To The Daily Sun,
Did you know that our individual right to collectively come together and cast a vote on matters that actually mean something to our everyday lives is simply rendered illegal here in New Hampshire unless the state specifically enables legislation granting local authority to pass such a law?
What’s the point of local government when we don’t get to decide what is best for our health, safety, and welfare at the local level? Why bother serving for a local public office when you can be penalized and held personally liable? Laws created by the NH State Legislature are supposed to protect its people, yet truth be told, laws coming from the state legislature are denying protections for Granite State people, communities, and ecosystems.
Specifically, issues of clean air, water, soil; acceptance of all human beings no matter where they are from or how they got here; food sovereignty, election integrity, waste management practices, sustainable energy choices, water quality and access, labor practices, farming practices; among many other issues, are all governed beyond our local communities while at the same time, through preemption, the state denies us any local decision-making authority over these issues, rendering us powerless to enact local laws that might help our economy or protect people and natural ecosystems.
And now, it seems it is not enough to be rendered powerless at the local level to protect our health, safety, and welfare for the NH Legislature has felt it necessary to consider legislation meant to penalize local officials and hold them personally liable for acting contrary to the State in matters of local lawmaking that afford greater protections for the local community than the State allows.
First introduced in 2018, HB1749 sought to penalize and hold local officials personally liable for any local legislation regarding firearms and knives that have not been authorized by the State. In House Calendar 5, page 24, Rep. McCarthy suggested that restricting such penalties to only firearms and knives is not broad enough and that local elected officials should be penalized for any and all local legislation not specifically authorized by the state. During the October 10th executive session of the Municipal & County Government committee, an amendment (2018-2139h, by Rep. McClean) was proposed that rewrote HB1749 to do just that. The amendment was not taken up by the committee this year, but don’t be surprised to see this as a new bill in the future.
All of this might seem out of character for the Granite state since New Hampshire has a long history of believing we have “local control”, however, the reality of local control is far from the belief. As a colonial state, the reality of local control existed long before the state or federal governments were created. New Hampshire was the first to adopt a form of government independent of British rule in January of 1776 — six months before the Declaration of Independence was signed. However, the current state constitution adopted in June of 1784 created an entirely new form of government. One that mirrors the British rule we initially separated ourselves from.
In the first part of the NH State Constitution, the Bill of Rights, Article 10. [Right of Revolution] says that whenever the ends of government are perverted and publicly liberty is manifestly endangered, the people may and of right ought to reform the old or establish a new government. It even goes so far as to say, “The doctrine of nonresistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind.”
It isn’t enough to have the right to change our form of government if we don’t have the recognized authority to do so. People across the Granite State are coming together to push back against such arbitrary power and oppression with a peoples’ state constitutional amendment that would specifically recognize the right of local community self-government — the right to a system of local government founded on the consent of the people of the municipality; the right to a system of local government that secures their rights; and the right to alter any system of local government that lacks consent or fails to secure and protect the people’s rights, health, safety, and welfare.
The NH Community Rights Network (NHCRN) is a grassroots, statewide nonprofit that informs communities and elected officials about our right of local self-government in order to secure and protect the inherent and unalienable rights of all inhabitants of New Hampshire to economic, social and environmental justice, including the rights of nature. To learn more about how you can get involved email email@example.com and visit www.nhcommunityrights.org.
Serving president of NHCRN