Break away from the USA? New Hampshire once again says nay

Feb 1, 2024, 3:21 PM

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire voters won’t be asked to add a secession clause triggered by the national debt to the state constitution, nor will lawmakers study the broader issue of breaking away from the United States.

Without debate, the House on Thursday rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would require the state to proceed as a sovereign nation if the national debt reaches $40 trillion. Also killed was a bill that would have created a committee to study the “economic, legal and sociological aspects of New Hampshire exerting its sovereign state rights.”

A comparable proposal calling for the state to secede failed two years ago by a similarly overwhelming margin. Some of the sponsors of that amendment also had signed a manifesto declaring New Hampshire’s government “illegitimate,” calling Gov. Chris Sununu a tyrant and insisting that the 2020 elections were invalid due to fraud.

Changing the New Hampshire constitution requires the support of three-fifths of the Legislature to put the question to voters, who then must approve amendments by at least a two-thirds majority.

Similar secession efforts have failed in other states, including Mississippi and South Carolina. Rep. Jason Gerhard, sponsor of the latest New Hampshire amendment, tried to align himself with secessionists in Texas with a letter sent Wednesday to the head of the Texas Nationalist Movement. For years, some far-right activists have promoted the fringe idea that Texas could leave the U.S. and become independent, but those efforts have not gained traction.

“Together, both states can uphold the principle of freedom and autonomy,” wrote Gerhard, a Republican from Northfield who spent 12 years in prison for helping a New Hampshire couple escape capture on tax evasion charges. Ed and Elaine Brown remained holed up in an armed standoff at their home in Plainfield for months before being arrested in 2007.

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Break away from the USA? New Hampshire once again says nay