Posted: Thursday, January 15, 2015 12:09 am
By Andrew Creaseyfirstname.lastname@example.org
Yuba will be one of three Northern California counties today to have its declaration presented supporting withdrawal from the state of California.
The declarations were lauded by supporters of the State of Jefferson, who have spearheaded the movement to withdraw from the state, but members of the board of supervisors from Yuba and Sutter counties took a more tentative approach, saying the proposed 51st state has a long, uncertain road to approval.
Declarations from Tehama and Glenn counties will also be presented by the Jefferson Declaration Committee, who volunteer in support of the State of Jefferson, to the secretary of state and both houses of the state Legislature. State of Jefferson supporters will rally at the Capitol, but the Yuba County Board of Supervisors will not attend. Both boards in Yuba and Sutter counties passed resolutions supporting withdrawal last year, although Sutter County’s resolution has not been presented to the state.
State of Jefferson supporters maintain that the rural, northern counties of California are under-represented by a state Legislature dominated by urban politicians who over-regulate and misunderstand the issues affecting the North State.
But county supervisors stopped short of offering unwavering support for a new state.
John Nicoletti, a Yuba County supervisor, said the declaration states that it is difficult to work with California, but said it does not represent a policy shift or signify that the county is abandoning California.
In particular, Nicoletti mentioned Beale Air Force Base and resource sharing work that has been done to allow local government agencies to provide municipal services to the base, such as wastewater treatment.
“It has taken years to get those things worked out from the federal standpoint, and it would take years to shift it to a new state authority,” Nicoletti said. “I feel very protective of those contracts. I’m not willing to abandon that or adversely affect it in any way.”
Ron Sullenger, chairman of the Sutter County Board of Supervisors, said the county’s stance on the proposed state is “lukewarm.”
“We think it’s a great idea; we just don’t know if we want to step and say ‘it’s State of Jefferson or nothing,'” Sullenger said. “We’re going to hurry up and wait to see if it goes somewhere. We’re not convinced it will go somewhere.”
Nicoletti echoed the sentiment.
“We can give a rally on idealism and perhaps political preference, but the technical aspect of this is more than a deep challenge,” he said.
Tom Knorr, president of the Tehama County State of Jefferson committee, said he frequently hears how challenging it will be to create a 51st state, which requires approval by the state and federal legislatures. The last state to successfully withdraw from an existing state was in 1863, when West Virginia split from Virginia.
“My first response is, if you’re not asking for anything, you’re not going to get anything anyway,” Knorr said. “It will be a tough task, but I think there’s some rationale for doing it. California is too large. There’s thousands of examples where one-size-fits-all does not work. We’re going to have to do something in order to fix it.”
The resolution passed by Sutter County cites abuses by the state, including the imposition of certain taxes and fees, the state’s disregard of payment-in-lieu-of-taxes funds owed to many rural counties, excessive environmental regulation that “has crippled our industry, delayed important public projects and greatly increased costs,” and disregard of the county’s historic water rights, among others.
Sullenger said he is in talks with other county supervisors to try to return the California Senate model to its original format, when each county had a senator. Today, the distribution of Senate seats is based on population, due to a United States Supreme Court Decision in 1968 known as Reynolds v. Sims.
“We basically have two assemblies, so everyone north of Sacramento is taxed without representation,” Sullenger said. “That approach is more doable and easier to sell (than the State of Jefferson).”
CONTACT reporter Andrew Creasey at 749-4780.
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