by Drew Phelps
Among the various schemes to split California into two or more states, one that made waves with its recent “declaration of independence” is known as the New California movement.
As a more conservative movement, the group takes issue with the governing politics of California and says that “the history of the present Governor and Government of California is a history of repeated injuries and usurpation.” The result, the group says, has resulted in a “Tyranny over the Counties of New California.”
In response, the group has partitioned a “new” California, consisting mostly of inland counties, including Fresno County and its neighbors.
The new state structure would look like this if the group gets its way:
According to the group, the new state would have a population of about 15 million, leaving “regular” California with 25 million.
Proponents plan to submit their proposal to the state Legislature, where it would have to pass through both houses before being taken to Congress for approval.
Their founding documents show an understanding that they will have to prove they can effectively govern the new state in order for the process to hold any real legitimacy. Thus, they claim to have begun the process by establishing county committees and expect to ramp up their governing activity as things move forward.
According to CBS News, representatives for New California say it will be 10 to 18 months before they’ll be ready to work with the current state’s Legislature.
Will Democrats Allow California to Fracture?
Proponents may be optimistic about the chances, but, barring some extreme events, it is highly unlikely that the California Democrat-dominated legislature would allow the measure to proceed.
With past efforts to divide the state into as many as six different states all failing to qualify for the ballot thus far, it is improbable that the Legislature would heed a call presumably made by a relatively small minority of residents.
In reality, it is probably more likely to achieve separation through the initiative process. Such a measure, if passed, would indicate a far stronger and widespread interest among voters.
The process would then still flow through the Legislature – any initiative on the matter is simply a petition for their consideration due to U.S. Constitutional requirements – but would provide a more compelling argument to force their hand.
Venture Capitalist Leads Competing Effort
Currently, an initiative to split California into three states, backed by Bay Area venture capitalist Tim Draper, was certified on December 18 as collecting 25% of the required signatures to land it on the ballot. This means that it is on track to qualify, but whether proponents can keep up the pace of signature-gathering is unknown.
This proposal differs from the New California effort in that it would divide the state into “Northern California,” “Southern California,, and simply “California” (which would span the coastal counties from Los Angeles to Monterey and San Benito).