One-third of state legislature supports Community Rights Amendment; momentum building to advance rights


Michelle Sanborn, New Hampshire Community Organizer

CONCORD, NH: Yesterday, the New Hampshire House debated and voted on CACR19, the NH Community Rights Amendment, which received one-third of the legislators’ support. This is the first Community Rights state constitutional amendment considered by a state legislature, signifying the growing support for Community Rights that is building across the U.S. Similar state amendments are advancing as citizen initiatives in Ohio and Oregon.

Community Rights is growing as communities across the country face harmful corporate projects such as fracking, pipelines, high-tower electrical transmission lines, and landfills. These projects are forced into towns against the will of the people due to corporate claimed “rights” and state preemption.

In response, communities are partnering with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) to draft Community Rights laws. Community Rights includes democratic rights to local community self-government, and environmental rights to clean air, water, and soil. The laws elevate these rights above corporate claimed “rights” and state preemption. Nearly 200 communities across the U.S. have worked with CELDF to draft and advance rights-based laws. Today, through statewide Networks, residents are driving Community Rights to the state level.

CACR19 was drafted by the New Hampshire Community Rights Network (NHCRN), with assistance from CELDF. The amendment recognizes the authority of people in towns throughout the state to enact local laws protecting individual and Community Rights, free from corporate interference and state preemption. That authority includes the right to protect the natural environment.

The amendment was sponsored by House Representative Ellen Read of Rockingham, District 17, and received bi-partisan co-sponsorship from eight additional representatives from districts across the state.

Representative Read declared, “This marks a significant day in the growing Community Rights movement, and I am pleased that 112 legislators understand the importance of recognizing the people’s right to govern their communities. We are the public servants. It is our job to place the people’s amendment on the ballot and let the people decide. CACR19 will be back!”

CELDF’s Community Rights Organizer and the NHCRN’s president Michelle Sanborn responded, “We know from prior people’s movements that fundamental change comes from persistent, unrelenting pressure. As corporate threats grow, we are encouraged by the strong support received from Representative Read and her colleagues. The House’s growing support of the people’s right to vote serves as an inspiration for more communities to join the New Hampshire Community Rights Movement. Indeed, it already has!”

New Hampshire Part of Growing Movement

New Hampshire residents are advancing Community Rights as part of the broader Community Rights movement building across the U.S. Local communities and state Community Rights Networks are partnering with CELDF to advance and protect fundamental democratic and environmental rights. They are working with CELDF to establish Community Rights and the Rights of Nature in law, and prohibit extraction, fracking, factory farming, water privatization, and other industrial activities as violations of those rights. Communities are joining together within and across states, working with CELDF to advance systemic change – recognizing our existing system of law and governance as inherently undemocratic and unsustainable.

Additional Information

For additional information regarding Community Rights, contact CELDF at To learn about the New Hampshire Community Rights Network, visit Select Boards and citizens interested in supporting the New Hampshire Community Rights Amendment may contact Michelle Sanborn at

About CELDF — Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit, public interest law firm providing free and affordable legal services to communities facing threats to their local environment, local agriculture, local economy, and quality of life. Its mission is to build sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the rights of nature.

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