By Monica Christofili
If you want something done, do it with your community. Forty-four years ago, this sentiment rallied Durham residents who protected the Great Bay estuary system from oil refinery development. It’s also one of the sentiments that brought together Alliance for Newmarket Citizen & Ecosystem Rights. ANCER is an ad hoc community group founded in 2017 to empower Newmarket’s residents to protect their water and the Great Bay estuary from future chemical trespass.
But the estuary has already been contaminated by toxic Naval firefighting foam from Portsmouth’s former Pease Air Force Base and by chemicals traveling down tributaries affected by Greenland’s Coakley Landfill. So why try preventing what’s already happened? Because new threats loom over the estuary and Newmarket’s Lamprey River watershed.
Firstly, word is that Pinard Waste Management hopes to transition its Raymond recycling transfer station — approved on the Lamprey near a flood zone — into a solid waste transfer station. Secondly, Liberty Utility has planned its Granite Bridge Pipeline project to twice cross the Lamprey in Raymond. Finally, Eversource’s Seacoast Reliability Project will drill through Little Bay to create a power passage with towering transmission poles alongside the estuary.
Eversource’s project troubles ANCER members and Durham and Newington residents for a number of reasons. For one, its drilling would cause irreparable harm to the estuary’s fragile, recovering oyster bed ecosystem by stirring up 100s of years of toxic industry run-off that has settled and been contained in the bay’s sediment. The documentary Great Bay: Estuary in Peril details this damage Eversource’s “reliability” project would cause.
Nonetheless, this February, the NH Dept. of Environmental Services recommended Eversource’s project to the Site Evaluation Committee in a “lesser evil” buried version to be worked on with “safer” drills than originally proposed — yet still chemically trespassing into the estuary.
NHDES scientists may mean well, but they work in a system designed as a one-stop shop for corporate project applications; in other words, state permitting agencies find ways to at best limit rather than block harm so that applications move forward — they permit harmful projects.
In response, and with assistance from Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), ANCER is organizing a community citizens’ effort to bring forth a rights-based ordinance (RBO) to protect Newmarket’s residents, watershed, and waterways by banning future chemical trespass as a matter of inherent and inalienable rights of people and ecosystems to exist without being poisoned, thereby protecting the Great Bay and surrounding water.
Newmarket would not be the first New Hampshire town to adopt an RBO — some 11 New Hampshire towns adopted RBOs after recognizing that the current structure of law and government is set up to protect neither them nor the environment and that the only remedy left is to protect themselves locally. Consequently, RBOs are based on the collective power of community members exercising their individual right to democratically manifest the social and environmental health and viability they envision for their human residents and surrounding ecosystems.
ANCER encourages other towns on and near the estuary and its tributaries to adopt RBOs of their own, creating a powerful ring of democratic, common sense, and constitutional community ordinances that corporations will have to face if their projects threaten Seacoast water and the human and natural communities depending on it.
In fact, ANCER is part of a statewide local democracy movement working to amend New Hampshire’s Bill of Rights to recognize the right of local self-government in order to empower New Hampshire communities to make local governing decisions that elevate the rights of people and ecosystems above the right that corporations have to harm them.
This 2018, NH Community Rights Network (NHCRN) worked with bi-partisan legislative support to propose such a state constitutional amendment. One third of the N.H. House supported the amendment and the right of NH residents to protect people and ecosystems in the face of corporate harm. To learn more, visit www.nhcommunityrights.org, or email email@example.com.
— Monica Christofili, of Newmarket, is ANCER co-founder
This week, the NH House voted 217-112 that the NH Community Rights Amendment, CACR19, be inexpedient-to-legislate (ITL), blocking it from going to the Senate and blocking Granite State voters' democratic, constitutional right to decide if they want to reform our state government to protect people, planet, & principles over profit.
New Hampshire House Denies Granite-Staters' Vote
on Proposed Constitutional Amendment
WATCH 30 MIN. CACR19 NH HOUSE DEBATE
To the right of the video, click on "Agenda" to select CACR19. Or simply press play and scroll ahead to the 1 hour 21 minute mark.
POSITIVE HIGHLIGHTS FROM CACR19'S JOURNEY
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Let your Reps know what you think of
their roll call vote on CACR19.
Yea votes supporting ITL were against CACR19 and denied the people the legitimate democratic process to vote on a matter that directly affects our health, safety, and welfare.
Nay votes against ITL were supporting CACR19 and empowered the people's right to decide whether or not they wanted to protect people, places, and principle over profit.
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CACR19 Sentiments From NH Citizen
LTEs & Letters to Reps
We, the people, far outnumber “them”, the corporations. While individuals may not have the financial clout of corporations, we have the right to our health, well being, and safety--none of which are possible without clean air and water, healthy, productive agricultural soils, scenic beauty, and other assets increasingly threatened by overreaching wealthy corporations. The NH Community Rights Amendment will empower our communities with local governing authority to preserve these immeasurable assets while maintaining all of our existing fundamental rights, including the right to bear arms.
This bill is not a taking, but a giving back.
Jeanne Sable -- Fitzwilliam, NH
Throughout recorded human history there has been an ongoing struggle between the rulers and the ruled. The rulers have been the wealthy, powerful elite, and the ruled have been the working classes and the poor. The American Revolution was a time when the ruled rose up to take control of their destiny from the King of England and his wealthy patrons. It is time for We the People to rise again. The New Hampshire Community Rights Amendment is working to revitalize our democracy by empowering every city and town with the right of local control.
Peter White -- Nottingham, NH
Since 2014, I have witnessed how decisions are made in Concord that protect individual, special, and an unresponsive system's interests while ignoring facts and uncomfortable truths and disrespecting ordinary citizens, our rights, and even other legislators who serve on the same committee--all to "win" a political point at any cost. A more mature democracy deals with honest differences honestly. Trust and mutual respect are essential so people can work together for the common good. Concord isn't the model for us to emulate at the local level. No question, democratic decision making at the local level CAN be messy. It crosses political divides and strengthens communities; we learn to listen to those "different" voices, stop undermining each other, and make the best decision we can for now, knowing future reality may mean we need to change it. That's what our earliest citizens did in ratifying the 1784 constitution and what we need to do today in adapting to the corporate and big money interests that now polarize and dominate our politics.
Deborah Sumner -- Jaffrey, NH
indepthnh.org/2018/03/05/opinion-nh-towns-act-to-protect-community-rights/To the Editor: Towns Act To Protect Community Rights
There is a community rights movement in New Hampshire and across the Nation for cities and towns to act to protect their health, safety, and welfare through local ordinances. This is the right thing for EVERY town to do!
Nottingham passed a Rights Based Ordinance (RBO) in 2008 to ban commercial water extraction when USA Springs wanted to pump us dry – we stopped them and we protected our water supplies. Barnstead and Barrington did the same thing, and Atkinson also passed a RBO to protect their water supplies.
On March 17, Nottingham residents at Town Meeting will vote on a ban against toxic waste dumping (Article 19). An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure!
Sugar Hill, Easton, and Plymouth have passed RBO’s prohibiting high voltage transmission lines and that helped to oppose the Northern Pass project.
Grafton, Danbury, Hebron, and Alexandria passed RBO’s to stop commercial wind turbines from sprouting all over their towns. Sustainable renewable energy must be of, by, and for the people.
Durham is now organizing to stop Great Bay from dredging by Eversource that will cause severe environmental damage, and Newmarket is in the midst of an RBO effort to prevent chemical trespass in the Great Bay and the surrounding watershed. Act now before they dig it up and poison the water, afterwards will be too late.
Towns are becoming mobilized to stop Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) pipelines and storage facilities. The Granite Bridge pipeline will endanger every community on its route with highly explosive LNG, especially the Epping area where they want to build a storage tank 140 feet tall. One spark, one human error, one malfunction, and BOOM the whole region will be affected by that disaster, including Exeter! Then it will be too late to do anything, as it is for communities being destroyed by gas fracking.
The Legislature is now considering CACR 19 for an Amendment to the NH Constitution’s Bill of Rights that will make it clear that towns and cities have the right to self-protection and control of their destiny. Please get involved in your town and also call your Representatives to vote against the efforts to kill this crucial piece of Legislation. We the People must lead to get our leaders to follow!
Sincerely, Peter A. White, Treasurer, NH Community Rights Network
The legislative subcommittee studying CACR 19 supported (3-2) bringing this constitutional amendment to the people for a vote, but the House Municipal and County Government Committee will recommend (11-8) the House not allow us that opportunity.
I better understand how difficult our legislators’ jobs are and how little time they have to really understand complex issues. Did committee members favor the authoritarian model of government, under the influence of money and lobbyists, or moving toward a more mature (and yes, messy) democratic decision-making process that includes ordinary citizens?
The Legislature believes it is smarter than the people, Rep. Steven Rand, D-Plymouth, said, so have to make that decision for us. He disagreed. “I think the people are smart.”
Rep. Vincent Migliore, R-Bridgewater, chose not to “succumb to fear and doubt” and extensively researched to understand the proposed amendment before signing on in support. He had confidence citizens can do the same.
