Capital Briefs

California counties to vote on secession measure

Voters in Del Norte and Tehama Counties in California are set to vote Tuesday on a measure calling for secession from California to form a new state.

Supporters of the measure hope to combine parts of northern California with areas of southern Oregon to create a new state called Jefferson, named for President Thomas Jefferson who once hoped the area might be made into a freestanding republic. The measure asks each county’s board of supervisors to join support to form the new state.

Reuters reported:

Local vexations with state government were cited by Aaron Funk, an aptly named organizer of the movement: ‘lack of representation, lack of infrastructure, inability to use a lot of our resources.’

Heavy winter rains often wash out U.S. 101, a major artery in the region. That really rankles him. So do restrictions on timber harvesting. Most of all, Funk loathes the region’s paltry representation in California’s senate, with its population-based allocation. Just 28,000 people call Del Norte County home, compared to 38 million for the state overall.

Del Norte County officials made a formal argument against the measure, stating that the area “will continue to face the same challenges” if secession is successful, only this time without subsidization.

This isn’t the first attempt from California counties to secede from the state. Residents proposed a new state of Jefferson in the 1940s along with citizens in southern Oregon, though efforts in 1993 made more progress when the state assembly agreed to a nonbinding statewide vote to carve California into three parts. However, the measure never reached the state Senate.

Constitutional law scholars are skeptical of the measure, noting that secession requires consent from the state legislature and the U.S. Congress.

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