Some in Weld County asking to secede from Colorado to join Wyoming

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WELD COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — If you live in Weld County, you may soon be asked if you want to live in Wyoming instead. 

According to the political committee “Weld County Wyoming,” the question is part of a new push to get a measure on the November ballot that would “instruct Weld County Commissioners to engage and explore the annexation of Weld County with the State of Wyoming’s Legislature.”

“Can this be done? Yes, it can be done. Is it going to be easy? No,” Christopher “Todd” Richards said during a meeting posted to YouTube in November. 

According to Colorado’s campaign finance disclosure website, Richards registered Weld County Wyoming in February 2020. He said during the meeting posted to YouTube that he got the idea in 2019 after reading an op-ed in the Denver Post and began pursuing the idea through a Facebook page soon after. 

“We’re going to move a county to a different state,” he explained during the meeting. “We’re not really moving. We’re just moving a line.”

The idea is to re-draw the state lines to exclude Weld County from Colorado and include it within Wyoming’s borders instead. 

“Specifically for those of us who live in Weld County, we live in a state who is no longer a minister to us for good,” a pastor at the meeting posted to YouTube said. “The state of Colorado is at war with three major economic drivers for Weld County: small businesses, agriculture, and oil and gas.”

With a population of more than 324,000 people and growing, not everyone in Weld County agrees with the the idea to “move.”

“I absolutely love living in Colorado. For those that don’t love living here, there are certainly less ridiculous ways of moving to Wyoming,” Greeley City Council member Tommy Butler told FOX31. 

If Weld County joined Wyoming, the state’s population would increase by more than 50%; its current population is about 579,000.

FOX31 reached out to city leaders in several cities across Weld County as well as the county commissioners. 

Erie Mayor Jennifer Carroll said in a statement:

“There are a lot of consideration(s) for Weld County voters if they want to secede to Wyoming: income tax, personal property tax, corporate state income tax, retirement income tax, gas tax, severance taxes on oil and gas, and water rights to name a few. If Weld County residents approve the ballot question, the Colorado legislature has to approve it, the Wyoming legislature has to approve it, and it’s possible both Colorado voters and Congress will need to approve it as well.

As the Mayor of Erie, I respect the process and the cornerstone of voting.  Ultimately, the people will choose the outcome. In my role, I can help residents discover the risks and benefits of such a measure. This measure will undoubtedly require a great deal of pre-education for voters.”

A similar idea was proposed in 2013 under the failed “51st State Initiative,” which attempted to form a new state with several northern Colorado counties. It passed in five of the 11 Colorado counties where it appeared on the ballot. 

The state of California has seen more than 200 failed attempts to break apart. However, last year, voters in two Oregon counties passed ballot measures requiring county officials to explore the idea of joining Idaho instead.

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