Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Pass HB 648 on January 18!

Pass HB 648 on January 18!
Protect New Hampshire Property Rights!
Please join the outreach campaign to pass HB 648 (Bragdon/Forrester amendment) in the NH Senate on January 18, 2012. This bill is vital to ensure the full protection of New Hampshire property rights, close loopholes, and prevent the abuse of eminent domain. It is a statewide issue of the highest importance to all – home and land owners, tenants, business owners, in short, everyone.


Private transmission developers are eyeing New Hampshire for numerous new optional lines that have not been requested by our regional planners and are not needed to "keep the lights on." Under current outdated NH statutes, these for-profit projects could petition the state for the police power of eminent domain to seize land and homes. The "gold rush" is on!

Click here to see a map of some of these projects.

·     Call or email your state senator before January 18 and tell him or her to support HB 648 (Bragdon/Forrester amendment).

· Ask your friends and family throughout New Hampshire to tell their senators to pass 648 (Bragdon/Forrester amendment)!

Attend the NH Senate vote on 648 in Concord on January 18.
(Property rights advocates will be there wearing red, white & blue!)

Information on HB 648 and property rights in New Hampshire with a link to contact information for your senator by town is here:
Please send this link to friends & family throughout New Hampshire!
Those who would block HB 648 have been lobbying NH senators intensively. But those who would fully protect New Hampshire property rights will succeed if we ask others throughout New Hampshire to join our efforts between now and January 18. We have numbers and a just cause on our side. Passing 648 is the right thing to do, now!

Let's not skirt N.H. Constitution on the eminent domain issue

One of the most important votes the 24 of us in the State Senate will cast this session will occur on the Senate floor this January 18. This will be the Senate’s opportunity to defend the private property rights guaranteed in Article 12-a of the New Hampshire Constitution to every New Hampshire landowner.
Although we are on opposite sides as to whether the Northern Pass project as proposed, is good for New Hampshire, we are on the same side of the question concerning property rights. We plan to vote on January 18 to defend the constitutional rights of all New Hampshire property owners as provided for in Article 12-a.

Article 12-a was adopted as an amendment to the New Hampshire Constitution largely in reaction to the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Kelo v. New London, Connecticut case. The effect of the Kelo decision was to allow the City of New London to take the private home of Suzette Kelo by eminent domain for a private development that would be located on land owned by Kelo and on land owned by many of her neighbors. New Hampshire voters passed the constitutional amendment by the overwhelming margin of 85-15-percent in November 2006.

New Hampshire was one of more than 40 states to adopt similar amendments in reaction to the Kelo decision. The New Hampshire House voted overwhelmingly in 2006 to bring this amendment to the voters in the November election; the New Hampshire Senate voted 24-0 to place this amendment on the ballot. The New Hampshire amendment as adopted by voters is one sentence, and it says:
No part of a person's property shall be taken by eminent domain and transferred, directly or indirectly, to another person if the taking is for the purpose of private development or other private use of the property.

Last March the House voted 317-51 to pass House Bill 648, written to make clear that private developers of electric transmission lines were prevented from access to eminent domain as provided for in Article 12-a of the Constitution. When the bill came to the Senate last June, a majority (14-10) decided to study the bill further. The two of us were on opposite sides of this vote.

The Senate Judiciary Committee decided last month to recommend to the full Senate that it replace the language of the House passed version of HB 648 with new language, language offered by our colleagues Jeb Bradley and Sharon Carson. In our view, this substitute language is an artful dodge of the core issue at stake. It creates the impression that the Senate is providing some relief to property owners, but it really enables utility companies to use eminent domain in direct defiance of Article 12-a. If the Bradley-Carson amendment is allowed to stand, the Senate will abrogate the very oath each Senator took to defend the Constitution.

If the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, it is imperative that the New Hampshire Senate stand by the House on HB 648 and defend the liberties our Constitution was written to provide. No landowner in New Hampshire should be subjected to the explicit or implicit threat of eminent domain by a private developer or a private development project.

(Senator Tom DeBlois of Manchester is the Republican State Senator for District 18 and Senator Jeanie Forrester of Meredith is the Republican State Senator for District 2.)