Colorado’s Amendment 74, A Frightening Assault on Taxpayers

Colorado has a ballot question this year, Amendment 74, that if passed, would represent an unprecedented fleecing of Colorado taxpayers. It would amend the Colorado constitution to allow any corporation to sue local governments over any law they contend might cost them money. This amendment would hold towns and neighborhoods hostage to the specter of costly lawsuits, creating a strong disincentive for passing laws to protect the public. For example, a town that prohibits oil and gas drilling too close to schools could be successfully sued for damages to companies wanting to drill there. The list of absurd possibilities are endless.

After Oregon passed a similar measure, the state faced nearly $20 billion in claims in just the first three years. Thankfully it was repealed before it bankrupted local communities and undercut the state’s ability to fund schools and infrastructure.

The consequences of  passing Amendment 74 are vast. In addition to allowing corporations to siphon away Coloradans’ tax dollars, it would undermine the environmental protections, health standards and zoning laws needed to protect the public. In short, it makes everyone and second class citizen by giving more power to moneyed special interests. This is not conservative. Nothing good can come from Amendment 74.

This is why CRS hopes this reckless amendment is defeated at the ballot box on November 6.

Below is a short piece by two Colorado conservatives explaining why Amendment 74 runs afoul of basic conservative principles, even as flyers promoting try to tie the effort to great conservatives like Ronald Reagan. Reagan was a steward of taxpayer’s wallets, he would no doubt see this scheme for what it is and urge voters to “just say no.”

Do Not be Swayed by Industry Ploys

A recent flyer promoting Amendment 74 features former President Ronald Reagan riding his white horse across his pasture with a prominent American flag, seemingly supporting their campaign. However, there’s something wrong with this picture, as we deeply respected this man for the way the Constitution provided the foundation of his presidency.

Reagan consistently sought to reintroduce constitutional principles and certainly was not one to desire changing the Constitution – not even under his own speculation that the First Amendment was too easily abused by extremist groups. With this flyer, the Committee for Colorado’s Shared Heritage, funded by Protect Colorado, has gone too far. Mocking up an ad to mislead voters by implying that the former President, laid to rest in June of 2004, would be in full support of a 2018 Constitutional Amendment is both disrespectful and disingenuous.

The flyer prominently quotes Reagan in asking, “What does it mean whether you hold the deed or the title to your business or property if the government holds the power of life and death over that business or property.” Exactly! Which is why our laws already require just compensation when private property is taken for government use. Unfortunately, an antiquated Colorado law allows private corporations to “force pool” our communities and develop our minerals despite the consequences to our community’s health and safety. We desire to keep our minerals in their present location until technology advances to the point that they can be extracted safely. However, industry would probably prefer that the government (i.e., the taxpayer) be required to pay fair market value for their minerals, even if they cannot be accessed safely. The taxpayers will undoubtedly pay, but who sets the price?

It is interesting that this ad also quotes Reagan stating, “Government’s first duty is to protect the people…”, thereby actually putting Amendment 74 in direct conflict with the existing Constitution which requires protection of public health. Perhaps the real reason for Amendment 74 is to ensure payout for mineral owners whose shale deposits have recently become accessible through technological advances, but which have also resulted in public health risks to already established communities. This flyer is just another ploy by the industry to protect their profits while government laws and regulations are updated to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the people. Do not be mislead. This Amendment is not for the hard working Citizens of Colorado.

Amendment 74 will cost our taxpayers billions to pay off corporate interests, and will be complex to undo. This is exactly what Raise the Bar last year was purported to protect us from. Please join a Republican and a Mineral Owner in voting NO on 74.

Laurie Anderson – Broomfield

Bill Young – Broomfield

 

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