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Inside Initiative 75: Right to local self-government -- and to say no to fracking

August 4 is the deadline by which citizens-initiatives committees must turn in at least 86,105 valid signatures in order to get measures on the November ballot. There are at least a dozen proposals still in the works, and one of the hottest is Initiative 75, which would add local self-governing as an "inalienable right" to the Colorado Constitution.

What's it all about? Fracking, for one thing.

See also: Fracking linked to birth defects? Colorado study fuels debate

Here's the wording of the proposed measure:

Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning a right to local self-government, and, in connection therewith, declaring that the people have an inherent right to local self-government in counties and municipalities, including the power to enact laws to establish and protect fundamental rights of individuals, communities, and nature and the power to define or eliminate the rights and powers of corporations or business entities to prevent them from interfering with those fundamental rights; and declaring that such local laws are not subject to preemption by any federal, state, or international laws?

If Initiative 75 makes the ballot and then passes, a section would be added to the state constitution that establishes the inalienable right to local self-government. That right would include the power for communities to enact local laws protecting health, safety and welfare, as well as the power to enact local laws establishing, defining, altering or eliminating the rights, powers and duties of corporations and other business entities already operating, or looking to operate, in the community.

Under this initiative, laws adopted by local self-governing bodies would not be subject to preemption by international, federal or state laws. Likewise, they wouldn't be governed by Article XX, section 6 of the Colorado Constitution -- home rule for cities and towns -- as long as they did not restrict or weaken fundamental rights of individuals, their communities or nature secured by state, federal or international law.

Cliff Willmeng is a proponent for the initiative and a board member of the Colorado Community Rights Network, a group that banded together late last year to help create 75. "It's historically unique," Willmeng says of the proposal.

At its core, Willmeng says Initiative 75 is about communities saying no to projects that could violate their fundamental rights to health and safety. The initiative "clarifies that the people are the origin of all power," he explains. "Government is a way by which individuals in communities enforce what they define as their fundamental rights."

The Colorado Community Rights Network and the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund worked together to get the initiative's wording and title through the Colorado Supreme Court. It finally came out of the court on May 23, narrowing the time they have to collect signatures -- but proponents report that they're well on their way to collecting the required amount.

And even if Governor John Hickenlooper is able to come up with a compromise that would pull several of the proposed anti-fracking initiatives from the mix, the supporters of Initiative 75 are pushing to see their proposal on the November 4 ballot.

You can find more information about ballot proposals and voting requirements on the Colorado Colorado Secretary of State website.

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