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Northern Colorado county commissioners said they plan to hold several public meetings to gather input from the community on whether creating the new state is a good idea before crafting a ballot initiative by Aug. 1.
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Colorado Counties Mull Forming
New State, North Colorado
Weld County, CO, commissioners on Thursday announced that they want to join other northeastern Colorado counties in forming a new state -- North Colorado.

Commissioners said a "collective mass" of issues have cumulated during the past several years that isolate rural Colorado from the rest of the state and put those counties at a disadvantage.

They said they met with county commissioners at a Colorado Counties, Inc. conference earlier this week to discuss the feasibility of forming a new state, a question that would first be put to voters on the November ballot.

Commissioners said Morgan, Logan, Sedgwick, Phillips, Washington, Yuma and Kit Carson counties all expressed interest in the idea.

The signing of SB252, which increases renewable energy standards in rural areas in a way that rural energy companies say is too costly, and an attack on the oil and gas industry from the Legislature this year were the "straws that broke the camel's back," commissioners said.

Weld County's main economic drivers -- agriculture and energy -- are under attack, even though they fill Colorado coffers, said Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway.

He said Weld County hardly sees a return from its financial contributions to the state. Conway said he has watched as transportation corridors in the Denver area continue to be improved while Interstate 76, a vital corridor for Colorado's agricultural counties, remains in deplorable condition.

Conway and Weld County Commissioners Doug Rademacher and Mike Freeman met with The Tribune on Thursday to explain their intentions. They said the entire board is in agreement about the initiative, which they said has been suggested by numerous Weld County residents.

Commissioners said they plan to hold several public meetings to gather input from the community on whether creating the new state is a good idea before crafting a ballot initiative by Aug. 1.

"I know that initially you're kinda like, 'Wow, it's a little out there,'" Conway said. But he said a new state would be economically viable.

With an assessed value of $7.5 billion this year and continued announcements from Noble Energy, Inc., Anadarko Petroleum Corp. and others planning to invest billions more on drilling in the region, more money could go to ignored infrastructure and to education, which commissioners said is seriously under-funded in Weld County.

Weld County alone is larger than Delaware and Rhode Island, and its economy is diversified, Rademacher said.

Overall tax revenue in Weld County has increased year after year, but Freeman said the schools here continue to get the same inadequate allocations from the state because of an outdated and unequal Public School Finance Act.

Freeman said the University of Northern Colorado could become a land grant university, meaning it could receive additional funding from the federal government under certain provisions. Commissioners said they haven't discussed anything with UNC, but plan to in the near future.

Theresa Myers, director of communications for Greeley-Evans School District 6, said district officials are as surprised by the announcement as anyone and have "no idea" what the implications of a change like that would mean for the school district.

"We would need infinitely more information on how it would impact us financially before we could make an educated comment," Myers said.

Conway said Vermont, Tennessee, Kentucky, Maine, and West Virginia petitioned for statehood for similar reasons in United States history. He said just because it hasn't been done for 150 years, doesn't mean the proposal isn't appropriate.

"It hasn't been tried in a while, but we also didn't have a Supreme Court decide the presidential election for 100 years" until the 2000 presidential election, he said.

If state and federal lawmakers approve of the new state, there would be 51 white stars on the American flag and countless questions.


Editor's Note: This would set a precedent that would dramatically neuter the over-weighted "urban" influence at the ballot box. Should this come to pass, why wouldn't rural areas in States like New York, Illinois and California seek similar secessions??...

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