Northeast Colo. Wants to Be Separate State
The northeastern corner of Colorado could be the 51st state if its residents have their way.
Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway told ABC News that his constituents feel "ignored and disenfranchised" by the state government and Colorado State Senate Bill 252 is the "last straw" in "threatening their way of life." Conway and other county leaders plan of response proposes that willing Colorado plains counties form a new state and call it "North Colorado."
The bill that has the commissioner and others up in arms would create renewable energy sources in the state. According to Conway, this bill would raise power rates for rural Colorado while exempting municipal entities from any similar rate changes.
"If you are going to impose mandates, impose them on everybody," Conway told ABC News. "I think [this is] just one more example of the disconnect happening in the state of Colorado [between urban and rural areas]…it isn't a Democrat or a Republican thing."
As cited by Conway, the other factors contributing to the disconnect between the Democrat-controlled legislature and the overwhelmingly Republican rural counties include the passing of gun control legislation, "inequity" in school funding, poor transportation infrastructure and greater state focus on developing oil and gas industries at the cost of local agriculture.
While Conway admits that creating a new state will be a long process, he believes the timing and scenario of the proposal will help push it into fruition.
"We believe the way to move forward is to let people vote on this," he said.
In the coming weeks, constituents and county leaders alike are encouraged to participate in talks discussing North Colorado statehood and garner public interest. The deadline for joining the secession movement is Aug. 1, 2013.
"If there is enough interest we'll go ahead and put it on the November ballot," Conway told ABC News. "We want it to be ready to go for the legislative session in January and have that debate as soon as possible."
If the measure was adopted, it would still need approval from the General Assembly, the governor and the Colorado Legislature would need to petition Congress for the creation of a new state.
According to a report by the Coloradoan, Colorado House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, said it is still early to say whether this plan would survive in the legislature, but that doesn't deter Conway.
"This should be a very long road, we have hurdles and I think that's great," he said. "At the end of the day the nice thing is that the people will decide this."
Groups in other states have attempted similar feats including Arizona, Maine, Utah, Tennessee, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island and West Virginia.