by Lou Binninger
On Wednesday, January 6, Northern Californians wanting a greater voice and more political power are submitting declarations to the Secretary of State, seeking more representation and/or to separate from the State of California, under Article 4, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution.
The forming of a 51st State (currently referred to as Jefferson) from counties in rural Northern California may appear futile and eccentric to the casual observer. However, a closer look at the nation’s genesis reveals a common formative theme.
Some founding colonies started and folded. Other colonies split. Some states were birthed by division and other states grew by claiming disputed territories.
Do you recall Plymouth (1620), Saybrook (1635) or New Haven (1637)? How about New Netherlands (1614) or Carolina (1663)? All were colonies that became Massachusetts, Connecticut, East and West Jersey or divided into North and South Carolina (1729).
The State of Kentucky exited from Virginia in 1792. Rapid population growth in Kentucky County, Virginia, disputes over trade, government bureaucracy and a lack of military protection were main issues.
In 1820, Maine separated from Massachusetts. Much of the state was pro-British and refused to protect the people (those that would became Maine) from British invaders. Also, the region to become Maine was experiencing rapid population growth.
West Virginia left Virginia in 1863 due to political mal-apportionment and a lack of representation in the Virginia legislature. Virginia was also politically divided over whether to secede from the Union.
January 6th is a historic day for thousands of Californians that have embraced the Jefferson movement involving 24 of the state’s 58 counties. Six counties already filed with the state and another 15 plan to submit declarations. Others with organizing committees may follow.
In the last two years, the Jefferson movement has grown and continues to gain momentum among those having little influence in state government. Jefferson people contend that their lives are ruled by legislators and voters in greater Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.
An example is the fire tax imposed on those in rural counties. The bill was authored by a Southern California lawmaker whose constituents are not required to pay the tax. The tax is considered illegal and unjust by those affected by it.
Rural citizens want to return to the days prior to 1964 when each county was represented by their own state senator. Today, members of both the state assembly and senate are allotted according to population, not per county.
Currently, 11 northern rural counties are represented by one senator while Los Angeles County alone has 11 senators. Northern California has just 3 of 80 seats in the state assembly. Jefferson people argue that California’s rural challenges and values are different from their urban counterparts, but there is inadequate representation in the north to have legislative influence. If the legislature does not support more representation, then the counties plan to separate from the state.
At the federal level, each state regardless of population is represented by two senators. In the House of Representatives, members from each state are allotted by population. This plan offers political clout for small population states like Montana or Maine and protects them from being dominated by big population states like California and New York. Jefferson advocates seek this kind of political fairness for rural counties.
Overall, Jefferson people believe a new state will offer less government, fewer taxes / regulations and more local control.