For too long, Sacramento has ignored Rural California, enacting policies that are out-of-step with the values of those living north of the State Capitol.
Fed-up North State residents have been loudly pushing a proposal to break the state in two. If the organizers have their way, 21 counties would leave California to form a new 51st state – the State of Jefferson. This is separate from the “Calexit” movement by the left to secede California from the Union in response to Donald Trump.
A few years back, I had the opportunity to hear a State of Jefferson organizer speak in Redding. His main argument was that there are too many Highway Patrol officers pulling over speeding motorists. This injustice, he assured us, would be corrected in the new State of Jefferson. Advancing this as a main selling point, it’s no surprise that the movement hasn’t gained statewide support.
But they have a point – Rural California is routinely drowned out by San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Assemblyman James Gallagher has an idea to address this under-representation while keeping the Golden State intact. His ACA 16 would change how State Senate districts are apportioned from 40 districts divided by population to eight geographic regions comprised of 5 representatives each.
“We’ve set it up to where there is a tyranny of the majority, and in California, it is a tyranny mostly of a coastal, elite majority that gets to impose its will on the rest of the state,” Gallagher told me on the new PRI “Another Round” Podcast. His approach is modeled after Congress, where one house is based on population and one based on equal representation.
“If you look at California, it almost is like 8 states – different interests, different cultures, different micro-economies,” he said. His proposal really would make Sacramento more reflective of all Californians.
To be sure, his proposal faces a tough road. If enacted, it will surely face legal challenges, given the Supreme Court’s 1964 ruling striking down California’s apportionment based on one person-one vote. But it is an intriguing idea that should start a long-overdue conversation about how lawmakers better represent all of California’s diverse communities.
Tim Anaya is Communications Director for Pacific Research Institute.