Eminent domain ballot push fails
June 16, 2006
DENVER – Organizers who wanted Colorado voters to decide whether to bar the government from taking over private property for economic development projects said Friday they have failed to gather enough signatures to put the question on the November ballot.They gathered 30,452 signatures, about 38,000 short of the minimum amount needed to win a spot on the ballot, said Marsha Looper, executive director of Colorado Citizens for Property Rights.Looper said it was a good showing considering that the group relied only on volunteers and didn’t have funding to hire paid signature gatherers.Looper’s group wanted to add an amendment to the state constitution aimed at barring government from using the power of eminent domain to take homes, farms and businesses and convert them into shopping centers to boost sales tax revenues.Gov. Bill Owens recently signed a similar ban on eminent domain powers. Looper and others worry that home-rule cities, which are governed under voter-approved charters, can argue the law doesn’t apply to them. Lawmakers also killed a proposal to send a constitutional change to the ballot.”It’s just a watered-down bill. It’s the beginning of some reform but at the end of the day it doesn’t have the teeth that the referred measure did,” said Looper, who also opposed the proposed “Super Slab” private toll road for the eastern plains and is running to replace state Rep. Richard Decker, R-Fountain.Looper said the fact that citizens were collecting signatures for the petition helped put pressure on lawmakers to pass the statute change along with three bills that set up regulations for private toll roads. She said the group would reorganize, raise money and try again to get the issue on the ballot in 2008.