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Oct 17, 2013 11:37 PM by Tony Spehar -

El Paso County Commissioners asked to consider joining secession movement

El Paso County Commissioners were asked to join in the discussion to create a new state called "New Colorado" at a presentation by the 51st State Initiative on Thursday afternoon.

Some county residents, like Clyde Chess, came to hear the presentation. Chess is a rancher and said he feels that lawmakers and other state leaders pay too much attention to big cities like Denver and either don't care or don't know enough about agricultural issues.

"Until you write the check and endure the blizzard, you endure the drought and until you are the one that does that you don't understand the needs of agriculture," Chess explained.

Jeffrey Hare, one of the organizers of the 51st State Initiative, gave the group's presentation to the county commissioners. The secession movement started in Northern Colorado. So far 11 counties have put a question regarding secession on their November ballots. Voters won't be deciding on whether to leave the state, but will only be asked whether they'd be interested in pursuing the option.

"People that are living in the counties that are wanting to form our new state, we feel like government has grown to the point where it has grown well in excess of the consent of the governed," Hare told the commissioners.

El Paso County is one of the counties the 51st State Initiative group has identified as having significant interest in secession among their populations.

The movement to form a new state began after increased gun control laws were passed by the Colorado legislature earlier this year. Hare said the gun laws, lack of interest in rural problems and other issues inspired the push to secede. Secession isn't the only solution the supporters are pushing for, they're also looking into changing Colorado laws regarding representation or allowing counties to be annexed by other states such as Wyoming.

"It's primary goal is protecting liberty, thinner state government, more local control," Hare said of the 51st State Initiative's motivations.

Commissioners expressed interest in the goals of the group, but also expressed doubts.

"In general the liberties that we see here are those principals that we believe in, I just don't know that this is the right method to get there," Commissioner Sallie Clark said of the secession movement.



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