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GREELEY — Weld County ommissioners voted unanimously Aug. 19 to allow residents to vote on whether or not they would like the board to pursue the creation of a 51st state during this year’s November election.
The push to secede from Colorado gained steam after Weld County started meeting with other counties across the northeast corner of the state to explore options to get rural voices heard at the state Capitol.
“This item was initially brought to the board by Weld County residents, and now Weld County residents will have the opportunity to vote on it this November,” said Commissioner Chairman William Garcia.
Commissioners for Phillips, Sedgwick, Cheyenne, Yuma, Kit Carson, Logan and Washington counties approved similar measures to add the question to this year’s ballot. Three other counties, Grand Morgan and Lincoln, are also exploring secession.
“Even residents who didn’t agree with forming a new state, still wanted to be able to vote on the issue,” Garcia said.
In a press release, county staff described support for the initiative as being “overwhelmingly positive.”
“Phone calls and emails from hundreds of people have encouraged the board to make a stand for the voice of rural Colorado,” the release reads.
County commissioners also gathered feedback from county residents through a series of summer public forums throughout the county.
During a forum July 25 in Fort Lupton, much of the public’s frustration was directed at Gov. John Hickenlooper and state democrats who control both chambers of the general assembly.
Senate bill 252 drew most of the crowd’s ire; the bill, signed into law June 5 by Gov. Hickenlooper, doubles the renewable energy requirements of some rural electricity providers.
“The concerns of rural Coloradans have been ignored for years,” Garcia said. “The last session was the straw that broke the camel’s back for many people. They want change. They want to be heard. Policies being passed by the legislature in Denver are having negative impacts on the lives of rural Coloradans. This isn’t an ‘R’ versus ‘D’ issue; it’s much bigger than that.”
The commissioners admit that the 51st state initiative has an uphill battle before North Colorado appears on any U.S. maps. Even if Weld County voters approve the push for statehood, Colorado’s General Assembly would still need to vote on secession.
Article IV, Section 3, Clause 1 of the U.S. Constitution allows for new states to “be admitted by the Congress into this Union, but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.”
But the county commissioners pointed out during the public forums that it has happened before. The last state created through secession from an existing state was West Virginia, which split from Virginia during the American Civil War.
Contact Ben Wiebesiek at 303-659-2522, ext. 205, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.