Why Home Rule?
Thomas Jefferson laid out his indictment of King George III in the US Declaration of Independence. He famously begins with what purpose government serves:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."
Home Rule is an extension of Jefferson's rationale for throwing off the yoke of tyranical government. Home Rule is self determination at the local level. 30 of 50 US states are Home Rule states. I can address how Home Rule works in Colorado, which may of may not apply to other states.
In Colorado there are two forms of government, Statutory and Home Rule. Statutory governments derive their rules from the state. The state defines what statutory governments can and cannot do. Home Rule governments write their own charter, similar to a state or national Constitution, that defines how the Home Rule government is organized and its regulations. Home Rule gives local governments more control over their own destiny and pushes power down from the state to the local government.
96 cities, every major city in Colorado, are Home Rule cities. There are two combined city/county governments, Denver and Broomfield, both Home Rule. There are two Home Rule counties, Pitkin and Weld. The other 60 of 64 counties are statutory.
Most of Colorado's statutory counties do not have pluralism; they are one party counties with predetermined elections. A 2018 study by Thomas Cronin and Robert Loevy of Colorado College, that strangely omitted 2 counties, found that "36 counties are dominated by the Republican Party, 15 counties dominated by the Democratic Party, and 11 counties are capable of swinging back and forth between the two parties." Without pluralism, we do not live in a real democracy.
There are two major advantages that Home Rule brings to county government. Home Rule allows citizens Direct Democracy, the ability to put ballot initiatives on the ballot. Writing a charter for the Home Rule county would also allow the people to decide how we are to be governed. For instance, in Colorado we could change the size of the legislative body from 3 - 5 people to a larger more diverse body, and how it is selected. We could design a government with Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) representation, a real democracy, not the fake one-party democracy we have in 82% of Colorado counties now.
"This shift to local control (Colorado SB 19-181) abrogated the Colorado Supreme Court precedent that, in the event of a conflict between state and local laws on oil and gas, the state law prevails and the local law subsides. Now, the state statute itself makes state laws the floor, not the ceiling, for local regulation. The General Assembly has effectively reinstituted a sort of legislative home rule over the subject, bucking the national trend of state legislatures favoring intrastate preemption on oil and gas regulation issues and reversing a decades-long process of eroding local control." Springtime for Home Rule over Oil and Gas - Daniel E. Kramer
Ask your Commissioners for a little democracy
Home Rule would allow citizens to gather signatures to put initiatives on the county ballot, just like 99 Colorado cities and 4 Colorado counties do now. Statutory systems concentrate power and decision making in few hands. Home Rule disperses power and is much more inclusive. Home Rule gives control back to local residents, a scary concept for elitist politicians. Please contact your representatives, ask them to put Home Rule on the ballot.
Home Rule Enables Democracy to Flourish
- Jesse Kumin
Columbines, Arapahoe Pass Trail © 2015 Jesse Kumin, All Rights Reserved