Phillips County Plan: One State Representative for Each County

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 13 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” is monumental.

“Our mission is to restore fair representation for ALL Coloradans,” said the authors of the Phillips County proposal. “Currently, both the House and the Senate in the Colorado legislature are based on population.  This is in direct contrast to the way the U.S. Congress is determined, where one body, the Senate, is based on land area (two Senators per state, regardless of size) and the other body, the House, is based on population.  The federal model provides a natural balance between large and small states and has been in place since the inception of our Republic.”

Proponents have until mid-August to collect the necessary signatures.


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