A truly historic event took place on March 10, 2022. For the first time, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted on a constitutional amendment, CACR32, that would have allowed the citizens of New Hampshire to vote on whether “New Hampshire peaceably declares independence from the United States and immediately proceeds as a sovereign nation.” Representative Michael Sylvia (Belk. 6), a Republican state rep from Belmont, was the prime sponsor of CACR32.
Interview with CACR32 Prime Sponsor Michael Sylvia
In a February 2022 interview with representatives of the Free State Project, Rep. Sylvia revealed that he didn’t initially consider himself to be a secessionist. It was only as recently as the summer of 2021 that he began to consider secession as “legitimate”. As he put it, America’s social contract “…is totally broken, by those dear friends down there in D.C., in so many ways”. But several New Hampshire residents who needed a state representative to sponsor pro-secession legislation reached out to him. Then he realized that the matter of secession “is a question for the people, and that’s what a constitutional amendment in New Hampshire is.”
Sylvia accurately pointed out that many of his fellow state representatives were probably not going to like CACR32. “This is not a conversation we really want to have out there in the legislature. We like the way things are going. We get lots of money from D.C. They take plenty of money from the people of New Hampshire, cycle it through, and give us back some of it with strings. It would really change things. It would stop people and make them think, you know… what is a sovereign state? And what does that mean? Clearly, we are just a local district office for D.C., just like when the King was ruling over the colonies. They were not independent nations, as we declared ourselves in 1776. They don’t want to hear the answer to that, how many people are really, seriously thinking about it?”
Sylvia later points out that California has had a strong secessionist movement, on the left side of the political spectrum, for many years. New Hampshire’s secessionist movement, on the other hand, is just getting started. “There needs to be a lot of thought. The amendment that we put in is very bare bones. It’s very simple. It doesn’t spell out all the details that everybody wants the answers to the questions. So, in that way, it’s really, it’s a lot like the Constitution is built. It doesn’t lay out specifics in absolute long detail. That’s what statutes and laws are for. The Constitution is really just an overview, a guiding principle, and says ‘let’s go this way or that way’, this is how we’re going to run things.”
Sylvia’s final words in the hour-long interview were “Let’s put the question to the people.”
CACR32’s Path through the Legislature
In New Hampshire, at least three fifths of the state House needs to approve a constitutional amendment. It then needs approval by the state Senate. After that, the voters at large get to vote on it. At least 2/3 of voters would need to vote in favor for it to pass.
CACR32’s first stop was at a hearing of the State and Federal Relations and Federal Affairs committee. Supporters turned out in force, greatly outnumbering the dissenters. Twenty-five people spoke in support, not counting the primary sponsor. Only five spoke against it, three of whom were State Representatives. Despite the strong showing of support from members of the public, the committee voted unanimously Inexpedient to Legislate. (This means the committee’s recommendation to the rest of the House was that they reject the bill.) All three hours of testimony were recorded and can be viewed on video platform Odysee.
Following standard procedure, the bill then went to the full House for a roll call vote on March 10, 2022. Because the representatives were voting on the committee’s ITL recommendation, a vote of “yea” meant to kill the constitutional amendment. A vote of “nay” meant to reject the committee’s recommendation. The final vote was 323 yeas to 13 nays. Because the House voted to kill the amendment, the voters of New Hampshire were denied the opportunity to weigh in.
The full wording of CACR32 can be viewed on the New Hampshire General Court website.