However, Chair James Belanger, Vice Chairman Frank Sterling and Rep. Frank McCarthy evidently see their job as stopping democratic decision-making at the local level because they don’t trust it: Anarchy, “damage beyond realization,” “devastate,” “abomination,” “234 separate city states.”
What would this amendment do? It codifies the constitutional right we already have to protect the health, safety and welfare of our communities against corporate harms and their court-bestowed personhood “rights.” Under the current interpretation of courts, those rights trump the civil and political rights of real people trying to protect our communities. That is not what my 12 Revolutionary War ancestors fought for and it is not what our elected officials take an oath to protect.
A sincere thank you to Rep. Bruce Tatro from Swanzey and Rep. David Meader from Keene, who listened to their constituents as well as the two opposing views.
I hope more citizens will do their own research. Why were the gun lobby and Americans for Prosperity (funded by the Koch brothers) opposed? Why did 600 New Hampshire citizens sign a petition supporting it and so many of us travel to Concord more than once to watch “our” government at work?
Contact www.nhcommunityrights.org to begin educating yourselves and become part of the conversation at the local level.
By ANNIE ROPEIK
CORRECTION: HOUSE VOTE WAS 217 TO 112
The state House has again rejected a bid to give New Hampshire towns more control over their own environmental protections – but advocates of the constitutional amendment say they're making progress.
Organizer Michelle Sanborn with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund says the House barely debated the proposal the first time around, in 2016.
So she's encouraged by Thursday’s House vote of 271 to 112 against it.
"One third of the House supported elevating the right of New Hampshire people... basically to pass laws protecting health, safety and welfare of individuals but also their communities and natural environments above corporate activities that harm them,” she says.
As in most states, New Hampshire's legislature must grant towns all their governing powers – a system known as Dillon's Rule. Opponents say the amendment would create too much of the opposite, known as home rule, which allows more local freedom to govern.
Sanborn says this year's debate already has more towns interested in passing their own environmental laws, to protect against big energy developments or water quality threats. The amendment would help those laws stand up in court.
“The New Hampshire constitution is very clear about where the power originates, and that is with the people,” she says. “I think that awareness is growing and taking root in people.”
She says she was also pleased to have support this year from legislators outside of towns affected by issues the amendment addresses.
Her organization hopes to campaign for the amendment again next year. They say it’s the first community rights constitutional amendment to reach a state legislature.
"If we've learned anything from prior people's movements, it's that fundamental change comes from persistent, unrelenting pressure," Sanborn says.
The legislature isn't their only option to push the proposal in New Hampshire. Every 10 years, the state votes on whether to hold an open constitutional convention.
It's happened just five times since 1793, and comes up next in 2022.
NH House Calendar, No. 10 March 9, 2018 (pg. 7)
MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT CACR 19, relating to right to govern. Providing that the people of the state may enact local laws that protect health, safety and welfare.
MAJORITY: INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE.
Rep. Franklin Sterling for the Majority of Municipal and County Government. This amendment is an attempt to change the NH Constitution and permit “Home Rule” giving veto power to any community in area wide projects. Passage of this amendment would allow one community to forbid a highway construction or expansion in their community although the surrounding communities desired it. When Planning Boards consider projects with “regional impact” they consult neighboring communities that will be affected. This amendment would render that purpose impractical since a community would no longer need to consider how a project would affect their neighbors. The philosophy behind this Constitutional Amendment could be extended to neighborhoods within a community pitting one neighborhood against another. The result would be discord and dissatisfaction with no overall state control or influence. The effect might be different rules from community to community relating to leash laws, taxi cabs, highway uses with different weight limits, municipal sales taxes, firearm controls and a myriad of other quality of life provisions guaranteed to us by the state. Vote 11-8.
MINORITY: OUGHT TO PASS.
Rep. Steven Rand for the Minority of Municipal and County Government. This constitutional amendment adds a new article (40) to the Bill of Rights of the NH State Constitution. The article makes plain that communities may enact local ordinances that protect the “health, safety and welfare” (a well understood phrase used in 151 NH statutes) of their local citizens and of nature. At the same time, it does NOT allow the establishment of ordinances that would remove or weaken any existing protections or rights of natural persons currently secured by local, state or federal law (such as second amendment rights). We heard testimony from many NH communities who wished to limit or deny a corporate wind, water, or contaminant project only to find that they did not have the constitutional standing to prevail against the constitutional “personhood” civil rights of a corporation in a court of law. The corporation’s financial resources and constitutional civil rights made for an unfair fight in the courts. This amendment levels the playing field. Because this amendment’s purpose is to recognize limited constitutional power to communities, it will, within its purview, make a substantive change to the parent-child relationship of the State to cities and towns. Within narrow limits, it gives towns the flexibility to address matters of local concern without needing state enabling legislation. The minority believes that this substantive matter must be decided by the people themselves as the ultimate stakeholders in our system of government, through the popular vote of the amendment process. As we proceed toward a vote on the amendment, citizens should and will take the time to educate themselves and decide their best interests on this balance of power/rights-based question. It is our obligation as their representatives, to pass the amendment so they can learn, decide and vote.
Due to lengthy sessions & inclement weather, the NH Community Rights Amendment, CACR19, will now be
debated by the NH House on
Thursday March 15th - Starting at 9:30am
107 N. Main Street, Concord, NH 03301
Please join NHCRN in the
State House Lobby at 8:30 AM
to hold signs and hand out CACR19 flyers to Reps as they enter the Hall for session.
THIS MEANS MORE TIME
to CALL & EMAIL
all 400 NH House Representatives (Reps) asking them
to vote "NO ITL" on CACR19's majority committee
recommendation of inexpedient-to-legislate (ITL)
and to support the minority recommendation of
Contact Roster for Full NH House
Call all the Reps in your county.
Remember to leave your name, town, & number at the end of the call.
Full NH House Email
Write all House Reps in one email.
Remember to add your name & address at the end of your message.
REPS WANT & NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU
Use the NH Community Rights Amendment FAQ to help personalize your message and prepare you for questions Reps may have.
If you aren't sure how to answer a question, please ask if you can get back to them on it. Then email the question to NHCRN for a response to share with the representative.
SAMPLE TALKING POINTS
Vote NO ITL on CACR19: Protect Rights of Real People Over Corporations
"I encourage you to support placing the NH Community Rights Amendment CACR19 on the November ballot for a democratic vote by the People. The need for a state constitutional amendment securing and protecting the Right of Local Community Self-Government is obvious. Today, the law elevates rights of private corporations over the rights of people who live in New Hampshire communities. Private corporations regularly invoke these rights and privileges when their interests conflict with the communities' attempts to protect local health, safety and welfare. CACR19 protects the rights of real people in New Hampshire over the interests of private corporations. Vote NO ITL on CACR19."
Vote NO ITL on CACR19: Protect NH People & Natural Resources
"I ask you to support the NH Community Rights Amendment CACR19, which empowers our communities with local governing authority to protect our health, safety and welfare along with the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the soil we grow our food in. The NH Community Rights Amendment makes clear that people and municipalities can only use their lawmaking power to enact local laws that create greater protections for people, communities, and nature, NOT to restrict or weaken fundamental rights. Protect the people and natural resources of New Hampshire by voting in favor of placing CACR19 on the November ballot. Vote NO ITL on CACR19."
Vote NO ITL on CACR19: Protect Local Governing Authority
"I encourage you to support the NH Community Rights Amendment CACR19 because it is the activities of corporations, not the rights of people that the state holds authority to regulate. Rights of natural people must come first. It is the right of people to govern the activities of corporations that are chartered in the "name of the people". It is unjust for the state to place governance of corporate behavior beyond the people, limiting the use of local governments by the citizens. The people have an inherent and unalienable right of self-government in the communities where they live, including authority to govern the behavior of business activities. Support local control and vote NO ITL on CACR19."
1) NH CITIZENS WANT GREATER PROTECTION
Granite State citizens have no equal standing against harmful corporate activities & “personhood” that consistently appeal to state preemption to remove any recourse the people of NH have to protect their communities from becoming sacrifice zones to profit marketed as a “greater good.”
CACR19 empowers people in their communities to protect community interests over profit.
2) COMMUNITY RIGHTS-BASED PROTECTION
CACR19 addresses this inequality by seeking to recognize, secure, & protect the individual & political right & authority of people in NH municipalities to enact local rights-based laws that prohibit corporate activites violating their rights to the health, safety, & welfare of their human communities & the air, water, & soil on which they depend.
CACR19 recognizes local authority to protect health, safety, & welfare as a matter of right.
3) EXPANDING, NOT LIMITING RIGHTS
CACR19’s language ensures local rights-based laws could not weaken real persons’ existing rights—including 2nd Amendment rights—under state & federal constitution & law, but could be used only to expand rights. 2008 & 2010 U.S. Supreme Court precedents declared 2ndAmendment rights are individual constitutional rights & consequently protected by CACR19’s language.
CACR19 recognizes authority to protect & expand individual rights.
4) AMENDMENT VS. LAW
Rights are not gifted by but recognized & enumerated within constitutions, so CACR19 is not a proposed law but a proposed constitutional amendment seeking to enumerate the right of local community self-government within NH’s Constitution the same way freed slaves' equal rights were recognized within the U.S. Constitution.
CACR19 recognizes limited local control at the municipal level.
VOTE “NO ITL” ON CACR19
Empower your constituents with the opportunity to decide on November’s ballot if they want a recognized right to protect people, places, & principles over profit.
To the editor:
Thank you to the eight House Municipal and County Government Committee members who voted in support of CACR 19 two weeks ago.
The Constitutional Amendment for Community Rights will provide municipalities with the opportunity to determine what development they want for their communities, and among other protections, allow towns to protect the natural resources that support the people who live in them. Rep. Vincent Migliore (R-Grafton) took the time and effort to study the proposed amendment to understand its benefit to N.H. residents and Rep. Clyde Carson (D-Merrimack) stated it would give communities equal footing with large corporations.
It was unfortunate that the committee chairman would not allow the subcommittee to provide their findings prior to the executive vote on the amendment. It is unfortunate many of the members lack an understanding of community rights, or are fearful of providing N.H. voters a choice to decide for themselves what is best for their communities.
You can learn more about the NH Community Rights Network at www.nhcommunityrights.org.
Mark and Nancy Watson
Michelle Sanborn, the president and coordinator of the New Hampshire Community Rights Network who also represents the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, holds a copy of the New Hampshire Constitution, which forms the basis for rights-based ordinances. Sanborn, a resident of Alexandria, initiated an RBO for that town, and assisted in crafting the ordinance that Ashland residents will be voting on next Tuesday. Behind her is the Alexandria Town Hall. (Tom Caldwell, Laconia Daily Sun)
By THOMAS P. CALDWELL, LACONIA DAILY SUN
ASHLAND — The Northern Pass hydroelectric project, like the prospect of wind towers on area mountaintops, has fueled an interest in rights-based ordinances, which empower communities to set limits on development that residents feel would adversely impact their health, safety, and welfare.
Whether such ordinances are legal in New Hampshire is an open question that has yet to be tested in court. A proposed constitutional amendment would settle the question by inserting the right to local self-government into the New Hampshire Constitution.
Plymouth recently adopted a rights-based ordinance, and Ashland has a petitioned RBO article on the Town Meeting ballot, both aimed at stopping projects like Northern Pass.
Opponents of the ordinance point to the denial of Eversource’s application for a permit from the state’s Site Evaluation Committee as evidence that the current system works, and say a rights-based ordinance can have unintended consequences and potentially pit towns and neighbors against one another.
Similarly, a House committee that heard testimony on Constitutional Amendment Concurrent Resolution 19, that would recognize RBOs, has deemed it inexpedient to legislate, which would effectively kill it instead of forwarding it on to voters for a decision.
Even without constitutional protection, rights-based ordinances are effective in fighting “corporate personhood” — the view that companies such as Eversource have a right to do what they wish, where they wish — according to Michelle Sanborn of Alexandria, who serves as president and coordinator of the New Hampshire Community Rights Network and represents the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. Since persuading her town to adopt an RBO, she has assisted residents of other communities, including Ashland, in drafting their own rights-based ordinances.
Sanborn said Ashland would be the 12th community in the state to adopt an RBO. There are almost 200 such ordinances across the nation, she said.
“Here in New Hampshire, RBOs have been effective in stopping four industrial wind turbine projects and one corporate water withdrawal project,” she said. “Four communities are using them to oppose Northern Pass, and four new communities have expressed an interest in using RBOs to secure their right to decide about fossil fuel pipeline and liquified natural gas storage projects.”
She noted that Nottingham has held off USA Springs and its investors for 10 years after enacting an RBO. The company had gone through the standard regulatory process and was ready to tap into the town’s aquifer when passage of an RBO stopped the process.
Her own town of Alexandria, along with other Newfound/Mount Cardigan towns, has used RBOs to hold off industrial wind projects for the past four years.
Each ordinance can be crafted to meet that particular community’s needs, Sanborn said. Ashland’s would prohibit land acquisition for “unsustainable” energy systems, defined in the ordinance as energy systems controlled by state and federal energy policies, rather than community policies; industrial-scale water and wind power that is not municipally owned and operated; and non-renewable energy sources or those that produce toxins or substances that are injurious to humans or ecosystems. The ordinance provides exceptions for non-commercial energy produced for on-site use.
One of the problems some people have with the ordinance is that, since state and federal government regulates virtually all power, the ordinance effectively defines any power source as “unsustainable” unless it is used on-site. There is an exception for utility companies operating under contract with the town, and those previously operating in Ashland.
Other provisions of Ashland’s ordinance ban toxic waste disposal and exploratory data collection, engineering and geotechnical work associated with an unsustainable energy system.
Sanborn said the ordinance does not require the town to enforce its provisions if the community decides it desires a particular energy project.
“What the RBO does is give the community a decision-making seat at the table, as a matter of right, that they do not currently have through any state regulatory process,” she said.
The idea behind rights-based ordinances is that both the United States and New Hampshire constitutions assert the right of self-government, but New Hampshire law operates on a top-down basis, saying that any municipal rights derive from enabling legislation by the state. Local control is a myth under such a system.
Corporations are able to navigate through the laws and regulations to achieve what they desire, and towns and cities can only impose restrictions. If a town wants to stop a project, it has to rely on the courts.
A rights-based ordinance bypasses the judicial system by bringing the decision to the local level.
Yet detractors argue that it will end up in court, anyway. Mardean Badger, in a letter to The Laconia Daily Sun, said, “The proposed ordinance may set neighbor against neighbor, townspeople against the town, the town against the state, and the town against the federal government. ... The Water and Sewer Department could be sued for filing for permits from NHDES or the EPA or for simply following state and federal regulations. You could be sued for cutting down trees on your property because your neighbor could claim that you are destroying an ecosystem or violating the rights of living things.”
During hearings in Concord on CACR 19, which asserts that, “All government of right originates from the people, is founded in their consent, and instituted for the general good,” the constitutional amendment faced opposition from legislators who reminded speakers that New Hampshire is not a home rule state. Having a 400-member House of Representatives ensures that people have an adequate voice in setting policy, they said.
Sanborn testified, “This is a people’s amendment. It brings clarity to the people, the courts, and businesses. It gives people a right to protect themselves.”
Passing the amendment would give rights-based ordinance legal status, allowing people to challenge development that they believe would adversely affect their town. It would take the approval process out of the regulatory arena and make it a constitutional matter, proponents said.
Should the legislature pass the amendment, it still would have to be approved by two-thirds of the state’s residents.
A subcommittee voted, 3-2, to recommend passage of the bill, but when it went before the full Municipal and County Government Committee, Vice Chairman Franklin Sterling moved to label it as inexpedient to legislate.
Rep. Steve Rand (D-Plymouth) objected because the committee had not had a chance to offer its recommendation, but the chairman allowed the motion, leading to an 11-8 vote to “ITL it,” according to Vincent Paul Migliore (R-Bridgewater), a sponsor of the bill, who was the only Republican to support the measure.
“Obviously, it was predetermined that he would do that,” Migliore said. “The motion was seconded, so the discussion in committee was only on the ITL, rather than the report by the subcommittee.”
The bill was on the agenda for action by the full House on March 7 before that body recessed early because of the snowstorm. It is scheduled for action when the House reconvenes on March 15.
The House calendar states both the majority opinion and the minority view.
“Passage of this amendment would allow one community to forbid a highway construction or expansion in their community although the surrounding communities desired it,” the majority wrote. “When Planning Boards consider projects with ‘regional impact’ they consult neighboring communities that will be affected. This amendment would render that purpose impractical since a community would no longer need to consider how a project would affect their neighbors. ... The effect might be different rules from community to community relating to leash laws, taxi cabs, highway uses with different weight limits, municipal sales taxes, firearm controls and a myriad of other quality of life provisions guaranteed to us by the state.”
The minority wrote, “[I]t does NOT allow the establishment of ordinances that would remove or weaken any existing protections or rights of natural persons currently secured by local, state or federal law (such as second amendment rights). ... Within narrow limits, it gives towns the flexibility to address matters of local concern without needing state enabling legislation. The minority believes that this substantive matter must be decided by the people themselves as the ultimate stakeholders in our system of government, through the popular vote of the amendment process.”
Sanborn commented, “Almost a dozen towns over the past decade have enacted RBOs because the right of local, community self-government is an inherent and unalienable right expressed within the Declaration of Independence and carried over into state constitutions. If CACR 19 is not approved by the House to move to the Senate, then people are being denied the right to amend their own Bill of Rights, but that hasn’t stopped any towns so far and, if anything, it will inspire more towns to enact RBOs to correct the balance of power.
“This is not a sprint; it’s a marathon.”
We, the people, far outnumber “them”, the corporations. While individuals may not have the financial clout of corporations, we have the right to our health, well being, and safety — none of which are possible without clean air and water, healthy, productive agricultural soils, scenic beauty, and other assets increasingly threatened by overreaching wealthy corporations.
Your support of the NH Community Rights Amendment CACR19 may not line the pockets of powerful corporations. But the rewards will come in the form of healthier children, abundant natural resources, and the kind of communities that attract business and tourists to beautiful New Hampshire.
CACR19 will empower our communities with local governing authority to preserve these immeasurable assets while maintaining all of our existing fundamental rights, including the right to bear arms. This bill is not a taking, but a giving back.
Please uphold your vow to represent “we, the people” by voting "NO ITL" on CACR19, so that we may get this important community rights amendment on the November ballot for the people to decide.
Jeanne E. Sable
We are calling for bipartisanship solidarity to recognize New Hampshire citizens’ right to self-government that CACR19 seeks to codify as it goes to New Hampshire House debate and vote this week.
Granite State citizens have asked for CACR 19 to recognize and protect in New Hampshire’s Bill of Rights the authority of New Hampshire communities to enact local laws by majority vote to ban harmful corporate projects in order to protect NH citizens and the air, water, and soil on which they depend—so long as local laws wouldn’t limit existing state and constitutional rights of natural persons.
In short, CACR 19 addresses inequality. New Hampshire citizens have neither binding voice nor equal standing against harmful corporate activities and “personhood” that consistently appeal to state preemption to remove any recourse New Hampshire citizens have to prevent their communities and ecosystems from becoming sacrifice zones to profit marketed as a “greater good”.
CACR 19′s 9 bi-partisan sponsors, including 2 Republican NRA members, understand that the language of the amendment ensures that local rights-based laws could not weaken real persons’ existing rights—including 2nd Amendment rights—under state and federal constitution and law but could be used only to expand rights. Moreover, 2008 and 2010 U.S. Supreme Court precedents declared that 2nd Amendment rights are individual constitutional rights, which are protected by CACR 19′s language.
Because rights are not gifted by but recognized and enumerated within constitutions, CACR19 is not a proposed law but a proposed constitutional amendment seeking to enumerate the right of local community self-government within New Hampshire’s Constitution the same way freed slaves’ equal rights were recognized within the U.S. Constitution.
If CACR 19 passes through both New Hampshire’s House and Senate with 3/5 votes, then New Hampshire’s people get to decide if they want the right to elevate and protect people and planet over profit. A 2/3 vote by New Hampshire citizens would codify this right in New Hampshire’s Bill of Rights.
CACR19 co-sponsor Rep. Steven Rand (D) outlines this process for legislators and citizens: “We represent constituents to create statutes, but the people represent themselves constitutionally. The constitution is higher than statutes. Giving them the chance to vote on CACR19 is the one thing we can do to support their ability to protect their health, safety, and welfare. It will help them expand, not decrease their rights.”
Rep. Ellen Read (D), CACR19′s proposer, asks her fellow Representatives to understand the worth of this expansion of rights: “I truly hope my colleagues join me in supporting CACR19 because it means doing exactly what we came to Concord to do—protect the people and ecosystems of NH. This Amendment places the power back into the hands of the governed, the very thing our Revolutionary ancestors fought for.”
The Revolutionaries of this country fought for something intangible but rich—the right to pursue a self-determined life of honesty and goodness. For our legislators to deny us an enlightened, democratic, constitutional path to access this self-determination is to admit their doubt in their constituents’ ability to understand, trust in, and make decisions in the best interest of the goodness in ourselves and in the ecosystems around us. CACR19 will secure our right to protect this goodness for a new future honoring people’s and nature’s natural right to sustainability.
CACR 19 supporter Rep. Bruce Tatro (D) believes in this constitutional path to self-determination: “CACR 19 is an amendment to a constitution that was formed by the people of the state. The people should have the opportunity to vote this amendment up or down. I’m not in favor of short-circuiting that.”
As NH Community Rights Network (NHCRN) board members, we support CACR 19′s effort to amend our NH Bill of Rights to recognize the individual and collective right of local self-governance in order to secure and protect the inherent and unalienable rights of all NH inhabitants to economic, social, and environmental justice.
This week, we hope New Hampshire representatives vote in support of CACR 19 by voting NO on the current inexpedient-to-legislate (ITL) recommendation for CACR 19. Overturning ITL on CACR 19 would give the House the chance to vote that CACR19 ought-to-pass (OTP), sending it on to the Senate, and hopefully to New Hampshire citizens.
Learn how you can support protecting people, places, and principle over profit by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting www.nhcommunityrights.org.
— Douglas Darrell is from Center Barnstead and Monica Christofili lives in Newmarket.
On Feb. 27, the N.H. House's Municipal and County Government Committee met to determine what to do with proposed Constitutional Amendment Concurrent Resolution 19 (CACR19), "related to the right to govern, PROVIDING THAT: the people of the state may enact local laws that protect health, safety and welfare."
CACR19 had already been discussed at prior subcommittee work sessions. A resulting 3-2 vote prompted a recommendation to the full committee that CACR19 "ought to pass," bringing it one step closer to allowing the public to vote on the proposed amendment. Unfortunately, the panel voted 11-8 to recommend deeming CACR19 "inexpedient to legislate."
In a growing chaotic atmosphere, various members of the committee in bold opposition to CACR19 stressed claims of: loss of individual rights; the fear of competing regulations across the state; and that the N.H. Constitution gives power to representatives, not the public. Some reps vehemently insisted that supporting the recommended ought-to-pass tag would lead to chaos and total anarchy.
On the contrary, the proposed amendment is clear: "Local laws adopted pursuant to this article shall not weaken existing protections, or constrict the fundamental rights of, natural persons, or their local communities, or nature, as those protections are secured by local, state, federal or international law."
Thanks to Swanzey Rep. Bruce Tatro and Keene's David Meader for their support. Tatro and Meader, along with Reps. Vincent Migliore and Steven Rand (both cosponsors of CACR19), were among the eight lawmakers favoring encouraging the people to "educate themselves" and "let the people decide" what they want. The latter was enough to convince Rep. Susan Treleaven to change her vote to support "ought to pass."
The N.H. Constitution, Article 8, notes: "All power residing originally in, and being derived from the people ..." confirming final decisions should be made by the voters. Let us get started exercising that right in our own communities. Rep. Rand reminded everyone, "Each legislator took an oath. The people are the authority; we are their representatives."
Follow CACR19's progress at: www.nhcommunityrights.org, then contact your representative and share your opinion.
I am concerned by the underhanded treatment NH Community Rights Amendment, CACR19, received during its Feb. 27 House Municipal & County Government executive session.
At CACR19’s original hearing on Feb. 6 , I testified as a mother and Alliance for Newmarket Citizen & Ecosystem Rights member determined to say an effectively resounding NO to projects that would contaminate the water my son drinks.
CACR19 was proposed to recognize and protect in our NH Bill of Rights the authority of N.H. communities to enact local laws by majority vote in order to protect themselves (and the air, water, and soil on which they depend) from harmful corporate projects — as long as local laws wouldn’t limit existing state and constitutional rights of natural persons.
CACR19’s nine bi-partisan sponsors — including two Republican NRA members — believe CACR19 is needed because N.H. citizens currently have neither binding voice nor equal standing against harmful corporate interests that consistently and unfairly appeal to state preemption to take away any real recourse citizens have to prevent their communities from becoming sacrifice zones to profit marketed as “greater good” for the larger state.
After its initial hearing, I watched CACR19 move through Feb. 13 and 14 subcommittee work sessions resulting in a 3-2 bi-partisan vote recommending that it ought to pass. The next step was CACR19’s executive session where protocol would have the full House Municipal & Government committee chair open by calling the subcommittee chair to report to the full committee the outcome and reasoning behind this ought-to-pass recommendation.
Not only was this protocol not followed at CACR19’s Feb. 27 executive session, but the senior Republican chair of the full committee ignored the first hand that went up. It belonged to a CACR19-supporting Republican subcommittee member seeking to motion that CACR19 ought to pass as recommended.
The full committee chair looked at him, looked away, and instead called on the subcommittee chair — a fellow senior Republican voting against CACR19 who not only neglected reporting the ought-to-pass subcommittee recommendation vote but also immediately motioned that CACR19 be inexpedient to legislate.
This subcommittee chair should have reported on and motioned that CACR19 ought to pass so that it could be seconded and voted on by the full committee. If it did not garner majority support as such, then it could have been motioned inexpedient to legislate, seconded, and voted on accordingly.
Point of order was called to have the inappropriate inexpedient to legislate motion withdrawn, but to no effect. This prompted additional protest from six bi-partisan committee members — one of whom is registering formal objection, all of which decreased their time to actually discuss CACR19.
Meanwhile, representatives opposing CACR19 ignored the amendment’s language, which clearly states local laws protected under the amendment would go through town majority vote procedures and would not limit but expand citizen rights. They hyperbolically characterized the amendment as a harbinger of anarchy and chaos.
The only approach to anarchy I see associated with CACR19 is that of senior committee members believing their opinions supersede the process deserved by each piece of legislation that comes before them.
Ultimately, the vote tallied 11-8 in favor of recommending to the full N.H. House that CACR19 be inexpedient to legislate (one absent representative supporting CACR19 would have made it 11-9).
Before the vote, committee member Rep. Rand (D), one of CACR19’s co-sponsors, asked fellow committee members, “Who are we to make a decision for the people? If we do not allow voters the chance to establish their will, we are not honoring the principles of our constitution, which provides that the people’s authority can supersede the state when seeking to reform government.”
