There are two main reasons for this:
1) State and federal government agencies issue operating permits that legalize harmful corporate projects and activities that would otherwise be illegal; and
2) Corporations routinely use their “rights of personhood” to prevent communities from using local lawmaking to stop these projects and activities that are not in the best interest of the community.
Corporate activities such as the Northern Pass transmission line, fracked-gas pipelines and infrastructure, and large groundwater withdrawals are just a few examples of harmful projects that are decided without the involvement of local governing authority. State and federal agencies such as the N.H. Site Evaluation Committee and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission are appointed, not elected, for the sole purpose of issuing operating permits to industry, even if this means using pre-emption to override health-protecting, safety-protecting and rights-protecting local laws.
Pre-emption dictates that higher government trumps lower government. When pre-emption is used to force harmful activities upon local communities, residents are denied their unalienable right to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people and natural environments where they live.
The N.H. Community Rights Amendment would empower people and their local governments with the authority to enact local laws that are free from pre-emption and corporations’ claimed “rights” when these local laws protect the rights of people, communities and natural environments to defend their health, safety and welfare. This amendment would add Article 40, the Right of Local Community Self-Government, to the N.H. Constitution’s Bill of Rights.
The N.H. Community Rights Amendment has three key components:
Right to Local Self-Government: specifically recognizing the right of people in communities across the state to local community self-government
Rights of People, Communities, and Natural Environments: people, communities and natural environments have rights to health, safety and well-being, and the authority to prohibit business activities that violate those rights
Expanding and Protecting Fundamental Rights: people can use their local lawmaking power to enact local laws that protect and expand fundamental rights – any efforts to restrict or weaken fundamental rights under this Amendment are prohibited
Rep. Ellen Read, D-Newmarket, has agreed to sponsor CACR 19, the N.H. Community Rights Amendment, with bipartisan House support from cosponsors Suzanne Smith, Stephen Darrow, Wayne Burton, Jan Schmidt, Vincent Migliore, Steve Rand, Charlotte DiLorenzo and Raymond Howard.
The NH Community Rights Amendment is headed soon to a public House Municipal and County Government Committee hearing, where the committee’s legislators will recommend either that the amendment be moved one step closer to a vote by the people of New Hampshire or that we be denied our right to vote on the matter entirely.
Please contact the House Municipal and County Government Committee members to encourage them to protect the people and places of the Granite State from corporate overreach by recommending the amendment be moved to the November ballot for the people to decide.
The bottom line is this — if the N.H. House and Senate do not approve CACR 19, proposed by “we the people,” to expand and protect rights of people and their communities, then we will have been denied the legitimate democratic process of having even the opportunity to vote on a matter that directly affects and concerns our health, safety and welfare.
Please address any questions to N.H. Community Rights Network: www.nhcommunityrights.org
Michelle Sanborn of Alexandria is president of the N.H. Community Rights Network.