The 20 counties east of the Cascades would become the state of “Liberty;” 19 on the west side would remain as the state of Washington. The border between the states would be the western boundaries of Okanogan, Chelan, Kittitas, Yakima and Klickitat counties.
“Since statehood, the lifestyles, culture and economies of Eastern and Western Washington have been very distinct and dramatically different,” the joint resolution says. “… The urbanization and rapid growth of the western portions of the state has progressively heightened this divergence of cultural and economic values.”
Federal law allows creation of new states with approval from existing legislatures with jurisdiction over affected areas. So the measure would have to pass the House, Senate and be signed by Governor Jay Inslee first.
This is the third year that Shea and McCaslin have introduced the same state-splitting measure. But the effort to divide what is today Washington state has been ongoing since at least 1901.
In the early 2000s, the late Sen. Bob Morton of Orient carried the Eastern Washington independence mantle. During his tenure in Olympia, Morton introduced a joint memorial asking President George W. Bush to create a new state, often calling the division “common sense.” Similar efforts occurred in 1999, 1996 and 1985. Legislative efforts can be traced back to 1915, by media accounts.
There were efforts to create the state of “Columbia” here in the 1980s. And there were efforts to create the state of “Lincoln” out of Eastern Washington, Eastern Oregon and North Idaho dating back to at least 1901.