Sometime next month, CACR19 heads to the N.H. House floor and anticipated heated debate to overturn the committee recommendation of inexpedient to legislate.
I urge N.H. voters to visit www.nhcommunityrights.org to learn more about CACR19 and to call their representatives to ask them to support the amendment.
The NRA's New Hampshire chapter--the Gun Owners of NH--has attacked the NH Community Rights Amendment with an anti-CACR19 action alert on its website and a letter to the Municipal & County Government committee.
Home Rule No Go
GONH's Attack on CACR19
Gun Lobbyists Target Right to Protect
NHCRN's Response to NRA Fear Mongering
GONH's main claim is that CACR19 would authorize local laws that restrict individual constitutional rights, including the right to bear arms. This claim is erroneous for 3 reasons:
1) IT IGNORES CACR19'S BASIS
The right of local community self-government includes the right to a system of government within local communities that, one, is controlled by community majority and that, two, secures and protects the civil and political rights of every person in the community. It also includes, three, the right to alter or abolish the system of local government if it infringes on the prior two components. TAKE AWAY: Any majority-voted community self-government law would be limited by people's civil and political rights, i.e. laws adopted under CACR19 could not infringe upon the right to bear arms and could only expand, not lessen, people's rights secured by local, state, and federal constitutions.
2) IT IGNORES CACR19'S LANGUAGE
Republican NRA members and sponsors of CACR19 have consistently directed naysayers to study CACR19's language: "Local laws adopted pursuant to this article shall not weaken existing protections for, or constrict the fundamental rights of, natural persons, or their local communities, or nature, as those protections and rights are secured by local, state, federal, or international law." TAKE AWAY: CACR19 would PROTECT rights for natural persons--including Second Amendment rights--already recognized in state and federal constitutions.
3) IT IGNORES PRECEDENT
In 2008 and 2010 cases, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that Second Amendment rights are individual constitutional rights and consequentlyoverturned local firearm restrictions as violations of these rights. TAKE AWAY: U.S. Supreme Court precedent holds that CACR19 would not protect local laws attempting to restrict Second Amendment rights.
Dear Community Rights Supporters,
There was a strong grassroots turn-out yesterday from communities all across the state of New Hampshire that attended the House Municipal & County Government (M&CG) Committee executive session on the NH Community Rights Amendment, CACR19.
Representative Migliore, CACR19's committee Republican co-sponsor, attempted to make a motion of ought-to-pass (OTP) on the Amendment as soon as the executive session was opened by the committee chair, Representative Belanger. Rep. Migliore raised his hand immediately and spoke up, only to have the chair overlook him and call upon the vice chair, Rep. Sterling, to make a motion of inexpedient-to-legislate (ITL), i.e. kill the bill.
Sadly, this happens all the time - when leadership intentionally overlooks the committee member they know will make a motion leadership does not agree with and calls upon another committee member they know will make the motion that leadership wants made. Ethical, no. Political, yes!
What was unexpected is that the committee chair did not follow protocol by hearing the subcommittee report FIRST so that the full committee could hear the vetting and recommendation of the subcommittee after two work sessions.
The M&CG subcommittee recommendation on CACR19
was declared OTP (3-2) on February 14th
after two work sessions were held.
We learned that it is customary for the subcommittee recommendation to determine the motion made in the full committee. It was quite clear that committee chair, Rep. Belanger wanted nothing to do with procedure if it didn't serve the will of leadership.
CACR19's Democrat committee co-sponsor, Rep. Rand, called point-of-order on what appeared to be an intentional disregard for the protocol of hearing the subcommittee report first and the chair responded, "duly noted" and moved on!
Other committee members continued to call the chair out on disregarding protocol with committee member, Rep. Treleaven, flatly asking, "Are we going to hear the subcommittee report at all?" The response from the committee chair, Rep. Belanger was an indignant, "NO!"
Committee debate involved representatives opposing CACR19 ignoring the amendment’s language clearly stating local laws protected under the amendment would go through town majority vote procedures and would not limit but expand individual rights; they made exaggerated statements accusing the amendment as paving the way for anarchy and chaos.
Ironically, the only anarchy and chaos associated with CACR19 has been that of senior House Municipal & County Government committee members cancelling and rescheduling the executive session multiple times and complete disregard for protocol and the orderly process deserved by each piece of legislation that comes before them.
The ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Carson, made a public statement that he would file an objection to the chair's action of disregarding the protocol of sharing the subcommittee report of OTP with the full committee. Although it is greatly appreciated that supporting committee members of CACR19 were willing to hold their committee chair accountable on record, it did nothing to change the outcome of today's session and only offers little hope that the committee chair will act in a non-biased manner in the future by following procedure even when he may not agree with the outcome.
Lots of other nuances went on, but the bottom line is the Municipal & County Government Committee made a recommendation of ITL (11 - 8) on CACR19.
One of the committee members that supported CACR19 was not there to vote due to an emergency medical issue that prevented her attendance. We hope for her speedy and full recovery.
We find out this Thursday when the House Calendar is published if CACR19 will go to the House Floor next week, or the third week of March.
Stay tuned and be ready to take action because this is not the end of CACR19. It will be heading to the House Floor for what is expected to be a lively debate over who our Legislature believes should have the final say on a state constitutional amendment - the people who are the origin of government, or state electeds that can be beholden to corporate interests and party politics?
Regardless of how the M&CG Committee leadership treated theNH Community Rights Amendment,
we have no intention of giving up!
For now, I encourage EVERYONE that prepared a written testimony for CACR19 to submit your testimony (minus the greeting to the committee any personal info you do not want published) as an "open letter" to any and all media outlets in an effort to raise awareness of our Right of Local Community Self-Government. It is important that we take advantage of the momentum and attention that is currently focused on Community Rights in New Hampshire. Also, feel free to submit your letters and testimonies to the full House of Representatives so they can hear from YOU, and not just party leadership, how they should vote on CACR19 when it is heard on the House floor.
We don't lose until we quit. Onward!
Michelle Sanborn, NHCRN President
To The Daily Sun,
Friends and neighbors have asked me why I am voting yes to Article 29, the Community Rights-Based Ordinance in Ashland. The reasons are many, but the simplest is that I’m tired.
I’m a resident, a taxpayer, and a mother raising children here and I’m just plain tired. I’m tired of watching large corporations use their size, power, and money to overrun local interests and destroy our environment. I’m tired of being told by state (and perhaps more sadly local leaders), that projects like Northern Pass are inevitable, beyond our control, and that we just need to suck it up and prepare for it. I’m tired of the “let’s make the most of it” argument or the argument for “let’s try to just mitigate the inevitable.” I’m tired of being told we have no say, no power, all while watching corporations claim massive rights and future lost profits and dodge responsibility for harm after harm.
Perhaps Northern Pass is falling victim to my fatigue, perhaps my lens isn’t 100 percent open to their claims of inevitable benefits of their project and articulated efforts to mitigate harm... but if this is the case, I’m not sorry. They are the straw that is breaking the camel's back for me and many in my generation. We’re done.
No, you cannot expect us to rejoice that you’re offering us free testing of our watershed and lagoons so that IF you cause harm we can prove it and attempt to receive a settlement. No. Just stay away from our watershed. Don’t dig there, don’t test there, don’t put towers there, just leave one of our most precious facilities and resources alone for us to manage as a community.
With respect to my fellow community members that argue that a community rights-based ordinance goes too far, I say, no, its corporate rights that have extended too far and it’s time for us to begin the process of curtailing them. With respect to my fellow community members who argue a community rights-based ordinance is risky or invites a lawsuit, I say, I’m tired of being bullied and feared in to compromise or flat-out forced in to decisions from forces beyond our control. I remind them that having a rights-based ordinance in place WHEN Northern Pass adjusts its proposal and requests reconsideration is a potentially valuable tool, one that we together can choose to enforce or not. We can assess if the danger of trying to implement it feels riskier or costlier than the risk of allowing towers across our land.
I see it as akin to going in to battle armed. We don’t leave the tanks at the base in hopes we don’t get shelled.
With respect to my fellow community members who argue a community rights-based ordinance makes them fearful of how individuals in the community would make use of the ordinance, I encourage them to read it in its entirety and recall that it does not take away any existing rights. Further, I assert that I’d much rather work together as a small community to address and protect each other’s interests and assure individual fears are alleviated than to be the victim of external forces dictating what happens in our community.
With respect to my fellow community members who argue we should wait to see if the Community Rights Amendment (CACR19) passes and lends legal credibility to such ordinances first, I invite them to share with me when in our history they’ve experienced the law leading the change?
As disenfranchised and powerless as we feel, we must always remember that the laws are our creation, and that every amendment to every law has begun with a person, a people, a community asserting that the law as it stands should be challenged. We assert our sincere will and the legislators and law follow that will. So, I will be voting YES to Article 29, and I hope to find among my neighbors others who are tired and ready to claim what has always been ours.
K. Hridaya Sivalingam, PhD
CACR19's Executive Session Is Now
Tuesday, Feb. 27th, 9:00 AM
Rm 301 Legislative Offices Building:
33 N. State, Concord, NH, 03301
At this session, the House Municipal & County Government committee will vote on how to recommend CACR19 to the full NH House.
