Four Candidates to Become the 51st State of the Union
||Monday, December 13, 2010
It has been over 50 years since the United States last added a state the union, the longest such span in the history of the United States. In order for the 51st state to happen requirements must be met
before the constitutionally-required act of Congress to make it official.
First, a state-like government must be set up. If any parts of states already established wish to become a state on their own, the state legislature with jurisdiction over those areas must first approve.
There are a few likely candidates for certain territories to become the 51st state for various reasons. Here is a the breakdown of four likely candidates to become the next star on the flag of the United States
The issue of Puerto Rico's statehood comes up every couple of years around election time. The last time a referendum was held in 2009, USA Today reports 46.5 percent of voters wanted statehood while 2.5 percent wanted independence and 50 percent "none of the above." Puerto Rico has around four million people, more than half of the current states according to InfoPlease.
Earlier in 2010, the U.S. House took up the "Puerto Rico Democracy Act" which provided a means for which Puerto Rican citizens can achieve statehood. The Caribbean island became a part of the United States after the Spanish-American War in 1898 and has had a civilian governor since 1900.
Washington, D.C. exists as an independent entity in between Virginia and Maryland along the banks of the Potomac River. Nearly 70 square miles and a population of 600,000, Washington D.C.'s strongest advocates for full voting rights include the current mayor according to the Washington Post.
The organization D.C. Vote is the strongest support network for giving Washington, D.C. a full representative to Congress. At issue is the residents of the District of Columbia are taxed for Federal income taxes but have no voting representative to Congress. Residents of other U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands currently pay no Federal taxes in a report filed by NBC Washington.
Long Island is larger than 19 states and has a population greater than 35 other states. Even if Long Island breaks away from upstate New York it will still leave the land-based state with a population of 12 million people.
As recent as 2008, Suffolk County Comptroller Joseph Sawicki was formally lobbying the state to take up the measure. One statistic he quoted was local residents paid $8.1 billion in taxes but only got $5.2 billion in return from the statehouse in Albany in 2004.
The state of Jefferson was first seriously proposed in November 1941 by the logging industry in northern California and southern Oregon. When Pearl Harbor happened in early December the movement quickly faded.
Still, as American Journalism Review reports there is an air of independence in the region. Southern Oregon University in Oregon boasts three public radio stations, one of which hosts a show called the Jefferson Exchange where local politicians and news is featured. The stations are part of Jefferson Public Radio, the largest regional broadcaster of public radio stations in the country.
Home to about 700,000 people, Jefferson is alive and well in the hearts and names of the region's media even if statehood isn't forefront on people's minds. Should Jefferson become a state, both the Oregon and California legislatures would have to approve.
Whether a new state forms in the Caribbean or the Pacific northwest, statehood movements can have serious voting potential or just be a name on a radio station. Either way, contemporary and historical examples provide us with a template for statehood movements in modern America.