Measure to Split California Into 3 States Will Appear on Nov. 6 Ballot

Susan Jones | June 13, 2018 | 6:09am EDT
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( - The State of California is "nearly ungovernable," given its "diverse population and economies." So says a newly qualified ballot initiative that would split California into three states -- maybe -- if voters approve the proposal in November.

The summary posted online by the State Attorney General's office says the split would require the approval of Congress and undoubtedly the courts. If all parties approved the plan, "all tax collections and spending by the existing State of California would end. California’s existing state assets and liabilities would be divided among three new states. These states would make their own decisions about state and local taxes and spending."

One of the new states would be named Northern California (or a name to be chosen by the people of that state). It would encompass 40 northern counties, including San Francisco and its surrounds.

The second state, tentatively named California, would include only six counties: Los Angeles, Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura.

The third new state, to be named Southern California (or a name chosen by the people), would include 12 counties, including Fresno, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Tulare.

(For the record, Los Angeles Times cartoonist David Horsey suggested naming the Northern California/Napa area "Weed" or "Merlot"; he suggested that the Silicon Valley area be named "iState"; and Los Angeles/Hollywood could be called "Bling.")

Tim Draper, the Republican-leaning venture capitalist who submitted the ballot initiative, told the Los Angeles Times last summer than three states will provide "better infrastructure, better education, and lower taxes." “States will be more accountable to us and can cooperate and compete for citizens.”

The ballot initiative includes the following "Statement of Findings":

A. California is the nation's most populous state, nearly six times larger than the average population of the fifty states. However, much of the state's population is concentrated in certain urban and coastal areas, particularly in Southern California.

B. California is the nation's third largest state by geography, over two times larger than the average of the fifty states, with enormous and diverse economies, including agriculture, energy, technology, and entertainment.

C. As a consequence of these and other socio-economic factors, political representation of California's diverse population and economies has rendered the state nearly ungovernable. Additionally, vast parts of California are poorly served by a representative government dominated by a large number of elected representatives from a small part of our state, both geographically and economically.

The document also notes that voters overwhelmingly approved splitting California into two states in 1859, but "Congress never acted on that request due to the Civil War."

The Civil War prompted what is now West Virginia to break away from Virginia, the last time in U.S. history that one state became two.

This is Draper's third attempt to divide California. He proposed breaking it into six states in 2012 and 2014, but those measures did not go anywhere.

The California Board of Elections said on Tuesday he appears to have enough valid signatures this time to get the measure on the November ballot.

As The Los Angeles Times reported, politics is sure to be an issue:

Where California now has two seats in the 100-person U.S. Senate, the three states would have six seats in a 104-member chamber. That would dilute the power of other states and increase the power of what used to be a single state if its six senators banded together on various issues.

Presidential politics also could doom the proposal once it reached Washington. Vikram Amar, a law professor who has written extensively about Draper’s plans, pointed out last fall that the shift in California’s votes in the Electoral College — which have been awarded for a quarter-century to Democratic nominees — would be split between three states. And one of those states, based on past election results, could be won by a Republican.


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