PLEASE ATTEND to show the M&CG committee that We the People of the Granite State care very much about amending our state constitution to
Protect People, Principles, and
Places above Profit.
SO WHAT DO WE DO NOW?
The Community Rights Movement to the New Hampshire House: Let the People Decide What’s Best
CACR19's Tuesday, Feb. 27th
executive session at 9:00 AM
CACR19 needs majority support in the full 20-member
House Municipal & County Government committee.
This means at least 11 members have to believe it is time to elevate people and nature above corporation and profit!
PLEASE CONTINUE TO CALL
HOUSE M&CG COMMITTEE MEMBERS
URGE THEM TO RECOMMEND THAT CACR19 OUGHT-TO-PASS
NOTICE COMMITTEE MEMBERS WHO ARE STILL UNCERTAIN!!!
Jane Beaulieu: Manchester, Hillsborough 45 (603) 626-1260
James Belanger: Hollis, Hillsborough 27 (603) 465-2301
John Bordenet: Keene, Cheshire 05 (603) 352-0680
Clyde Carson: Warner, Merrimack 07 (603) 456-2562 Supports
Francis Chase: Seabrook, Rockingham 20 (603) 944-0830 Uncertain
Debra DeSimone: Atkinson, Rockingham 14 (603) 362-4314 Uncertain
Francis Gauthier: Claremont, Sullivan 03 (603) 543-7382 Opposes
Julie Gilman: Exeter, Rockingham 18 (603) 580-1393 Supports
Timothy Josephson: Canaan, Grafton 11 (603) 523-2023
Carolyn Matthews: Raymond, Rockingham 03 (603) 244-2027
Frank McCarthy: Conway, Carroll 02 (603) 356-9160
Mark McLean: Manchester, Hillsborough 44 (603) 668-0076 Opposes
David Meader: Keene, Cheshire 06 (603) 357-1340
Vincent Migliore: Bridgewater, Grafton 09 (603) 744-5800 Supports
Steven Rand: Plymouth, Grafton (603) 236-6587
Franklin Sterling: Jaffrey, Cheshire 14 (603) 532-8284
Brian Stone: Northwood, Rockingham 01 (603) 724-1404 Opposes
Bruce Tatro: Swanzey, Cheshire 15 (603) 352-3904
Susan Treleaven: Dover, Strafford 17(603) 749-2347 Supports
Tripp Richard: Derry, Rockingham 06 (603) 434-4674
Sample message: "Hello, my name is _________, and I am reaching out to you in support of CACR19 from the town of _________. I want to know that local majority voices matter, and CACR19 provides this assurance without limiting already established rights. I support the people of New Hampshire having the recognized, secured, and protected authority to protect the well-being of their municipalities and of the natural environments on which they depend. I urge you to vote ought-to-pass on CACR19.
Remember to leave your name & number!
IF A REPRESENTATIVE ASKS A QUESTION AND YOU'RE NOT SURE ABOUT AN ANSWER, PLEASE ASK IF YOU CAN GET BACK TO THEM ON IT -- THEN EMAIL THE QUESTION TO NHCRN FOR A RESPONSE THAT YOU CAN THEN SHARE WITH THE COMMITTEE MEMBER.
FAQ on CACR19
WHAT CACR19 WOULD ACTUALLY DO
If passed with 3/5 majority in the NH House & Senate, and if passed by 2/3 majority vote by the people, CACR19 would become Article 40 of our NH Bill of Rights.
It would codify that the individual citizens of NH have the recognized constitutional right to pass local laws in their town, municipality, city and county to protect both their human communities and the natural ecosystems on which their survival depends, including in the face of corporate harm--so long as locally-made laws would not infringe on real persons' existing rights under state and federal law.
Because rights are not gifted by any constitution but recognized and enumerated within them, CACR19 is purposefully not a proposed law but a proposed constitutional amendment seeking to specifically enumerate the individual right to local self-government within NH’s State Constitution in the same way freed slaves' equal rights were recognized within the U.S. Constitution.
Finally, because laws enacted under this amendment would include protection of natural ecosystems (think air, water, soil) on which NH citizens depend, CACR19 mentions Rights of Nature. Precedent for Rights of Nature is growing in the U.S. and around the world as evidenced by scholarship, changing law, legal cases, and the International Center for the Rights of Nature.
The NCRN hosted a webinar on February 1, 2018:
To those who were able to join us and to those who have requested a recording of the webinar. We believe that this webinar is an excellent way to introduce new people and groups to the Community and Nature Rights Movement. It is also a catalyst for long-time activists to escape the "Hamster Wheel" that dictates our engagement and influence on political and fundamental change in our community...
Click Here to Read Entire Article and View Webinar
One Year Anniversary of our
"Rights of Nature" Solidarity Call
A year ago, February 2017, we hosted a Solidarity call with Mari Margil on the Rights of Nature. We hope you will take the time to listen to this 26 minute video to learn more about why our laws do not protect our environment and actually legalize the harms that our communities are exposed to by the corporate/government state.
Click Here for Solidarity Call Recording
Thank You for your activism.
Together we can create a movement worthy of nature,
our children and future generations!
To the Editor:
On Feb. 6 the N.H. Community Rights Amendment, CACR 19, inspired so many supportive citizen testimonies that its House Municipal & County Government committee hearing ran 90 minutes rather than the scheduled 30. The following week, CACR 19 left its subcommittee with a 3-2 bi-partisan vote recommending it ought-to-pass.
The next step is CACR 19′s executive session on Tuesday, Feb. 27, at 9 a.m. in room 301 of Concord’s Legislative Offices Building. The complete House Municipal & County Government committee will vote how to recommend CACR19 to the full NH House. If recommended ought-to-pass and approved in both NH House and Senate by three-fifths majority, then a two-third vote by the NH people would establish CACR19 as Article 40 of New Hampshire’s Bill of Rights.
Supported by nine bipartisan co-sponsors, CACR19 seeks to codify the recognized constitutional right of NH citizens to pass local laws by majority vote to protect their human communities and the natural ecosystems (e.g. air, water, soil) on which they depend — so long as any locally-made laws do not infringe on real persons’ existing rights under state and federal constitutions and laws.
CACR 19 would give New Hampshire citizens real voices against harmful corporate interests that routinely and successfully lobby legislatures and petition courts to apply state preemption to nullify local ordinances and any say NH people have over where they live and what projects come into their communities.
Plymouth’s Rep. Steven Rand (D) outlines the solution CACR19 would offer legislators and constituents: “We represent constituents to create statutes, but the people represent themselves constitutionally. The constitution is higher than statutes. Giving them the chance to vote on CACR19 is the one thing we can do to support their ability to protect their health, safety, and welfare. It will help them expand, not decrease their rights.”
Rep. Vincent Migliore (R) of Bridgewater, a self-identified conservative, believes that “In lieu of revolution, CACR19 offers a peaceful way for people to self-govern when the need arises.” To those worried over CACR19′s scope, the NRA member quotes the amendment itself: “Local laws adopted pursuant to this article shall not weaken existing protections for, or constrict the fundamental rights of, natural persons, or their local communities, or nature, as those protections and rights are secured by local, state, federal, or international law.”
Jaffrey’s Rep. Franklin Sterling (R) shockingly retorts that “New Hampshire is not a democracy, it is a republic. This amendment changes our form of government to democracy and we are not a democracy.”
In response, Swanzey’s Rep. Bruce Tatro (D) asserts that New Hampshire indeed is a democracy: “CACR 19 is an amendment to a constitution that was formed by the people of the state. The people should have the opportunity to vote this amendment up or down. I’m not in favor of short-circuiting that.”
For more information on CACR19 and the community rights movement in New Hampshire, please visit www.nhcommunityrights.org/.
Adam Tardif, Newmarket
The NH NRA Chapter Targets Right to Protect
The NH Chapter of the NRA, Gun Owners of NH (GONH) opposition to CACR19 targets our individual right to protect our children, our property, and the natural resources upon which our lives depend. The GONH has resorted to intentional misrepresentation and fear-mongering tactics to dissuade this intelligent body of legislators to turn on its people and natural environments and protect corporate special interests over the well-being of Granite-Staters.
CACR19 – The NH Community Rights Amendment – would secure the right of local community self-government to be exercised only to expand, not to lessen, the rights of people as secured by state and federal constitutions.
Republican Representatives who are NRA members and sponsors of the NH Community Rights Amendment have consistently directed amendment naysayers to study CACR19's language: "Local laws adopted pursuant to this article shall not weaken existing protections for, or constrict the fundamental rights of, natural persons, or their local communities, or nature, as those protections and rights are secured by local, state, federal, or international law."
The right of local community self-government is a fundamental, individual political right – exercised collectively – of people to govern the local communities in which they reside.
The current list of “protections” individuals can exercise at the local level for themselves, their communities, and environments are few. Yet, corporations enjoy a long list of state-permissible legalized harms they can carry out against us: corporate water extraction; mining activities; industrial contamination of waterways, air, and land; large-scale storage and applications of toxic chemicals; superfund sites; harmful and unnecessary commercial energy projects; and so many more. Not only do corporations enjoy our individual personhood rights, they also use Dillon’s Rule and preemption to infringe upon our individual rights as enumerated by our constitutions.
