For years, Coloradans have faced harmful corporate practices, including gas and oil drilling and fracking, gold mining, the use of GM seed, water mining and the privatization of public services for private profit. The theft of local resources and the violation of community rights by corporations are rampant.
Worse, the state, rather than helping Colorado communities to stop these harms, instead advocates for them and preempts local governments from legislating to protect the rights of community members. In fact, it is even joining corporate lawsuits against those communities who dare to defy corporate interests and corral their government bestowed privileges. The state legislature, backed up by the courts, has forbidden communities from making local policies regarding fair wages, absentee landlordism, regulation of weapons, workers’ rights, health care, and a host of issues impacting social justice. Today, we see an all-out coordinated assault by corporations and the state against the authority of the people to use their local governments to protect their rights and decide what happens in the places where they live.
No longer willing to submit to state and corporate pressure, Colorado communities have joined the growing community rights movement to assert their inalienable right of local, community self-governance, the right to sustainable energy and food systems, and the rights of nature. They are committing themselves to the cause of driving those rights into local and state law by challenging the existing injustice and demanding fundamental, systemic change.
The first-in-the-state Community Bill of Rights ordinance banning fracking was adopted in November 2013 in Lafayette by 58% of the voters. Not surprisingly, the state teamed up with wealthy corporate interests to overturn the majority will of the people and foist corporate projects on the community, against the consent of the governed.
While other communities are working to enact Community Bills of Rights to protect their rights against corporate-state collusion and harm, the Colorado Community Rights Network (COCRN), launched in 2014, hit the ground running with a state-wide initiative to place a CELDF-drafted Community Rights Constitutional Amendment on the ballot for November 2016. This amendment, if adopted by the people, will establish the right of municipal governments and the citizens of home rule communities to enact local laws that protect community rights, free from state preemption and corporate interference.
For more information on the Colorado Community Rights Network, email CoCommRights@gmail.com.