Politics Blog

Legislators say Eastern Washington should secede from state

Five Republican legislators have introduced a bill that would split Washington state down the Cascades, forming the 51st state in the process.

They’re not the first to bring up the idea, and they might not be the last, as attempts to split Eastern and Western Washington into two states with more homogenous political and cultural points of view have failed before.

House Bill 1818 would create a legislative task force to figure out where boundary lines should be drawn to create two distinct states.

The bill states that, “since statehood, the lifestyles, culture, and economies of eastern and western Washington have been very distinct. Urbanization and rapid growth in the western portion of Washington state have progressively heightened this divergence of cultural and economic values from that of the eastern portion of the state.”

The Tri-City Herald, (one of our sister papers), reports that one of the bill’s co-sponsors, Rep. Larry Haler of Richland, admits the bill isn’t likely to go anywhere, but signed on so the issue would go on the record.

“ ‘I’ve heard people from our side of the state say, “Why can’t we do it?” ’ Haler told the Tri-City Herald. ‘I’m just responding to my constituents’ interests.’

Haler has grown frustrated with overspending and lack of reform by state agencies such as the Department of Transportation and Department of Social and Health Services, he said. He hopes that the bill will make the state look more seriously at issues important to Eastern Washington.

‘We are trying to say let’s have a dialogue about it,’ Haler said. ‘This is one way to get their attention and say, “We want to talk.” ’ ”

What do you think?