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Will North Colorado become America's 51st state?
That's what some residents in the Centennial State are pushing for. Representatives from eight northern counties convened Monday, CBS Denver reports, to "begin mapping the boundaries for the new state they say will represent the interests of rural Colorado."
The secession movement stems from "a growing urban-rural divide," with state lawmakers in Denver passing sweeping gun control legislation and calling for more renewable energy and less oil and gas production—a big part of northern Colorado's economy.
“Northern and Northeastern Colorado and our voices are being ignored in the legislative process this year, and our very way of life is under attack,” Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway told Coloradoan.com.
“This is not a stunt. This is a very serious deliberative discussion that’s going on,” Conway told CBS Denver. “There’s a real feeling that a lot of folks who come from the urban areas don’t appreciate the contribution that many Coloradans contribute.”
Officials from Weld, Morgan, Logan, Sedgwick, Phillips, Washington, Yuma and Kit Carson counties were involved in the discussions, Conway said, adding that two counties in Nebraska are interested in joining the new state.
“We need to figure out way to re-enfranchise the people who feel politically disenfranchised now and ignored,” he said.
Conway and his coalition are hoping to put the question of secession to voters in November through a ballot referendum.
Of course, seceding isn't that easy. West Virginia was the last to state to do it, breaking free from Virginia during the Civil War in 1863—or 14 years before Colorado was admitted to the Union. To form a new state, approval would be needed from voters, the Colorado General Assembly and U.S. Congress.
The movement does appear to have at least one supporter in Washington.
“The people of rural Colorado are mad, and they have every right to be,” U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, a Republican from Yuma, Colo., told Denver's 9 News last month. “The governor and his Democrat colleagues in the statehouse have assaulted our way of life, and I don’t blame people one bit for feeling attacked and unrepresented by the leaders in our state.”
Feeling disenfranchised, one could argue, is part of being American. Residents from more than 30 states, including Colorado and Texas, filed petitions to secede in the wake of President Barack Obama's reelection in November. But citizens in Austin, Texas, filed a counter petition to allow the city to "peacefully" secede from Texas and remain a part of the United States.
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- Centennial State