Some Washington officials want to create the 51st state by splitting theirs in half.
State representatives introduced a bill Monday that would create a new state called Liberty. The newly formed state would exist in the eastern part of what is currently Washington, according to House Bill 1239.
“The western boundary of Liberty follows the crest of the Cascade mountains and the western borders of Okanogan, Chelan, Kittitas, Yakima, and Klickitat counties,” the bill states. “The eastern, northern, and southern borders of Liberty are the existing state borders.”
In addition to establishing new state lines, the bill proposes creating 15 transition committees that would establish governmental functions within Liberty. Those include education, executive functions, legislative functions, judicial functions and courts, debt, statewide elections, health care and more.
The bill was introduced by Rep. Rob Chase and Rep. Bob McCaslin, Republicans who represent Washington’s fourth state house district.
The concept of splitting Washington state into two isn’t new, The Olympian reported in 2018. The idea has been around for decades and was pushed heavily by former state Rep. Matt Shea.
Voters in rural eastern and southwest Washington tend to be more conservative on state initiatives than the rest of the state. The urban northwest, which includes Seattle and Tacoma, has historically backed more liberal candidates and initiatives.
People who support the creation of Liberty say Washington is “already two states on virtually every major issue of the day,” according to the movement’s website.
“The Liberty State Movement is an effort to create a new state from Washington State based upon political and geographic lines,” the website says. “Since the formation of Washington State in 1889, people of the eastern and rural parts of Washington State have felt separate from the western capitol in Olympia.”
The process to create a new state, however, isn’t easy — and it’s unlikely. The bill would need to pass and be approved at a state level, then get the approval of the U.S. Congress.