SPLITTING THE STATE: How a new movement for the State of Liberty is gaining traction in Stevens County

(By Brandon Hansen/Chewelah Independent)

51st state movement has already raised $5,000 in Stevens County…

The movement to split Washington State is nothing new, but the movement has received new life as “the state of Liberty” has gained traction with Spokane Valley 4th District State Rep Matt Shea helping lead the charge.

The proposal is to shave off Washington east of the Cascades into the country’s 51st state. The State of Liberty would, according to movement leaders, represent the population’s political will more than a Washington state that is dominated by the more heavily populated west side.

The official 51st state movement already has a name, state animal (the grizzly bear), state bird (osprey), State flower (Indian paintbursh), state bush (huckleberry) and state vegetable (potato). Now it’s getting some money.

Two weeks ago, a fundraiser at the Colville Ag Trade Building hosted by the Stevens County Property Rights Group that invited the movement’s leaders to come and explain what this new state could look like, earned $3,000. In a prior fundraiser, the SCPRA also raised another $2,000.

“Stevens County is really leading the way and setting the bar,” SCPRG leader and State of Liberty county captain coordinator Renee Holiday said. “It really kicked off our efforts to purchase 200 flags and it’s really exciting to see people get behind this.”

The state flag depicting an osprey holding a broken sword and shackles over the motto “Liberty, Founded in Truth.” People who attended the event filled out forms to purchase the flags, which can also be purchased on the state movement website www.libertystate.org.

Movements and proposals to split the state have been tried before. This one, however, is quoting a KXLY poll that shows 73 percent of people in the area want the state to split up.

“Everybody is familiar with the policies being dictated by King County,” Holiday said. “The plain and simple truth is these policies don’t represent any of us.”

Holiday added the State of Liberty would better serve eastern Washington’s rural values and needs, as opposed to the urban values of needs on the west side. She pointed to the Hirst Decision, water banking and additional regulations on farmers and cattle producers.

“Hirst was really the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Holiday said. “All of a sudden, we as property owners couldn’t drill wells nor could we sell our property because people don’t want to buy property without water access.”

Holiday said in the Hirst Decision that judges legislate from the bench and threw away 100 years’ worth of Washington water law.

“We need to restore constitutional law,” Holiday said. “What we’re seeing from the west side is lawlessness. Agencies are side-stepping laws and they do all these kind of practices. Our goal is to return back to a more local representation style of government.”

The process to become a new state would be a complicated one as there would need to be majority approval from the Washington State Legislature, then approval from Congress. According to the Statesman-Examiner’s report on the event, Shea laid out a several step plan that would include getting representatives in government that reflect the values of the people, then pushing the movement of Liberty State, getting resolutions from the counties within the state to support it and then pushing through bills in both Olympia and D.C.

If the state legislative bill fails, Shea said they would move to a private referendum to ask the people to vote on the state splitting up.

“Our resolve is to push and push and keep doing it until we accomplish this goal,” Holiday said. “We could see this happening in 2-3 years or more than that. We’re really seeing a groundswell tidal wave of support and I think it’s going to happen.”

While a proposed constitution is under review by leaders, Holiday did want to clear up some misconceptions about the state.

“There is some misconception that we’re out here to make a Christian state,” Holiday said. “That we’re going to have no gay marriage, no legal marijuana and things like that. What we’re trying to do is restore representation to local government and return power to the people.”

Matt Shea made statements in a Facebook post on the movement’s group page — which has 2,558 members including some local representatives — that also addressed the concerns of a Christian State.

“So we start off the event in Colville with a prayer from a black Reverend, then a song later by a former national spokesman for medical cannabis, and start the main presentation with the words ‘you can be an atheist in Liberty’ and some fearmonger who lacks any integrity claims ‘racism’ ‘Christian tyranny’ and the movement wants to ban medical cannabis.,” Shea said in the post.

In the same post, he asked people to ignore the tactics of people trying to discredit the movement.

The population of the new state would be estimated at 1.5 million people, which would make it more populated than 10 other states, and Washington, D.C. It would be just a hair under Idaho’s population of 1.6 million people.

The State of Liberty movement already has events planned this year in Okanogan County, Pend Oreille County and Grant County. There also plans to have an event in the Tri-Cities as well.