Oregon gives DC Statehood a hearing, but Greater Idaho still waiting

Oregon Senate President Rob Wagner recently authorized a hearing for SJM 6, a bill that would urge Congress to grant statehood to Washington DC.

We hope he will hear people who are closer to home, in eastern Oregon, by granting a hearing on the Greater Idaho movement, which has won 11 county elections in eastern Oregon. Our bill SJM 2 has not gotten a hearing yet.

If Sen. Rob Wagner is willing to consider self-determination for DC, is he willing to consider self-determination and the consent of the governed – for eastern Oregon?

DC statehood would add 2 Democrats to the US Senate. If Oregon is interested in getting a DC statehood bill through the US House of Representatives, whose schedule is controlled by a Republican Speaker of the House, then is Oregon willing to balance DC statehood with statehood for an area that would add 2 Republicans to the US Senate? This might be the only way for DC statehood to be approved.

DC statehood is a serious movement that passed the US House of Representatives at least twice when Nancy Pelosi was Speaker.

Many citizens of eastern Oregon are interested in the possibility of becoming a new state. But eastern Oregon’s population, 380,000, is only 6% the population of the average state (6.6 million). Creating a new state out of eastern and southern Washington State, eastern and southern Oregon, and northernmost California would make more sense, if all three states were willing to cede these areas. Even without California, a state of only eastern & southern Washington and eastern & southern Oregon would have a population of over 3.4 million. The population of Washington DC is 690,000.

Unfortunately, we found in 2021 that the DC statehood movement was not interested in partnering with rural Oregon to help them get through the US Senate, perhaps because they believe their donors are only interested in adding Democrats to the US Senate. But is the Oregon Legislature interested?

We know that, if not paired with DC or Puerto Rican statehood, the Oregon Legislature would not want to allow eastern Oregon to add 2 Republicans to the US Senate, so we are offering the Greater Idaho proposal, which would cause eastern Oregon to share Idaho’s senators.

A top-rated pollster polled 1068 voters of northwestern Oregon in January 2022 and found that only 3% think that having eastern & southern Oregon in their state is worth the cost.

Here is a list of reasons for western Oregonians to let eastern Oregon go:

1. SAVE MONEY: The average wage earner in northwestern Oregon spends $690 in taxes to subsidize southern and eastern Oregon every year, according to an economic analysis funded by the Claremont Institute. Are you willing to keep paying that, just so that Oregon looks big on a map?

As long as Oregon relies on income taxes, the state is going to be subsidized by high-income areas like Portland. Oregon’s state government is not funded by property taxes.  As far as the state budget is concerned, people and their incomes matter – not land area.

2. END THE GRIDLOCK in the Legislature: Without these counties, Republicans in the Oregon Legislature would no longer have the numbers to deny quorum by walking out or slow the legislature by forcing bills to be read in full. Democrats would keep the supermajority needed to pass financial laws. Oregon would make progress, becoming more liberal than Washington state, although not as liberal as New York or California.

3. Conservatives of western Oregon get the opportunity to move to a red state and still live within driving distance of their family in western Oregon.

4. SELF-DETERMINATION: Moving the border allows each side of the state to get the kind of governance that is desired by the majority of its own residents. Oregon would no longer hold eastern Oregon captive against its will, and eastern Oregon votes would no longer affect Oregon elections.

5. NOT A LOSS: Only 3% of eastern Oregon is state-owned land – it’s almost all federal or private land. The state government’s assets and liabilities would be divided fairly on a per-capita basis.
No Republicans would be added to the US Senate or US House by this change. The effect on the electoral college would only be half an elector out of 538, or less than 0.1%. And since Idaho is already going to gain another US House seat in 2032 with or without eastern Oregon, the Republican seat that Oregon loses could be picked up by a blue state or a red state, meaning a 50% chance that Greater Idaho helps the Democrats in the US House and a 50% chance of not affecting the US House balance.

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