Today, Colorado communities are legally subordinate to a structure of law that elevates the “rights” of corporations over the rights of actual people. Corporations and the lobbying groups representing them use state force to coerce local communities into accepting projects residents don’t want—fracking, injection wells, factory farms, cyanide heap leach mines, toxic waste, genetically-modified foods, etc. Under this corporatized legal system, elected officials have to ignore the desires, needs, and rights of their own citizens and defer to corporate interests. And residents must accept that a corporate few have greater rights than community majorities, that property rights trump people’s rights, that they can’t protect their health, safety and welfare from unwanted industrial activities, that it’s OK for corporations backed by state power to make decisions for their communities.
In November 2016, Coloradans can vote for local democracy. With enough signatures from registered Colorado voters, the Colorado Community Rights Amendment will be on the ballot. This amendment to the Colorado Constitution doesn’t ban anything. Instead it secures the right of local community self-government. It gives communities that choose to do so the power to pass local laws protecting residents’ health, safety, and welfare by empowering affected communities to DECIDE FOR THEMSELVES whether to allow corporate projects that violate those rights.
The amendment shelters communities from state and corporate lawsuits designed to force unwanted, inherently dangerous industrial projects next to homes, schools and neighborhoods. Beyond environmental applications, the Community Rights Amendment will empower communities to increase workplace democracy and to support a local living wage.
Colorado is not alone in this fight to secure the right of local self-government. Communities across the nation, experiencing similar limitations on their ability to protect residents’ health, safety and welfare, are enacting their own local laws advancing community self-determination. In 2016, Colorado will be joined by Oregonians for Community Rights as they campaign for a parallel ballot initiative to amend Oregon’s state constitution. Together, we will advance the national movement for community rights and begin a process to bring greater power and freedom to our people, workforces, and environment.
The Colorado Community Rights Network is a nonprofit, nonpartisan grassroots organization established in 2013 to advance local democracy, economic justice, and environmental sustainability. We believe that people and communities have the right to safeguard their own health, safety and welfare and protect their natural environments—free of corporate interference and state preemption. Coloradans for Community Rights (CCR) is the legally separate issue committee for the 2016 community rights ballot initiative. Volunteer for this grassroots effort to place the Community Rights Amendment on the 2016 statewide ballot.