Colorado secede? Counties weigh exit plan to form state of 'North Colorado'

Colorado secede? It sounds implausible, but the idea of counties withdrawing from one state to form a new one isn’t impossible. But some big hurdles – like the US Constitution – make it very difficult.

Colorado state flag. Some rural counties in the state want to secede, forming a new state of 'North Colorado.'

It’s an uphill climb that looks Rocky Mountain high, but a collection of independent-thinking counties may mount an effort to secede from the rest of Colorado and form their own new state.

The idea is rooted in the political rift that many Coloradans – especially rural ones – feel with a Denver-based state legislature that has taken a liberal turn in recent years.

A new state, if it formed, might be called North Colorado.

Would that mean that the rest of the current state would need to become South Colorado? How would the US flag look with 51 stars? Would this give similar ideas to politically restive sections of other states?

It may be too early to ask such questions. The road to forming a new state is a difficult one.

The move would require not just a secession vote showing the counties’ desire to depart. It would also require votes of approval by Colorado’s Legislature and by the US Congress, according to Article 4 of the US Constitution.

“No new State shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress,” the Constitution says.

According to the National Constitution Center, an organization based in Philadelphia, this process “has been used successfully to create five states: Vermont (from New York, in 1791); Kentucky (from Virginia, in 1792); Tennessee (from North Carolina, in 1796); Maine (from Massachusetts, in 1820); and West Virginia (from Virginia, in 1863).”

So it can be done. And in Colorado, the idea is on the table.

In a Thursday news article, the Coloradan website said the state’s Democrat-controlled Legislature has recently passed laws for stricter gun control, greater reliance on renewable energy in rural areas, and restraints on what was perceived as cruel treatment of livestock.

“Our vision and our morals are no longer represented by the state [Legislature] and the current [governor’s] administration, and we think it’s time that we do take seriously what our options are,” said Douglas Rademacher, a Weld County Commissioner. “This is just one of our options, but we will be moving forward with it.”

In addition to Weld County, other counties weighing the new-state idea are Morgan, Logan, Sedgwick, Phillips, Washington, Yuma, and Kit Carson.

A state of North Colorado containing those counties would not be the smallest US state, in land area, but it would have the smallest population.

Similar ideas have sprung up in other US states. But again, since 1863, secession to form a new state hasn’t actually happened.

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