Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Colorado counties' secession plan on the ballot

Citizens in 11 rural Colorado counties will vote in November on whether or not to secede from the state. After state legislators passed a law that requires background checks for private gun sales, citizens in several rural counties began pushing the 51st State Initiative, Jack Healy reports from Cheyenne Wells for The New York Times.

The new state would be called New Colorado or North Colorado, and its people would uphold the farm towns and conservative ideals that people feel are disappearing, Healy reports, writing that they "bristle at gun control laws and marijuana shops, green energy policies and steps to embrace gay marriage and illegal immigrants."

Moffat County, which adjoins none of the others, "apparently wants to become Baja [Lower] Wyoming," reports Burt Hubbard of Rocky Mountain PBS. He notes that North Colorado would have only 336,000 people, "supplanting Wyoming as the least populous state." He also reports, "Colorado spends between about $60 million and $120 million or more a year in the 11 counties than the revenue it receives."

Whispers of secession are echoing in other states. "Today discontented residents in western Maryland, Michigan's Upper Peninsula and the mountains of southern Oregon and Northern California are agitating for their own states," Healy writes. "And in Illinois, two rural lawmakers have floated the idea of giving the boot to Chicago."

As suburbs keep growing and rural areas lose population or stagnate, ruralites feel their voices are no longer heard in their state government. In Cheyenne County, which has a population of about 1,870, 82 percent voted for Mitt Romney, who lost the state. They think their state has changed, and not for the better. "I would've never believed the state of Colorado would become this liberal," convenience-store owner Lyle Miller told Healy. "I'm afraid for my grandchildren. I want them to have the same heritage I had." Some people think the proposal is a bad idea. George Kemp, who runs a well-water business, told Healy, "It's supposed to be United States, not split-up states."

Cheyenne County Commissioner Rod Pelton believes there could be a new state. "There's going to be a revolution of some kind," he told Healy"This is the peaceful way to go about it." However, secession appears unlikely, even if voters in the counties favor it. The state would have to allow them to do so, and then Congress could block it. Even if the counties became a new state, what would be done about ownership of state parks and highways and rights for water and irrigation? Such considerations might cause issues for Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, who will be running for re-election next year. He told Denver radio station KOA, "There are enough people that feel their views and their opinions aren't being considered that I think that's a serious problem." (Read more)

No comments: