State Act

This proposed Act empowers communities to adopt local laws that protect the rights of people and the natural environment at the municipal and county level. It elevates the rights of people, communities, and nature above the “rights” currently claimed by corporations and their decision makers.  Community rights include environmental rights, such as the right to clean air, pure water, and healthy soil; worker rights, such as the right to living wages and equal pay for equal work; the rights of individuals experiencing homelessness to survive in their own communities; the rights of nature, such as the right of ecosystems to flourish and evolve; and democratic rights, such as the right of local community self-government.

Since 2013, citizens have asked state legislators to propose and the state legislature to adopt the Colorado Community Rights Act. No legislator has agreed to propose it. This legislation can be (1) an amendment to the Colorado Revised Statutes, which can be passed by the legislature, or (2) an amendment to the Colorado Constitution, which the legislature could put on the ballot. Twice, in 2014 and 2016,  we attempted to put an initiative on the ballot, the Colorado Community Rights Amendment, to amend the Colorado constitution.

The time is now; we and the environment can’t wait any longer.

Proposed Language for a Colorado Community Rights Act:

 

An act relating to the fundamental rights of individuals and communities, and the related authority of municipalities, to protect the health, safety, and welfare of people, their communities, and the natural environment.

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Colorado:

Sec. 1. FINDINGS

Concerning the function of municipalities to protect the health, safety, and welfare of people, their communities, and the natural environment, the General Assembly finds:

A. The U.S. Declaration of Independence recognizes that governments are instituted to secure the rights of people and derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.
B. The Constitution of the State of Colorado recognizes, “All political power is vested in and derived from the people; all government, of right, originates from the people, is founded upon their will only.”
C. These doctrines on the inherent source and scope of political power necessarily mean that the people of municipalities have an inherent and inalienable right to local self-government.
D. The protection of the health, safety, and welfare of people, their communities, and the natural environment constitutes the highest and best use of the right to local self-government.
E. Any interference with a municipality’s authority to protect such health, safety, and welfare is an interference with the right to local self-government.
F. Municipalities have experienced such interference from business corporations that wield certain rights and powers to override community decision making.
G. Business corporations have used such rights and powers to impede in legislative bodies, and to overturn in judicial bodies, democratic laws at the municipal, state, and federal levels, including laws enacted to protect health, safety, and welfare.
H. Laws that create, and judicial decisions that approve, such rights and powers of business corporations violate the people’s inherent and inalienable right to local self-government, thus rendering democratically elected governments ineffective at protecting the health, safety, and welfare of people, their communities, and the natural environment.

Sec. 2. DEFINITIONS

As used in this act, these words are defined as follows:

(A) “business corporation” means any corporation, professional corporation, limited partnership, limited liability partnership, business trust, or limited liability company operated for profit, and any other business entity operated for profit that possesses government-conferred limited liability for its owners, directors, officers, and/or managers.
(B) “community” means a contiguous geographic area in which people associate to take action for the health, safety, and welfare of the area’s people, society, and natural environment. It also shall include, but not be limited to, neighborhoods, districts, and other subdivisions of such a
geographic area. It also shall include, but not be limited to, the components of society in such a geographic area and in its neighborhoods, districts, and other subdivisions.
(C) “fundamental right” means a right of individuals or communities contained in the U.S. Constitution, the Constitution of the State of Colorado, a municipality’s charter or other fundamental law, or in a law adopted pursuant to this act.
(D) “individual” means a human person.
(E) “municipality” means a county, city, or town, except in section 4, where is means a city or town.
(F) “natural environment” means the components and systems of nature in a municipality or in a community thereof.
(G) “people” means human persons.
Sec. 3. To Colorado Revised Statutes, title 30, article 11, part 1, section 30-11-101, subsection (3) is added to read:
Each county shall have power to enact laws to establish, expand, and enhance the fundamental rights of individuals and communities to protect the health, safety, and welfare of people, their communities, and the natural environment. Counties may do so by means of civil ordinances adopted by the board of county commissioners, by means of the process of charter adoption and amendment, and by means of the process of initiative lawmaking. Such laws may include, but shall not be limited to, establishing, defining, altering, or eliminating the rights, powers, and duties of business corporations operating, or seeking to operate, within the county, to prevent such rights and powers from usurping or otherwise conflicting with the fundamental rights of individuals and communities. Such laws are not subject to limitation by any provisions in Title 7 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. Such laws may provide for individual and community rights that are more expansive than those provided by state or federal law, and may provide for prohibitions necessary to secure those individual and community rights. Nothing in this section authorizes or empowers a county to enact a law that restricts the fundamental rights of individuals or communities secured by the Constitution of the State of Colorado or the U.S. Constitution, or that is less stringent than protections for individuals, communities, or the natural environment provided by state or federal law.
Sec. 4. To Colorado Revised Statutes, title 31, article 15, part 4, section 31-15-401, subsection (1)(r) is added to read:
Each municipality shall have power to enact laws to establish, expand, and enhance the fundamental rights of individuals and communities to protect the health, safety, and welfare of people, their communities, and the natural environment. Municipalities may do so by means of civil ordinances adopted by the governing body, by means of the process of charter adoption and amendment, and by means of the process of initiative lawmaking. Such laws may include, but shall not be limited to, establishing, defining, altering, or eliminating the rights, powers, and
duties of business corporations operating, or seeking to operate, within the municipality, to prevent such rights and powers from usurping or otherwise conflicting with the fundamental rights of individuals and communities. Such laws are not subject to limitation by any provisions in Title 7 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. Such laws may provide for individual and community rights that are more expansive than those provided by state or federal law, and may provide for prohibitions necessary to secure those individual and community rights. Nothing in this section authorizes or empowers a municipality to enact a law that restricts the fundamental rights of individuals or communities secured by the Constitution of the State of Colorado or the U.S. Constitution, or that is less stringent than protections for individuals, communities, or the natural environment provided by state or federal law.

Sec. 5. EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect on ________________.