Amendment 74: Fatally Flawed

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

A special interest.

A special interest.

Amendment 74 is one of the most dangerous ballot measures we have seen in Colorado for a long time.  It has largely flown under the radar despite its far-reaching implications, at least compared to the attention paid to several other ballot measures this year.  That is a big mistake.

Amendment 74 would fundamentally change the nature of land use policy and the duties of our local governments.  By inserting eleven words into Article II, Section 15 of the Colorado Constitution – “or reduced in fair market value by government law or regulation” – the Amendment would radically upend a century of established property takings law.

Amendment 74 is purportedly sponsored by the Colorado Farm Bureau, which claims current takings laws aren’t fair to property owners.  But not one farmer or rancher, the supposed constituency of the Colorado Farm Bureau, has contributed to the campaign supporting Amendment 74.  Rather, oil and gas companies have made up 99.9% of the $7 million contributed so far.  If passed, it would mean a handful of large corporations managed to buy a piece of our state Constitution.

And, what a purchase it would be.  The oil and gas companies’ campaign contributions would pale in comparison to the litigation and judgments unleashed by the passage of Amendment 74.  Any and every land use decision would be subject to a lawsuit.  Any land owner unhappy with a zoning decision could sue.  Either local governments will stop land use planning altogether (imagine chemical plants in the middle of neighborhoods or gun shops next to schools), or taxpayers will be on the hook for billions of dollars in judgments.

Oregon voters passed a similar version of Amendment 74 by statewide initiative in 2006.  As a result, 7,000 claims totaling $19.5 billion were filed against the state and local governments.  The voters realized their mistake and repealed it just three years later.  If Colorado suffers the same fate, it would be even tougher to call a similar mulligan here.  That’s because the oil and gas industry-funded “Raise the Bar” Amendment 71 two years ago made signature gathering for constitutional amendments (or repeals of those amendments) prohibitively expensive for anyone other than the wealthiest groups or corporations.

When opposition to a ballot measure runs from John Suthers to John Hickenlooper, from Club 20 and the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce to the Sierra Club, and from the Grand Junction Sentinel to the Boulder Daily Camera, you know it is fatally flawed.

I’ve dealt with my fair share of half-truths and hidden agendas during my six years at the state legislature, but Amendment 74 takes the cake in both of those categories.  It is a dangerous overreach that would gut environmental protections and eliminate rational land use planning.  Don’t let this amendment sneak into our Constitution.  Spread the word against Amendment 74 like your neighborhood depends on it.

20 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    74 is a reaction to 112 and the setback issue. I will be voting against both.

  2. Davie says:

    74 and 109 are both poison pill measures to get folks annoyed enough to vote no on everything.

    • MichaelBowman says:

      Don’t throw ‘X’ under this bus! 

      “YES ON X”

      • Genghis says:

        Or "A." It's way past time to do away with the "prison labor" exception to the state constitution's ban on slavery and involuntary servitude.

        • Voyageur says:

          I'm a no vote on A.  Calling a prison sentence slavery is political co rrectness run amok..

          • Genghis says:

            Wow. Look at all that straw. I ain't cleanin' that up. laugh

          • MichaelBowman says:

            This is a complicated issue for me.  There are lots of abuses in the system; many of us here are acquainted with someone who used to check in here whose brother picked cotton for the Texas Correctional system for an extended period of time.  His assault on our society? Possession of a small amount of marijuana.  Given we've managed to load our system with men of color, in large part due to our incredibly successful disastrous War on Drugs, it's hard not to call it what it looks like: slavery.  Should we reduce recidivism in the system.  Absolutely.  Does it need to look like the programs in Texas?  No.  Is there a sane space, someplace between programs like those in the Texas cotton fields and the Whole Foods hysteria?  Yes. 

            I'll be a Yes on A.  We need to start/have this discussion. 

            • Voyageur says:

              I have no doubt that Texas,

              Like Louisiana, has abused its prison system.

              But I have a great deal of doubt that amending Colorado's constitution will clean up things in Texas.

              A's backers haven't identified a single case of a wrong in this state that removing a 141 year-old clause of our constitution will right.

              Not one single case.

              Not one.

              Vote "no" on A, political correctness run amok.

      • Voyageur says:

        Yes on X.  It's better than sex!

        Seriously, this is a sensible bipartisan measure to make our definition of industrial hemp conform to state and federal law.  Colorado is the number one industrial hemp state and this gives us the legal flexibility to conform with changing statutes that are, at long last, freeing us to produce the same crop George Washington and Henry Clay did.

  3. Pseudonymous says:

    Apparently, even The Gazette can be brought, kicking and screaming, to engage with reality.

    EDITORIAL: We were wrong on Colorado Amendment 74

  4. kickshot says:

    "So what did you just say?"

  5. Duke Cox says:

    Amendment 74 is a threat by the oil and gas industry against every municipal and county government (among other parties) in the state who might deign to restrict drilling and fracking near their citizens. Mineral rights value.made inaccessable by 112 will be chased as a "taking".

    As I understand it, 74 would give them constitutional standing to sue and be awarded damages.

    • gertie97 says:

      You are correct, Duke.

      • Duke Cox says:

        I caught a video clip on the news this morning featuring a meeting with Stumbleton that apparently happened here in GJ yesterday. The usual suspects were there…including the Mesa County shadow government, Diane Schwenke and David Ludlam. Rose the Pugnacious was also in attendance. Couldn't see who else, but it isn't hard to guess. 

        The GOP candidate was probably here to shore up his financial support from O&G.

        I think they owe him a check for the lie package he delivered at the debate at Colorado Methane University a couple of days ago. They used to pay those guys by the hour, but I think it is at a piece rate in the new economy.

        Anyway…any of your inside sources have any scuttlebutt on that meeting?


        • gertie97 says:

          Not a word. But, then, I've never been tight with the aforementioned suspects.

          I also know our local stations frequently use old B roll, so there's no guarantee the video clip was current.

          Ludlam is the chief flack for CMU now, and I can't figure why Foster would want him at such a meeting.


  6. JohnInDenver says:

    Gosh … head shops and bars next to schools, or pay the penalty.

    I'm betting that at least one of my neighbors would think it would be great to propose a high rise building on their property, a use currently blocked by zoning. I don't get any sense that the amendment would be limited to any NEW changes — and it is clear that a single house is LOTS less valuable than a high rise on the 1.25 acre lot.

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