MOFFAT COUNTY, Colo. - A northwestern Colorado county could join the movement by several counties in northeastern Colorado to create a 51st state.
Moffat County Commissioner John Kinkaid announced his intention this week to write the ballot language that would ask local voters on the Western Slope whether they want to join the secession movement that has gained momentum on the Front Range on the other side of the state.
According to the Craig Daily Press, Kinkaid said Moffat County could either join up with the 51st state proposed for the Front Range or maybe become part of Wyoming.
Officials in Wyoming were not amused.
"The country and our state face many significant challenges at this time. This discussion does not move us forward," said Renny MacKay, spokesman for Gov. Matt Mead.
Tuesday, Weld County commissioners approved the wording of a proposal that would ask voters if the commissioners, along with commissioners in other northern Colorado counties, should pursue the initiative.
The exact wording will be: "Shall the Board of County Commissioners of Weld County, in concert with the county commissioners of other Colorado counties, pursue becoming the the 51st state of the United States of America?"
When they were first asked to consider the proposal in June, Weld County commissioners said they felt agriculture and oil and gas were under attack in the State Legislature, and the needs of rural Colorado counties were being ignored.
"They don't understand the needs of rural Colorado," said Weld County District 3 commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer.
Kirkmeyer explained she was frustrated with the State Legislature, specifically when it came to Senate Bill 252. That legislation requires energy suppliers in small towns to double renewable energy requirements.
She also expressed frustration about Governor Hickenlooper's handling of drought issues.
"Last year we were in the midst of a drought. We also were having horrible fires in our mountain areas. The Governor declared a state of emergency for the fires and was able to use the high mountain reservoirs, the water out of the high mountain reservoirs to help put out the fires...We asked him to declare a drought and a statewide emergency for here in Weld County...so that we could turn on the wells and take that water out of the, the same water, only it's an underground reservoir, and use it for the drought. We were told no," Kirkmeyer said.
At this point, four counties including Weld, Sedgwick, Yuma and Cheyenne have decided to put the statehood issue on the ballot. Another seven counties are seriously considering the issue.
Weld County District 2 Commissioner Doug Rademacher told the Greeley Tribune if the proposal makes it to the November ballot, he expects voters to approve the creation of a new state by at least a 60 percent margin.
However, in spite of support for the idea, Rademacher and political science experts say they do not expect it to actually happen.
"I think the mere discussion of this has already had a positive impact in terms of the dialogue that I say has begun and continues to have," Commissioner Sean Conway said. "A win for us would be to continue this dialog."
Under guidelines in the U.S. Constitution, North Colorado would have to get the consent of the Colorado General Assembly and the U.S. Congress to move forward with forming its own state.