The Local Self-Government Amendment joins efforts in New Hampshire, Ohio, and Oregon, to advance Community Rights state constitutional change.  



Chad Nicholson
Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
Pennsylvania Community Organizer

EXTON, PA: Last week, State Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, D-Chester, announced a proposal for an amendment to the Pennsylvania constitution, HB 1813.

The “Local Self-Government Amendment” places the rights of people over the interests of private corporations and empowers communities to heighten state protections for civil, human and ecosystem rights.

Amendment language contains: “The right to local self-government includes, without limitation, the power to enact local laws: (1) protecting health, safety and welfare by establishing the rights of people, their communities and nature and by securing those rights using prohibitions and other means; and (2) establishing, defining, altering or eliminating the rights, powers and duties of corporations and other business entities operating or seeking to operate in the community.”

At a press conference, Rep. Otten stated, “Under current law in Pennsylvania, corporations can sue state and federal governments to override community attempts to protect themselves from projects with the potential to cause great personal or environmental harm. It is time we correct that failure.” Rep. Otten has worked to oppose a fossil fuel pipeline in her community.

For two decades, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) has worked with hundreds of communities to advance rights-based laws protecting communities from factory farming, land application of sewage sludge, fracking, and other harms, by recognizing democratic and environmental rights. In Pennsylvania, communities joined together to form the Pennsylvania Community Rights Network in 2010, which partnered with CELDF to draft language for the state amendment.

Across Pennsylvania, communities are prevented from making decisions on the minimum wage, hydraulic fracturing, corporate agriculture, prisons, fossil fuel pipelines, and many other critical issues. This amendment would change that.

“Our communities have been sacrificed for too long, and fighting one issue at a time has not worked. It’s time we fix the fundamental problems that have removed authority from our communities and given harmful corporate interests too much power. We stand with Rep. Otten to change our constitution so that the words, ‘All power is inherent in the people,’ mean something,” said Chad Nicholson, Pennsylvania Community Organizer for CELDF.

Pennsylvania joins networks of grassroots groups in New Hampshire, Ohio, and Oregon, that are partnering with CELDF to advance similar state constitutional change.

About CELDF — Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund 

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) is building a movement for Community Rights and the Rights of Nature to advance democratic, economic, social, and environmental rights – building upward from the grassroots to the state, federal, and international level.

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