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Worth Knowing: NH residents to vote on 2 constitutional amendments next week


Submitted 14 days ago

On November 6, New Hampshire voters will be asked to vote on more than candidates for local, state and federal offices. There will also be a pair of constitutional amendments on the ballot. One is aimed at restoring a historic right to sue and the other establishes a new right to privacy in the information age.

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The first proposed amendment would allow any taxpayer who is registered to vote to sue local or state governments alleging misuse of public funds. The House passed the first proposed amendment by a vote of 309-73. The Senate passed it 22-2. Supporters argue that government accountability has been lacking, and that taxpayers should be able to challenge governmental spending. Opponents argue that the change could burden courts with a flood of litigation. 

The second proposed amendment would add language to the constitution stating: "An individual's right to live free from governmental intrusion in private or personal information is natural, essential, and inherent." The House passed this proposed amendment 235-96. The Senate passed it 15-9. If the amendment is ratified, New Hampshire would become the 11th state with a specific right to privacy enshrined in its constitution. In support of the second proposed amendment, GOP Rep. Claire Rouillard, of Goffstown, said "our founding fathers did a great job hundreds of years ago in crafting the language of our constitution, but they could not have known about the technology we have today and the information and how it streams through our citizenry." On the contrary, Democratic Rep. Tim Horrigan, of Durham said the proposal "uses a weak and incomplete definition of privacy and it couples it with what seems like a random set of three admittedly beautiful adjectives: Natural, essential and inherent." 

Neither amendment will be adopted made unless two-thirds of voters approve them. 

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