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N.H. Community Rights Amendment headed for full vote in House

To The Daily Sun,

Language for a state constitutional amendment was drafted in October of last year by the New Hampshire Community Rights Network (NHCRN) with the assistance of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund.

The Community Rights Amendment CACR 14, adding Article 40 — Right of Local Community Self-Government — to Part First of the New Hampshire State Constitution gained bipartisan sponsorship from prime sponsor, state Rep. Susan Emerson, and co-sponsors Suzanne Smith, Mary Cooney, Steve Darrow, Wayne Burton, and state Sen. Jeanie Forrester. If passed, the proposed amendment will empower towns throughout New Hampshire with the authority to enact local laws to protect individual and community rights, and their natural environments, free from state pre-emption and corporate interference.

The path leading to its legislative introduction began in town meetings across the state, where Community Bills of Rights laws, drafted by communities in partnership with CELDF, have been introduced as warrant articles. Nearly a dozen communities in New Hampshire have enacted these rights-based local laws to protect their drinking water, human and animal health, local economies, rural aesthetics, and the sustainability of their natural resources as well as their communities, from violation of their rights by a long list of corporate harms, including large groundwater withdrawals, fossil fuel pipelines, high voltage transmission lines, and industrial wind turbines.

For the first time in the United States, a state legislative committee held a public hearing on a community rights state constitutional amendment. Last month, in the presence of corporate lobbyists representing Kinder Morgan, Eversource, EDP Renewables, the Business Industry Association, and Americans for Prosperity, residents from across New Hampshire testified before the House Legislative Administration Committee in support of the measure. With standing room only, residents spoke of their rights to protect the places where they live from harmful projects proposed by the very corporations represented by the lobbyists in the room.

Instead of representing residents, the real people of New Hampshire, committee members represented corporate interests by recommending unanimously to kill the rights-based state constitutional amendment.

Now the N.H. Community Rights Amendment CACR 14 is headed to the next House session for a vote on March 9 or 10. Visit www.nhcommunityrights.org for information on how to reach out to your elected officials encouraging them to support CACR 14.

Michelle Sanborn
NHCRN Coordinator
New Hampshire Community Rights Network

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