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