In the western United States, a movement to make most of the state of Oregon secede and join neighboring Idaho is gaining support from politicians in both states.
As reported by Fox News, the “Greater Idaho” movement is a proposal to have roughly 13 counties from the state of Oregon secede and instead become part of Idaho. The counties in question, all located in the east of Oregon state, account for 63 percent of the state’s geographical size but only about 9 percent of the population. While these areas overwhelmingly vote for Republicans in gubernatorial and presidential elections, the overwhelmingly Democratic areas of Portland and the western coast of the state outnumber the more rural areas.
“Idaho would have the satisfaction of freeing rural, conservative communities from progressive blue-state law,” said Mark Simmons (R-Ore.), former Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives, in an op-ed over the weekend voicing his support for the movement. “We are dismayed by the manner in which the Oregon government has marginalized our values and villainized our resource-based livelihoods. This is why our counties voted 75% Republican last year (Idaho voted 67% Republican).”
Simmons pointed to one particularly harmful state law passed by Oregon which reduced the maximum punishment for people found to be in possession of drugs. As a result, drug distribution has increased significantly, including in the areas that border Idaho, thus causing the drug problem to spread to the neighboring state as well. If Idaho were to absorb the rural counties of Oregon, the expansion of its borders would force the drug problem further away from the state’s residents.
“These counties would help maintain rural values in the Idaho Legislature, values of faith, family, and self-reliance,” Simmons continued. “All of eastern Oregon voted against marijuana legalization and the decriminalization of hard drugs.”
Earlier this month, the Idaho House of Representatives passed a resolution calling for formal talks between the two states’ legislatures to discuss a possible changing of the states’ borders. Thus far, 11 counties in Oregon have voted in favor of ballot measures that support joining “Greater Idaho” in some capacity. In Idaho, polling has shown that most residents would support an expansion of the state’s territory with former Oregon counties, whereas polling in Oregon shows the population divided roughly down the middle between supporting and opposing the movement.