To the Editor:
In early August, the NH Community Rights Network sent surveys to 2018′s state primary candidates running for governor, Executive Council, and for state representative or senator.
The survey asked them for their positions on local choice, including whether or not they will support the people of New Hampshire’s call for the NH Community Rights Amendment, which in 2018′s legislative season earned support from one third of New Hampshire’s House.
Of the candidates who responded to the survey on local choice and the amendment, 71% said they would support the amendment, 29% that they would not.
The NH Community Rights Amendment seeks to codify in our NH Constitution’s Bill of Rights the community right to local decision-making authority regarding social and environmental issues that affect the health, safety, and well-being of individuals, communities, and ecosystems. While this right and authority is already affirmed in Articles 1, 2, 8, 10, and 32 of our NH State Constitution’s Bill of Rights, it is not yet specifically recognized.
Enumerating this right to local self-government in our Bill of Rights would address an underlying civil rights problem in two main ways. Firstly, it would recognize that local self-determination is an inherent and unalienable right. Secondly, it would nullify corporate use of state preemption and permitting bodies to override the collective will of a community to adopt local laws that protect people and ecosystems. Importantly, the amendment could not be used to protect local laws that restrict or weaken existing state and federal rights and protections for people.
This amendment will be introduced again this coming legislative season, and as a non-profit, grassroots organization, part of NHCRN’s work will be to educate the people of NH and their elected officials about our individual and collective right of local self-governance that this amendment would enumerate in our NH Bill of Rights.
The goal of this education is to help secure and protect the inherent and unalienable rights of all inhabitants of New Hampshire to economic, social, and environmental justice—including securing the rights of nature.
For both summarized and full-text survey responses from the candidates, or to learn more about the community rights movement in the Granite State, please visit NHCRN at www.nhcommunityrights.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monica Christofili, NHCRN Coordinator, Newmarket