To the editor,
This October, the NH Community Rights Network (NHCRN) has sent a local choice survey to New Hampshire’s general election candidates running for governor, executive council, and for state representative or senator.
The survey asks candidates their positions on local choice, including whether or not they will support the NH Community Rights People’s Amendment.
NHCRN encourages New Hampshire voters to engage their candidates to complete the survey since those elected will have a deciding say on whether or not the people of New Hampshire will get the chance to vote on this proposed amendment, which in 2018’s legislative season earned support from one-third of New Hampshire’s House.
The New Hampshire Community Rights People’s Amendment seeks to codify in our New Hampshire 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, 3, 8, 10, and 32 of our New Hampshire 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 New Hampshire 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 ceiling preemption and permitting bodies to override the collective will of a community to adopt local laws that expand and protect rights of people and ecosystems. Importantly, the amendment could not be used to protect local laws that restrict or weaken existing local, state, or federal rights and protections for people and natural environments.
This amendment is an ongoing topic of NHCRN educational outreach to help secure and protect the inherent and unalienable rights of all New Hampshire inhabitants to economic, social, and environmental justice—including securing the rights of nature.