3 Cal­i­for­nias?

Bal­lot ini­tia­tive seeks to break up state

Yuma Sun - - FRONT PAGE -

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Cal­i­for­ni­ans will face a choice this Novem­ber of whether to di­vide the na­tion’s most pop­u­lous state into three, an ef­fort that would rad­i­cally shake up not only the West Coast, but the en­tire na­tion.

The “Cal 3” ini­tia­tive is driven by ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist Tim Draper, who has tried and failed in the past to place an ef­fort to break up Cal­i­for­nia on the bal­lot, in­clud­ing a bid in 2016 to cre­ate six sep­a­rate states. Back­ers of the mea­sure ar­gue Cal­i­for­nia has be­come “un­govern­able” be­cause of its eco­nomic and ge­o­graphic di­ver­sity as well as its pop­u­la­tion ap­proach­ing 40 mil­lion peo­ple.

Elec­tion of­fi­cials say this year’s ef­fort gath­ered the roughly 365,000 sig­na­tures it needed to land on the gen­eral elec­tion bal­lot. It will be of­fi­cially cer­ti­fied later this month. Even if it wins pas­sage from vot­ers, the mea­sure would face sig­nif­i­cant hur­dles.

THE SPLIT

Cal­i­for­nia would break into three states — North­ern Cal­i­for­nia, Cal­i­for­nia and South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. The mea­sure aims to cre­ate states with rel­a­tively equal pop­u­la­tions and eco­nomic strengths.

The new North­ern Cal­i­for­nia would in­clude 40 coun­ties, in­clud­ing Sacramento, San Jose and San Francisco as well as the state’s wine coun­try and ru­ral north­ern ar­eas.

Keep­ing the name Cal­i­for­nia would be a group of six coun­ties cen­tered around Los An­ge­les, with a to­tal pop­u­la­tion of 12.3 mil­lion peo­ple.

South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, mean­while, would in­clude Orange and San Diego Coun­ties as well what’s now known as Cal­i­for­nia’s Cen­tral Val­ley and In­land Em­pire.

NA­TIONAL REACH

It’s not just Cal­i­for­nia that would feel the ef­fects of such a change.

Turn­ing one state into three would cre­ate four new U.S. sen­a­tors, a move that would sig­nif­i­cantly boost Cal­i­for­ni­ans’ in­flu­ence in Wash­ing­ton. The num­ber of rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the U.S. House could change slightly based on each state’s pop­u­la­tion break­down. Three sep­a­rate Cal­i­for­nias would also shake up the Elec­toral Col­lege, which picks the pres­i­dent.

Al­though Cal­i­for­nia as it ex­ists to­day is heav­ily Demo­cratic, one of the new Cal­i­for­nias might not be. The newly pro­posed South­ern Cal­i­for­nia in­cludes tra­di­tion­ally Repub­li­can ar­eas such as Orange County. Demo­cratic vot­ers cur­rently edge out Repub­li­cans in the 12 coun­ties, but not by much. That could po­ten­tially boost the GOP’s West Coast rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Congress.

WHO’S BE­HIND IT

Draper is a Sil­i­con Val­ley ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist known for in­vest­ing in com­pa­nies such as Skype, Tesla and Hot­mail and has poured mil­lions of dol­lars into ef­forts to break up Cal­i­for­nia.

Draper ar­gues that Cal­i­for­nia has be­come “nearly un­govern­able” be­cause of its diverse economies and pop­u­la­tion. He and back­ers also ar­gue that vot­ers out­side of large ur­ban ar­eas such as Los An­ge­les are un­der­served in Sacramento be­cause so many state law­mak­ers come from ma­jor cities.

“Break­ing the states into three smaller, more man­age­able states means those states will be more re­spon­si­ble and more re­spon­sive,” said Peggy Grande, a Cal 3 spokes­woman.

WHO DE­CIDES

Pass­ing at the bal­lot box is just the first hur­dle. That would re­quire sup­port from a sim­ple ma­jor­ity of vot­ers.

The Leg­is­la­ture and gov­er­nor would then need to ask Congress for the ul­ti­mate OK — likely a tall or­der. If Congress gave a green light, it would then be up the Leg­is­la­ture to de­ter­mine ex­actly how the split would hap­pen, in­clud­ing how the state’s debts would be di­vided. Each of the three states would de­ter­mine their own gov­er­nance struc­ture.

Law­mak­ers would only have 12 months af­ter con­gres­sional ap­proval to set the new rules; other­wise the state’s debts would au­to­mat­i­cally split be­tween the three new ones.

Be­yond those dif­fi­cul­ties, law­suits would surely fol­low.

WHAT CRITICS SAY

Critics of the mea­sure take a dif­fer­ent tack, calling it an un­work­able and costly ap­proach to solv­ing Cal­i­for­nia’s prob­lems.

An op­po­si­tion ef­fort called OneCal­i­for­nia ar­gues the pro­posal would cause “po­lit­i­cal chaos” and greater inequal­ity. The Cal­i­for­nia Cham­ber of Com­merce, mean­while, said such a mon­u­men­tal change would be costly and com­pli­cated, which would only serve to cre­ate new prob­lems.

Lt. Gov. Gavin New­som, the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee for gov­er­nor, said Tues­day he op­poses the mea­sure.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

THIS OCT. 28, 2015, FILE PHOTO shows the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco sky­line in Cal­i­for­nia.

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