Opinion

Coloradans can find common ground in defense of property rights

Author: Shawn Martini - June 8, 2018 - Updated: June 8, 2018

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Shawn Martini

Colorado is a great state, a state that comes together to solve problems. There is a lot of mudslinging in politics right now, but there’s a potential statewide ballot measure that provides a breath of fresh air. The proposed initiative finds common ground across all party affiliations and unites both rural and urban Colorado communities to safeguard private property from government overreach.

To ensure homeowners, businesses, farmers and ranchers are protected, the Colorado Farm Bureau and other agricultural interests are proactively sponsoring a measure that defends private property owners from state or local governments taking their property without compensation.

Colorado has a strong tradition of advocating for private property rights. And denying family farmers, homeowners and other property owners the right to decide how to use their own land and to take all or part of their property without compensation runs contrary to Colorado values.  This initiative will ensure that strong private property rights remain a cornerstone of the Colorado way of life.

Our measure will level the playing field and provide property owners with a clear path to make their case to a judge when they believe the value of their property may have been taken, no matter the outcome.

While citizens already have protections against the “taking” of their physical property by the government, the state Constitution is less clear when it comes to the government “taking” the value of private property.

Taking property’s value comes in many forms and impacts citizens from rural, suburban and urban communities.  Property includes the crops farmers grow, water rights a family owns, the view from a back porch, or the tranquility of a quiet neighborhood. This measure will protect homeowners, farmers, ranchers, small businesses, landowners and all Coloradans. It promotes good government and an equal process for impacted individuals.

Our measure will level the playing field and provide property owners with a clear path to make their case to a judge when they believe the value of their property may have been taken, no matter the outcome.

Some municipalities are lining up to oppose this measure. They oppose it because they want to maintain the status quo. They want free rein to pass laws that may damage private property values without having to pay for that damage. This measure will hold them accountable and protect those people hurt by heavy-handed regulations. From disadvantaged communities in the inner city, to farmers and ranchers in rural Colorado, to suburban homeowners along the Front Range, everyone will have the same protections against government seizures of their property value.

Ultimately, this modest change to the Constitution will better clarify current private property rights, improve government, and provide individual citizens with stronger protections. The measure is simple but very clear. Unlike other proposals, it doesn’t introduce new concepts or complex rules into our constitution. It simply clarifies principles already established in our Constitution which ensure every Coloradan has the right to be free from government taking their property without compensation.

We think that’s something all Coloradans can agree on.

Shawn Martini

Shawn Martini

Shawn Martini is vice president of advocacy for the Colorado Farm Bureau, the state's largest agriculture organization.