The people living in these affected communities are the ones who most understand what is at stake for the supposed “greater good” of the rest of the state. What negatively affects any one community will have a negative impact on neighboring communities. Cumulatively, the negative impact then becomes no longer for the “greater good” of the State, but for the good of the corporate entities exploiting New Hampshire communities for profit.
Don’t give in to fear-mongering. Let the people decide if they want to protect their health, safety, and welfare by enumerating within the NH Bill of Rights the right of local community self-government. Government of right originates from the people which is why CACR19 should be put to the voters of New Hampshire.
President - NH Community Rights Network (NHCRN)
CACR19 IS STILL IN THE RUNNING!
CACR19's Feb. 13th & 14th House Municipal & County Government subcommittee work sessions inspired engaging debate and resulted in a 3 to 2 vote recommending to the full committee that CACR19 ought-to-pass (OTP).
The Community Rights Movement to the New Hampshire House: Let the People Decide What’s Best
CACR19 is scheduled for an executive session where the full House Municipal & County Government committee will vote on one of 3 recommendations to the full House: ought-to-pass (OTP), ought-to-pass-as-amended (OTP/A), or inexpedient-to-legislate (ITL).
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 23RD AT
1:00 PM, LOB #301
Share the event on Facebook event!
CACR19 needs majority support in the full 20 member committee -- at least 11 members have to believe it is time to elevate people and nature above corporation and profit.
YOUR PERSONAL CALLS ARE INTEGRAL FOR REACHING THE HEARTS & MINDS OF THE HOUSE MUNICIPAL & COUNTY GOVERNMENT COMMITTEE MEMBERS
PLEASE CONTINUE TO CALL
HOUSE MUNICIPAL & COUNTY GOVERNMENT COMMITTEE MEMBERS
URGE THEM TO RECOMMEND THAT CACR19 OTP
COMMITTEE CONTACTS AND TO-DATE CACR19 POSITIONS:
Jane Beaulieu: Hillsborough 45 (603) 626-1260 - Uncertain
James Belanger: Hillsborough 27 (603) 465-2301 - Opposes
John Bordenet: Cheshire 05 (603) 352-0680 - Uncertain
Clyde Carson: Merrimack 07 (603) 456-2562 - Supportive
Francis Chase: Rockingham 20 (603) 944-0830 - Uncertain
Debra DeSimone: Rockingham 14 (603) 362-4314 - Uncertain
Francis Gauthier: Sullivan 03 (603) 543-7382 - Opposes
Julie Gilman: Rockingham 18 (603) 580-1393 - Uncertain
Timothy Josephson: Grafton 11 (603) 523-2023 - Supportive
Carolyn Matthews: Rockingham 03 (603) 244-2027 - Opposes
Frank McCarthy: Carroll 02 (603) 356-9160 - Opposes
Mark McLean: Hillsborough 44 (603) 668-0076 - Opposes
David Meader: Cheshire 06 (603) 357-1340 - Uncertain
Vincent Migliore: Grafton 09 (603) 744-5800 - Supports
Steven Rand: Grafton 08 (603) 236-6587 - Supports
Franklin Sterling: Cheshire 14 (603) 532-8284 - Opposes
Brian Stone: Rockingham 01 (603) 724-1404 - Opposes
Bruce Tatro: Cheshire 15 (603) 352-3904 - Supports
Susan Treleaven: Strafford 17 (603) 749-2347 - Uncertain
Tripp Richard: Rockingham 06 (603) 434-4674 - Uncertain
Sample message: "Hello, my name is _________, and I am reaching out to you from the town of _________. As a resident of New Hampshire, I am concerned about the lack of local decision-making authority Granite State citizens have to determine what happens in their home communities. I want to know that local majority voices matter, and CACR19 provides this assurance. I support the people of New Hampshire having the recognized, secured, and protected authority to look out for the well-being of their residents and of the natural environments on which they depend. I urge you to vote ought-to-pass on CACR19. Remember to leave your name & number!
IF A REPRESENTATIVE ASKS A QUESTION AND YOU'RE NOT SURE ABOUT AN ANSWER, PLEASE ASK IF YOU CAN GET BACK TO THEM ON IT -- THEN EMAIL THE QUESTION TO NHCRN FOR A RESPONSE THAT YOU CAN THEN SHARE WITH THE COMMITTEE MEMBER.
NHCRN Comments: The committee scheduled 30 mins for the hearing, not an hour-and-a-half, and the hearing went on for almost 2.5 hrs, not 3.5 hrs. Also, it was the AFP lobbyist that said the 400 NH-member House is sufficient and therefore local control is not needed, not the committee members.
By THOMAS P. CALDWELL, LACONIA DAILY SUN
CONCORD — Supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment to grant New Hampshire communities the right to determine what is in their best interests for health, safety, and welfare got an intense grilling from members of the House Municipal and County Government Committee on Tuesday.
The panel had scheduled an hour and a half for the hearing on Constitutional Amendment Concurrent Resolution 19 (CACR 19), but after moving to a larger room to accommodate all those who wanted to speak, the hearing went on for more than three and a half hours.
Proponents argued that current law leaves towns powerless to stop projects that could drain resources, hurt the environment, and introduce toxic chemicals into their food or water.
Opponents expressed concerns that giving towns the power to halt projects that could provide an overall benefit to the state would disrupt the economy and undermine the state legislature and regulatory agencies.
Late in the day, as committee chairman James Belanger urged people to be concise with their comments, Stuart Leiderman of Center Barnstead asked for three minutes of oral testimony to accompany his written comments. His impassioned arguments in support of the bill had Belanger finally stop him: “I understand the idea behind the bill, and don’t want to be disrespectful, but he asked for three minutes and he spoke for 13 minutes.”
Leiderman was attempting to settle several questions that arose during earlier testimony. Rep. Francis Gauthier of Claremont repeatedly asked the various speakers how the current system of regulatory laws has failed to provide protection to communities. He cited his own activism in fighting an incinerator project in Claremont that the state Department of Environmental Services had “sanctified” and he said they finally won by taking it to the state Supreme Court.
“That shouldn’t be necessary,” Leiderman said. “This amendment would bring a consensus, not drive it to the court for a resolution.”
Leiderman said the state constitution has been amended 213 times, which he termed “extraordinary.”
“It’s not the monolithic document that a lot of people think it is,” he said. “Citizens look to the constitution for freedoms. It’s a composite to meet the overruling forces, and this amendment should be looked at in that light.”
He said that, instead of looking at government as an entity that operates by opinion — “that I’m right and you’re wrong” — in order to survive, the government must respond to “the kinds of things New Hampshire cities and towns chronically face — contamination, for instance.”
The state and federal government, Leiderman said, often rely on “natural attenuation” to deal with landfill sites, contamination at Air Force bases, and Superfund toxic sites. “Do nothing and let nature take care of it,” he said.
“Those approaches are diminishing the chances for New Hampshire in the future,” he said. “This amendment goes to the beginning of the constitution. It provides checks and balances between governments. … We’re not talking about insurrection.”
CACR 19 is based on the constitutional principle that “All government of right originates from the people, is founded in their consent, and instituted for the general good,” according to the language of the resolution.
Committee members pointed out that New Hampshire is not a home rule state where municipalities can make their own laws; instead, the 400-member House of Representatives ensures that people have an adequate voice at the state level.
Rep. Richard Tripp of Derry suggested that legislative authority would be undermined by allowing towns to make their own rules through rights-based ordinances, and then it would be the courts that end up with the ultimate authority.
Members of the committee kept asking the speakers how they would define “welfare” as outlined in the bill. They suggested it was too broad a term and is subject to individual interpretation.
Henry Ahern of Plymouth agreed. He said he opposed the bill not because of what it seeks to do but because of possible unintended consequences.
“Terms like ‘welfare’ and ‘health’ and ‘public safety’ change in meaning over time,” he said.
“I own a deer farm,” Ahern said. “I work land in two towns. If this passes, one town can say I can’t plant certain seeds in that town. The same goes for the spreading of biosolids. Instead of facts, there can be an emotional reason for making these decisions.”
Greg Moore, state director of Americans for Prosperity, argued that home rule would mean the state doesn’t need a 400-member House, and it would take power away from the legislature.
“I have a lot of faith in the General Court,” Moore said, noting that he once served in the legislature. “When you look at a constitutional amendment, it not what it’s intended to do, but what it can do.”
He said the amendment would allow individual towns to enact a sales tax. It also would open up the possibility of corruption, he said, arguing that it is difficult to bribe 201 legislators in order to have a majority on one’s side, but getting a majority on a three-person board of selectmen would mean bribing just two people.
Michelle Sanborn of Alexandria, the president and coordinator of the New Hampshire Community Rights Network who also represents the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, testified that the amendment represents only limited home rule and would not override state and federal law.
“This is a people’s amendment,” she said. “It brings clarity to the people, the courts, and businesses. It gives people the right to protect themselves.”
Several speakers spoke of out-of-state businesses that know how to navigate the state’s regulatory laws to get what they want, and towns are powerless to stop them. Rights-based ordinances, they said, would take the process out of the regulatory arena and make it a constitutional matter.
