The Colorado Community Rights Network
Our purpose is to protect communities by assisting them in creating local laws that outline and assert peoples’ rights as that community defines them. In doing so, we seek to drive fundamental legal change upward, through the state and federal constitutions, so that corporate power can be curtailed or eliminated and new laws enacted reflecting, honoring, and promoting full democracy, sustainability, and community rights.
The Colorado Community Rights Network was established in late 2013 to advance local and statewide democracy, and environmental and economic justice and sustainability. We support the view that our current legal structure, through state preemption and a variety of privileges given to corporations, has removed from people and communities their ability to protect their fundamental and inalienable rights.
Local and the State: A two-part strategy
Locally: The Colorado Community Rights Network is currently working at both the local and state levels. By helping create local groups supporting local Community Bills of Rights, we help communities protect themselves from unwanted and oftentimes dangerous corporate projects. The first local Bill of Rights was established in Lafayette, Colorado, in November 2013. In that election, the people of Lafayette enacted the Lafayette Community Rights Act to Ban Hydraulic Fracturing. This city charter amendment banned oil and gas development and the disposal of associated industrial wastes within the city limits, and it created a full and protective Community Bill of Rights enforcing residents’ rights to clean air, clean water, freedom from chemical trespass, and local self-determination. The measure passed by over 60% of the popular vote.
Statewide: On a state level, we are advancing constitutional change through the campaign for the 2016 ballot initiative, the Colorado Community Rights Amendment to the Colorado Constitution. This historic effort, now working its way into the petitioning stage, asserts that people’s rights are fundamental and superior to court-conferred corporate “rights.” If enacted, it will enable local governments to define fundamental rights and prohibit activities that violate those rights. It would give local communities “the power to enact local laws establishing, defining, altering, or eliminating the rights, powers, and duties of corporations and other business entities operating or seeking to operate in the community.” It would bar the State of Colorado from forcing unwanted corporate projects onto unwilling communities. This binding amendment will begin the fundamental legal changes we see as necessary to build genuine democratic community rights and ensure Colorado’s sustainability.