Contact: Michelle Sanborn
Concord, NH – The proposed New Hampshire Community Rights Amendment moved another step forward for the 2016 Legislative Session last week, receiving its assigned bill number Constitutional Amendment Concurrent Resolution (CACR) 14.
The rights-based amendment, drafted by the New Hampshire Community Rights Network (NHCRN) with the assistance of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), is sponsored by House Representative Susan Emerson of Rindge, NH. The Community Rights Amendment has received bi-partisan support from legislative co-sponsors from both the House and the Senate, and is gaining increased attention across the state.
For years, New Hampshire communities have worked through state regulatory processes and agencies, such as the Site Evaluation Committee, to stop harmful corporate projects. They have had little success. Projects such as Northern Pass, industrial wind, and pipelines continue to move forward. As the people of New Hampshire come up against a legal structure designed to advance corporate activity, regardless of community wishes, they find their Towns are being used as resource colonies for corporate profit.
Today, these communities are working locally and at the state level to challenge corporate claimed “rights,” and to change our legal structure in order to protect clean air, pure water, and uncontaminated soil, the character and aesthetics of rural life, and religious freedom for all; to prevent GMO contamination of local crops, militarization of local police, and erosion of religious freedom; and to create sustainable energy futures and free and fair elections.
The people of New Hampshire, rather than continuing to waste time, energy, and financial resources in regulatory red herrings, instead are partnering with NHCRN and CELDF, and enacting local rights-based ordinances that establish Community Bills of Rights, prohibiting those corporate activities that violate rights that are recognized within local laws. With the New Hampshire Community Rights Amendment, they are working to drive those rights into the state constitution – recognizing that constitutionalizing inalienable rights to protect themselves and the places where they live is the next step to ensure protection of local self-government.
The collaborative effort between NHCRN, CELDF, and local communities to draft a constitutional amendment serves to strengthen the right of people and their local governments throughout the state with the authority to enact local laws that protect rights of natural persons, communities, and their natural environments at the municipal level. This proposed amendment respects local choice; if a community chooses not to use their authority under the New Hampshire Community Rights Amendment, nothing in its local codes, laws or charter will change.
The New Hampshire Community Rights Amendment has three key components:
- Right to Local Self-Government: The Amendment secures the right of people in municipalities across New Hampshire to local, community self-government. Local self-governance is defined by the core principles of the Declaration of Independence and the New Hampshire Constitution – including the right to alter or abolish current systems of government if they fail to protect the liberty or well-being of the people living within communities served by these governments.
- Rights of People, Communities, and Nature: The Amendment recognizes that people, communities, and nature have rights to health and well-being, and the authority to prohibit activities that violate those rights.
- Expanding and Protecting Fundamental Rights: The Amendment ensures that people and their communities may use their lawmaking power to enact local laws that expand rights and protections for people, communities, and nature. Any efforts to restrict fundamental rights under this Amendment are prohibited.
Legislators, Select Boards, and citizens interested in supporting or learning more about NH Community Rights Amendment CACR 14, may reach the NHCRN at firstname.lastname@example.org.