Several speakers asked the committee for support so the amendment could go to the voters for a decision.
Before that can happen, both the House and Senate would need to agree to support the amendment. A House subcommittee will be reviewing the resolution on Feb. 13 and 14, at which time it will make a recommendation on its future.
BY JOHN COLLINSWhen you combine an economic system that requires constant growth in order to function, with a legal system that mistakes corporations for “people”—you inevitably wind up with a few extremely powerful corporations and a lot of powerless citizens. Furthermore, when that same system regards nature as property, thus allowing those in control to do whatever they see fit with a given area’s natural resources, long-term ecological health takes a backseat to short-term profits. For decades, communities across the country have been learning this lesson the hard way.
In recent years, for example, energy development projects in New Hampshire have sparked resident concerns over contamination of local water supplies. In addition, according to the EPA’s latest Toxics Release Inventory Program data, the small state is home to 127 of the 21,600 toxic sites monitored by the agency. Maintaining that a weakening of citizen’s rights at home has left their communities defenseless against ever-worsening corporate abuses, a group of Granite Staters are challenging the legal system that in effect grants corporations a license to pollute by denying local governments the right to control what occurs within their jurisdictions.
When citizens determine that the actions of a corporation pose an economic, environmental or public health threat to their community—whether it’s a new pipeline, a factory farm, a facility generating industrial waste, a mining operation etc.—and they try to stop that entity from setting up shop in their community, they’re often surprised to learn that (despite what the Declaration of Independence says about “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”) they are powerless to do anything about it.
This is by design. Over time, one state legislature after another has passed preemption laws—legal doctrines restricting a city, town, or county’s legal authority to regulate its economy or protect its environment—that prioritize corporate interests over those of local communities. In other words, corporations usually get what they want because the law, as it is written, is on their side, not yours.
Instead of fighting each and every corporate assault—on people or on nature—on a case-by-case basis, the community rights movement, a grassroots network of people who’ve had-it-up-to-here with corporate power, is working on the local, state and federal levels to address the problem at its source. The National Community Rights Network (NCRN) and its affiliates in states across the country are attempting to end government-sanctioned corporate exploitation by amending state and federal constitutions in order to “codify a community’s inalienable right to self-governance.”
This can be difficult. In many cases, before a proposed constitutional amendment can even get on a state’s ballot, supporters must first convince state legislators to allow it. On Tuesday, February 6, members of the New Hampshire Community Rights Network (NHCRN) met with the state’s House Municipal and County Government Committee in Concord in an attempt to do just that.
NHCRN organizers and about 50 of their supporters, including Thomas Linzey, the executive director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (and a Rural America In These Times contributing writer), gathered to urge the committee to consider Constitutional Amendment Concurrent Resolution 19 (CACR19). This is NHCRN’s second attempt to give New Hampshire voters a chance to decide for themselves whether or not to add a community rights amendment to their state’s constitution—an amendment that would allow local municipalities to enact laws to protect their people and environment from corporate harm.
The full text of the bill can be found here, but reads in part:
Be it Resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring, that the Constitution of New Hampshire be amended as follows:
I. That the first part of the constitution be amended by inserting after article 39 the following new article:
[Art.] 40. [Right of Local Community Self-Government.] All government of right originates from the people, is founded in their consent, and instituted for the general good; the people have the right and the duty to reform governments when those governments manifestly endanger public liberty; and sustainable environmental and economic development can be achieved only when the people affected by governing decisions are the ones who make them; therefore, the people of New Hampshire have an inherent and inalienable right of local, community self-government in each county, municipality, city, and town to enact local laws that protect health, safety, and welfare by recognizing or establishing rights of natural persons, their local communities, and nature; and by securing those rights using prohibitions and other means deemed necessary by the community, including measures to establish, define, alter, or eliminate competing rights, powers, privileges, immunities, or duties of corporations and other business entities operating, or seeking to operate, in the community. Local laws adopted pursuant to this article shall not weaken existing protections for, or constrict the fundamental rights of, natural persons, or their local communities, or nature, as those protections and rights are secured by local, state, federal, or international law.
While about a dozen New Hampshire towns already have ordinances geared toward ensuring the health, safety and welfare of their residents, municipalities cannot technically enact any laws the state doesn’t allow them to. This is because, like all but 11 states in the country, New Hampshire follows the so-called Dillon’s Rule—a doctrine that since 1868 has been a “cornerstone of municipal law” and holds that local governments can only enact laws that are approved by their state Legislature.
Twenty-six states, as well as Washington, D.C., offer initiative and/or veto referendum rights for their citizens—the ability to petetion a new statute or constitutional amendment through the collection of a minimum number of registered voter signatures—New Hampshire is not one of them. (Infographic: ballotpedia.org)
Urging Granite State residents to get behind their amendment, NHCRN organizers wrote the following in a letter-to-the-editor of Seacoastonline, an online news agency based in Portsmouth:Such recognition has been a long time coming to strengthen and restore “We the People’s” right to self-determine the future of the communities we live in. This right has been all but suffocated by corrupt corporate privilege that has been woven into law and upheld by judicial precedents. Together with state preemption, this weakening of citizen rights at home has left us with no defense when corporate projects come to develop or to extract resources in our towns—much less when these projects contaminate where we work and live, often with toxic waste. We’ve seen this happen all across our state. We should be able to have a recognized right to local decision-making authority to determine whether or not we want these projects in our communities.
By empowering people with authority to use this self-determining voice, CACR19 would reinforce the viability of our civil rights by supporting our democratic right to cultivate communities founded in peace and civility in which no person or entity has free pass to violate the health, safety, or well-being of another person or of nature, and certainly not for profit. Each day that our government denies us full participation in determining this cultivation, we are discriminated against—blocked from accessing and engaging in our rightful democratic process to protect our basic and inalienable rights that are not limited to but which include our right to clean air, water, and healthy ecosystems.
These inalienable rights were the ideals that birthed this nation’s experiment in democracy. And what is democracy if it is not the civic employment of people’s inalienable right to have democratic authority over what happens in their communities? When we cannot protect ourselves through the self-government so integral to the principles of our Revolutionary ancestors, then we are not living in a democracy. We must not let this right to self-government go un-championed by a disengaged sense of civic duty, nor can we afford to lose it amidst the animosity found in our divided political aisles. Now is the time to unite both community and bi-partisanship solidarity and action to recognize our right to self-government.
What the Revolutionaries of this country fought for was not something they could buy. It was the right to pursue a self-determined life of honesty and goodness. For our legislators to deny us an enlightened path to access this self-determination is for them to admit doubt in their constituents’ ability to reason over and to trust in the goodness that is in ourselves and in the ecosystems around us. CACR19 will secure our right to protect this goodness for a new future honoring people’s and nature’s natural right to sustainability.
Before the bill can go anywhere, the House Municipal and County Government Committee must vote OTP (“Ought to Pass”), at which point the amendment could continue to the House and Senate. If approved, only then would it be placed on the ballot for voters to decide. CELDF’s Thomas Linzey tells Rural America In These Times the public turnout on February 6 was good despite the fact the flu was “running rampant up there.” “We have nine co-sponsors who are committed, so we’re in a better place than last year at least,” he says. The next subcommittee hearing is scheduled for February 13.
Below is an interview in which Tom Groover, vice-president of the National Community Rights Network’s (NCRN) board of directors, speaks with CELDF organizers Michelle Sanborn, Monica Christofill and NHCRN member, Douglas Darrell, about their effort and why they feel it is more important than ever that they succeed in putting the measure before New Hampshire voters.
For more information about the NHCRN or the proposed constitutional amendment, contact email@example.com or visit www.nhcommunityrights.org.
Advocates for more local control in New Hampshire are trying again to amend the state constitution, this time to let municipalities pass laws protecting people's health and the environment.
A dozen New Hampshire towns already have ordinances geared toward ensuring locals’ health, safety and welfare, sparked by big energy developments or water quality concerns.
But Granite State municipalities technically can’t enact any laws the state doesn’t allow them to. So supporters say those ordinances wouldn't hold up in court – which is why they need a constitutional amendment.
They tried to pass the so-called Community Rights Amendment two years ago, but failed amid concerns it would give municipalities too much power and undermine state government.
Like most states, New Hampshire follows what’s called Dillon’s Rule, where municipalities derive all their governing abilities from the state Legislature.
A minority of states has varying degrees of the opposite – home rule, where towns and cities can govern freely as long as they follow state and federal law.
Lobbyists for the Community Rights Amendment told the House local governance committee Tuesday the proposal only creates a narrow degree of home rule in New Hampshire. They were joined by dozens of residents and families who support the bill.
Rep. Wayne Burton, a Democrat and co-sponsor, says the amendment would give citizens recourse for when they don't feel the state has their best interests at heart – such as when it permits an unwelcome local land use.
"When the character of the town is severely threatened, the people in local level ought to have an ability to pass a law or regulation under this,” Burton says. “That's what this is for."
The amendment is scheduled for several work sessions before it can go to the House floor. (Read the full text of the bill here.)
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that about 10 states follow Dillon's Rule. In fact, about 40 do.