Colorado’s Constitution Requires Voters to Approve Nuclear Explosions

It’s probably safe to say that you wouldn’t want a nuclear explosion in your backyard. All things being equal, you likely would prefer that your neighborhood remain free of nuclear fallout. Would it be too much of an exaggeration to suggest that you’d like to keep nuclear detonations in your state to a bare minimum?

If these assumptions are true for you, you can bet they are shared by the vast majority of your fellow citizens. If it was left up to the masses, few of us would ever give our consent to the creation of a mushroom cloud anywhere close to where we live.

If you live in the state of Colorado, you are in luck. The state has adopted a fool-proof nuclear deterrent. Just to show how serious they are about the deterrent, Coloradans have codified it in the highest law of the state.

Article XXVI of the Colorado Constitution provides as follows:

Section 1. Nuclear detonations prohibited – exceptions. No nuclear explosive device may be detonated or placed in the ground for the purpose of detonation in this state except in accordance with this article.

This section does not flat-out prohibit nuclear explosions in Colorado, but it makes it quite clear that none may occur without proper authorization. What kind of authorization is needed? Well, if we’re talking about an underground detonation, the voters are going to have to give their permission:

Section 2. Election required. Before the emplacement of any nuclear explosive device in the ground in this state, the detonation of that device shall first have been approved by the voters through enactment of an initiated or referred measure authorizing that detonation, such measure having been ordered, proposed, submitted to the voters, and approved as provided in section 1 of article V of this constitution.

This is all well and good, but what about the above-ground explosions? Those are the ones most of us worry about — particularly when they are the result of the bad nastiness of the nefarious villains who are bent on democracy’s demise. When missiles are racing toward their targets, there may not be time to call for an election and check to see if the voters will give their approval for World War III.

Recognizing the need for more expedient action, Section 3 addresses nuclear explosions that take place above the ground:

Section 3. Certification of indemnification required. Before the detonation or emplacement for the purpose of detonation of any nuclear explosive device, a competent state official or agency designated by the governor shall first have certified that sufficient and secure financial resources exist in the form of applicable insurance, self-insurance, indemnity bonds, indemnification agreements, or otherwise, without utilizing state funds, to compensate in full all parties that might foreseeably suffer damage to person or property from ground motion, ionizing radiation, other pollution, or other hazard attributable to such detonation. Damage is attributable to such detonation without regard to negligence and without regard to any concurrent or intervening cause.

Please note that this section does not technically prevent America’s enemies from attacking Colorado, nor does it stop anyone from destroying Colorado. It does, however, require that they first provide proof of adequate insurance and means of compensation to everyone who is harmed by their attack. This proof must be presented to the official who is appointed by the governor for that purpose. He or she doesn’t seem to have the authority to prohibit a nuclear attack altogether. Once the bad guys provide documentation that they will cover the costs of inconveniencing everyone with Armageddon, the bureaucrat must sign off on the attack plans.

The constitution doesn’t provide any specific penalties for failure to comply with these requirements but does give the state’s legislature the authority to impose additional restrictions or conditions. The Legal Department for Commonplace Fun Facts has been unable to find any laws that spell out the punishment for destroying Colorado without permission. At the very least, evil-doers run the risk of making the voters of the state very cross.

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