amendment Press Release by The Colorado Community Rights Network, January 20, 2014
The Colorado Community Rights Network (COCRN) has submitted to the state for review and comment the language for a Community Rights Constitutional Amendment to be placed on the 2014 ballot. The significance of the proposed state constitutional amendment was explained by COCRN member, Cliff  Willmeng:

“Communities throughout Colorado and across the country are finding that, in the face of corporate exploitation, they don’t have full authority, due to state preemption, to protect public health, safety and welfare, economic and environmental sustainability, property value, and overall quality of life. To do so without repeated challenges from corporate lawyers and our own state requires changes to our structure of law. The Community Rights Amendment would codify into law the right to local self-government, enabling local governments to define fundamental rights and prohibit activities that violate those rights.”

Lotus, another member of COCRN, commented, “When the thirteen colonies revolted to gain independence from England, the very first grievance listed in the Declaration of Independence was the refusal of the central government to recognize local laws enacted as an exercise of the people’s right to local self-government. The Declaration states that the king “has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good…” and that the “people are endowed with certain unalienable rights, “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” among them. It goes on to state that government derives its power from the consent of the governed and that when any government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.  The immortal words of the Declaration of Independence are regarded as a moral standard upon which our freedom was founded and to which we continue to strive. But today, those ideals are trampled by the state to benefit corporate privilege at the expense of general rights.”

Today, our structure of law elevates corporate rights over the unalienable rights of citizens and usurps the consent of the governed. Corporations have court-conferred constitutional rights which they wield against communities to subjugate local desires that interfere with corporate expansion. Furthermore, corporate rights are defended by the state and federal government through the doctrine of preemption. Corporations, hand in hand with state and federal government, override the health, safety and welfare of people, their communities and the natural environment.

Citizen groups have introduced and passed Community Bill of Rights ordinances, a local version of the Community Rights Amendment, in communities throughout the nation. However, due to state preemption and supposed constitutional “rights” of corporate property, they are being sued by the corporate interests that threaten their communities. The state Constitutional Amendment will give municipalities full authority to pass such laws, free from preemptive laws protecting corporations from democracy.

Colorado’s first Community Bill of Rights ordinance was passed in the City of Lafayette, as citizens in that community fight to protect their health and community from oil and gas extraction. Lafayette is being sued by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, a trade group representing the industry, to overturn the election, as are several other Colorado municipalities that have passed bans and moratoria against the industry. Merrily Mazza, recently elected to the Lafayette City Council and an organizer of the campaign to pass the Community Bill of Rights ordinance said, “the proposed Colorado constitutional amendment starts a new state-wide movement to establish the right to local self-government. It gives people, not corporations, the authority to decide how best to protect their health, safety and welfare, their communities, and the natural environment.  This is democracy in action.” [Emphasis added]

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