Northern California Forming New State? Not Likely, Say Experts

Thursday, 29 May 2014 12:10 PM

By Nick Sanchez

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Northern California counties are contemplating forming a new state after feeling like their agrarian, politically conservative populations aren't being properly represented at the state capital.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that roughly 91,000 citizens will have the chance to vote on a June 3 measure that asks the board of supervisors in Del Norte and Tehama counties to join in the fight to establish a 51st state named Jefferson.

Glenn, Modoc, Siskiyou and Yuba counties already have elected officials that have voted to join the movement.

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"We have 11 counties up here that share one state senator," said Aaron Funk of Crescent City, near the Oregon border. He compares that to the 20 state senators representing Los Angeles and 10 representing the San Francisco Bay Area.

"Essentially, we have no representation whatsoever," he concluded.

Humboldt County board members said there wasn't enough of a push for their county. "There are so many other things – infrastructure, homelessness, mental health – that we need to be dealing with. As an elected official, that's what we need to be focusing on," said Board Chairman and 1st District Supervisor Rex Bohn, according to The Eureka Times-Standard.

Regardless of Humboldt's or any other county's desire to secede, it won't amout to a hill of beans, said College of the Redwoods political science professor Ryan Emenaker. "All the county, in terms of its authority, can say is it's interested in this. [Lawmakers] aren't likely to want to give California two extra senators. I think that would be one of the main blocking points."

Emenaker is referring to the fact that to formally create a new state, the counties would need votes of approval from both the state legislature and then the U.S. Congress.

Nonetheless, the effort is an interesting intellectual exercise. The 16 counties that could get support from their respective boards of supervisors for the new state make up more than 25 percent of California's land — twice the size of New Hampshire — with nearly half a million residents.

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