Could Weld County become 51st state? Commissions are serious

GREELEY, Colo. - Motivated by their objections to recent gun control measures and energy legislation, Weld County Commissioners are preparing to take action that would remove them from Colorado and form a new state.

"Publicity stunt?  Absolutely not.  This is not a publicity stunt," said Weld County commissioner Mike Freeman. "It really started from our constituents.  It came from people coming to us and saying we're so frustrated, the over reach of the state legislature, is there anything you that you can do.   We’re absolutely serious about this," he said.

County commissioners Barbara Kirkmeyer, William Garcia, Sean Conway, Mike Freeman and Doug Rademacher are all in support of the proposal, according to a county spokeswoman.

The tipping point in the Commissioners' frustration was the signing of Senate Bill 252 by Governor John Hickenlooper on Wednesday. The bill increases renewable energy standards in rural areas, but does it in a way that energy companies argue is too expensive.

Hickenlooper said he struggled with the decision to sign the bill and only made it a law beside an executive order allowing energy companies to weigh in on the feasibility of the measure so that compromise can be found "in the next legislative session."

The County Commissioners also object to gun control measures passed earlier in the legislative session and signed into law by the Governor. Among other things, the new laws limit the number of rounds allowed in a magazine and change regulations for private gun sales.

"Background checks on gun sales, increasing renewable energy and supporting responsible development of oil and gas are popular with rural and urban voters. Not everyone agrees, of course. But we keep trying," said Eric Brown, the Governor's Director of Communications.

The Commissioners in Weld County say they will conduct public meetings and decide whether to draft a ballot measure by August 1. They'd have to get other counties on board with the plan, but say they've had support from Morgan, Yuma, Logan, Washington, Kit Carson, Weld, Sedgwick, Phillips, and Cheyenne Counties.

Voter Jennifer McRae feels the rest of Colorado ignores the needs of the North.

"A lot of our tax dollar have been going to Denver and Boulder county and that whole area," she said.
         
"I think we're fine as we are," said voter Monty Black.

Voters would have to approve the ballot measure, and then the United States Constitution requires that a State's legislature must approve the creation of a new state within its jurisdiction. The U.S. Congress would then have the final decision.

In addition, the new state would have two U.S. senators and at least one U.S. representative.   The state capital would have to be named and a governor elected.

The commissioners tell 7NEWS they propose no income or sales taxes be established in the new state.

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