Marianne Goodland of the Colorado Springs Gazette reports:
Proponents of a ballot measure they claim will strengthen private property rights turned in a record 209,000 petition signatures Friday to the secretary of state.
Initiative 108 is a constitutional proposal for the November ballot that its chief sponsor, Colorado Farm Bureau, says will allow private property owners to take state or local governments to court when their property is devalued. The ballot measure doesn’t identify the kind of private property that could be taken, but examples include mineral, oil and gas, or water rights…
Initiative 108 becomes the second constitutional ballot measure under more stringent signature requirements approved by voters in 2016 under Amendment 71, aka “Raise the Bar,” which CFB supported.
The effects of this initiative would be potentially devastating to local governments responsible for just about any kind of land-use policy. Although proponents cite anecdotal examples of various controversial takings that property rights holders could sue over, the overwhelming beneficiaries of this initiative would be oil and gas rights holders in areas where people live and work. It would turn Colorado’s “split estate” system of separate surface and mineral rights into a cash cow for mineral rights holders at the direct expense of everyone else. Acting to protect residents from drilling in residential areas could mean bankruptcy for your town.
Don’t let the “record number of signatures” fool you into thinking this ballot measure enjoys authentic popular support. Goodland reported last week that five different pay-per-signature petition gathering firms were working on this ballot initiative. It’s true that since the passage of Amendment 71 in 2016, constitutional ballot measures have become harder to qualify for the ballot–but not impossible, and the scale of this effort demonstrates that constitutional measures are still very much within reach of those who have the means. Like the oil and gas industry, who not coincidentally has the ways and means to commit dirty tricks against initiatives they don’t like.
For most citizens of Colorado, “Raise the Bar” simply raised the bar above their heads.
Here is the result.