51st Staters Propose Ballot Initiative to Radically Redraw Colorado House

They’re back.

Some of the Eastern Plains county officials behind last fall’s unsuccessful attempt to carve a 51st state out of northeast Colorado are now behind a proposed ballot initiative to radically change how state representatives are elected t0 the General Assembly.

Under the ballot proposal by a group that’s calling itself “Restoring Colorado,” each of Colorado’s 64 counties would get one state representative. The total would be one less than the state’s 65 representatives who are currently elected from population-based districts.

The problem with the current system, the group explains, is that “of the 65 members, all but 12 are from the Front Range. . . Colorado citizens outside the Front Range have very little voice. ”

Under the provisions of the proposed ballot measure, Denver with more than 600,000 residents would have the same representation in the state House as San Juan County with about 700 residents.

The main proponents – Phillips County Commissioner Joe Kinnie and county administrator Randy Schafer – argue it would be comparable to giving each state in the U.S. two senators no matter what the population. “Wyoming gets two senators as does California,” Kinnie and Schafer said, in a June 7 letter soliciting supporters.

Phillips was one of the five counties that voted last fall to pursue seceding from Colorado. Six others voted down secession votes.

Hurdles remain for the proposed measure.

Backers must obtain about 100,000 signatures on petitions to place it on the fall ballot.

“Our effort is well received and understood by many Coloradans,” the letter says, “but our goal of collecting 100,000 signatures by Aug. 1 is monumental.”

And then there is the matter of fundraising. So far the committee has raised only $535 – and $485 of that came from the 5st State Initiative group.





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