The State of Jefferson just got one step closer to becoming a reality. On Tuesday California Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced that the secession proposal known as “Six Californians” could move forward and petitions be circulated for signatures.
For Northern California to split from the rest of the state, State of Jefferson supporters would have to garner at least 800,000 valid signatures and be placed upon the ballot for vote. Even if the Six Californians movement wins on election day, supporters still face an uphill secession battle.
An excerpt from a release from California Secretary of State Bowen’s office:
“[The ballot issue] divides California into six states subject to approval by Congress. Assigns each county to a new state, unless county voters approve reassignment to different new state and second state approves. Establishes commission to settle California’s financial affairs after division; upon failure to resolve, each new state would retain assets within its boundaries and would receive proportionate distribution of California’s debts based on population. Authorizes counties to refuse to provide State-mandated programs and services absent sufficient State reimbursement. Empowers counties to make and enforce all laws governing local affairs. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government. If the federal government approves the proposed creation of six new states, all tax collections and spending by the existing State of California would end, with its assets and liabilities divided among the new states. Decisions by appointed commissioners and elected leaders would determine how taxes, public spending, and other public policies would change for the new states and their local governments.”
Rural California residents say they feel they have no representation in the state capitol and have little in common with the southern and central portions of the state. Redding City Council Vice Mayor Patrick Jones believes that when a state is so diverse, it should be split. The local elected official also said, “At this point, I don’t care how the state is split, as long as they cut me off from Sacramento and beyond.”
If the State of Jefferson becomes a reality, Northern California and portions of Southern Oregon could be combined. Although support for seceding from California has garnered more support in recent years, the idea of combing the parts of the two states originated during the 19th century, according to Fox News. The secession movement lost steam in 1941 not long after it started, due to attention being turned to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Rural Oregonians also feel under-represented and disconnected from the urban regions of the state, without a voice in the governing of the state.
Modoc County Board of Supervisors Chair Geri Byrne noted that the vote supported the formation of a state of Jefferson. The vote to secede from California was unanimous, with one supervisor absent from the meeting. “California is essentially ungovernable in its present size,” said Mark Baird, a spokesperson for the Jefferson Declaration Committee. “We lack the representation to address the problems that affect the north state. We’re looking for 12 counties, though we can certainly do it with less.”