SB-093 threatens private property rights

March 21, 2014

Colorado, legislation

no eminent domainGuest post by Anita Sherman*

On Tuesday, (3/18) SB 14-093 – AKA the pipeline right-of-way bill – was pulled from the floor of the Colorado General Assembly by the 2014 sponsors for a Senate debate. If you’ve ever doubted the strength of individual voices, this week’s action on this bad bill is a reminder of what we must do to hold our elected representatives accountable to the people – not the party.

Alas, SB-093 is not gone by any means. Keep the pressure on your Senators to kill this bill since it is at its core unconstitutional. To everyone who called their representatives and voiced there concerns, thank you for engaging in your civic duties and protecting your human rights to clean air, clean water, and property protections.

It seems many of our representatives have lost their moral compasses based on expressed support for SB 14-093. No worries. We The People of Colorado are here to help them find the courage to kill SB 14-093, and maybe some of the lawmakers who voted “no” might be helpful in nudging nervous Nellies toward reason on this extremely unpopular bill.

In the LaPlata v COGCC case which challenged COGCC governmental authority, the Supreme Court had some strong feelings about a private industry interest “advisory committee” having statutory governing authority over local governments. COGCC falls into the category of the agency that will act as the regulatory and enforcement body when reviewing industry/toxic transport pipeline interests with eminent domain powers. The only thing that seems to be missing in these public policies is the public.

As a property owner in Archuleta County, as well as in Garfield, I’m very concerned about our state lawmakers supporting a bill that gives toxic trespassers eminent domain powers. Add industry hijacked county governments removing compliance language to comp plans – along with 1041 regulations in county land use codes legislatively – and we have a recipe for disaster with the public picking up the tab for toxic trespassers and litigation.

This scenario is not good for property values. It’s not good for attracting new economic drivers. And, it’s certainly not good for our human rights to clean air, clean water, and property protection from toxic trespassers for future generations

To keep things simple, I’ve put together a basic constitutional “human rights” litmus test for lawmakers to use when sponsoring and supporting legislation they believe should be public policy:

  1. Does the legislation promote and protect public health?
  2. Does the legislation serve and protect public safety?
  3. Does the legislation offer property protections on public and private land from toxic trespassers?
  4. Will the taxpayers receive 100% return of public monies with interest (108%) for private interest investments state funds with 0% impact to human rights?

If the answer is “no” to any of those questions, chances are the legislation doesn’t serve the public good.

The next question helps qualify the beneficiary of services, public funds, and statutes being created:

Does the entity receive a) a birth certificate (human); or b) an Employer Identification Number (private interest) when born.

If the answer is (b), it’s time to review the legislation to determine if a ballot initiative is more appropriate.

As a mother of two, I swear on the Bible under oath and God, I have never birthed an EIN application out of my crotch, despite some legislators writing laws to put a probe up there to look for jobs.

Abraham Lincoln said, “When human rights are in conflict with private rights, human rights should always prevail.”

The public is tired of our legislators confusing corporate good with public policy, and writing laws that compromise our human rights to clean air, clean water, and properties free from toxic trespassers and the impact they create for profit. We can create new economic drivers. We can’t create a new world for all.

I’d like to believe all of our legislators in the Colorado General Assembly are “smarter than the average bear” when compared to other states. Lawmakers can’t continue to “split the baby” between human rights vs private interests legislatively, and expect it to survive.

SB-093 is unconstitutional at its core, and any enforcement puts the burden of property protection on landowners and public trusts to defend their property rights. Amending an unconstitutional statute doesn’t make it less unconstitutional. Sort of like being a little bit pregnant. Either the legislation supported is or it isn’t constitutional. If it’s all the same to you folks, I’d like to have public policy that minimizes lawsuits – no offense to our good attorneys who make a living off of arguing statute.

Good legislators with the help of good executive enforcement shoot for laws that can be enforced equitably and fit the definition of “constitutional” – thereby minimizing lawsuits.

It’s not government’s job to protect private interests. It’s government’s job to protect public interest with policy that supports human rights. There’s a place for politicians who work for the industry.  It’s called K Street. This is our state, and this is our covenant with the state as taxpayers. We The People of Colorado are tired of being a national interest fossil fuel extraction sacrifice zone for global investors.

If Colorado lawmakers really care about their constituents, the state, and the future of our country moving into a Third Wave Economy, they will focus on human rights in public policy with the emphasis on clean air, clean water, and lands free of impact from toxic trespassers.

**********

Anita122013*Anita Sherman is a consultant for Blue Wing Strategies, LLC in Glenwood Springs, CO, and co-founder of the citizens advocacy group Garfield Transparency Initiative. She has two children, and a pledged supporter of the international collaborative The Mothers Project. Anita was recently named one of 100 national #FrackingFighters, a citizens direct action initiative by MoveOn.org, and a Co-Lead Plaintiff for a proposed citizens federal class action challenging the constitutionality of Governor Hickenlooper’s enforcement of Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission over a Home Rule municipality. Anita has been a strong community voice for equitable process and social justice with a focus on human rights to clean air, clean, water, and property protections from toxic trespassers in public policy.

Click here for ways to contact your legislators.

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