Instead of jumping on the secession bandwagon and supporting a 51st state, Grand County commissioners opted instead to push for more rural representation, supported by voters during last November’s election. Now, it appears that initiative is gaining some momentum.
On Wednesday April 10, Grand County Commissioner Merrit Linke joined about 20 other rural county representatives as House Bill HCR-1001 was heard in the State Affairs Committee. The bill would reorganize the state house so that it consists of one district per county in the state, meaning each county gets equal house representation. Currently, both the senate and the house of representatives are made up of elected officials from state districts with comparable populations. Those districts are redrawn every 10 years with new U.S. Census data.
“It is moving forward, and gaining more momentum than people thought,” Linke said.
Still, it’s unlikely the bill will pass. It only has one sponsor so far, Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg from District 65 and Logan County. The bill also violates a 1964 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that all state legislature district must have equal populations, based on the principle of “one person one vote.” According to Linke, however, the proposal has already been productive by publicizing rural concerns.
“It may die, but I think the point is many rural counties feel they don’t have a voice,” he said.