Liberty state enters second phase

RaeLynn Ricarte
Staff Writer

The Liberty State movement is entering its second phase, which means it's time to get elected local, state and federal officials to commit support, said spokesperson Rene Holladay.
“This grassroots outreach has been so encouraging, so exciting,” she said of the recruitment and educational work done in 2018.
The movement seeks to divide Washington at the Cascade Range, with 20 counties on the east side forming Liberty State.
She said the movement to split Washington has been going on for more than a decade, but growing civil unrest over rural voters having no voice in political issues that are an affront to their belief system means people are ready for change.
“We are looking forward to bringing on the elected officials, we want them involved,” said Holladay of the plan for 2019.
In mid-December, she held a volunteer recruitment meeting in Colville. She told the audience at the Stevens County Sheriff's ambulance building that the work being done to carve out a new state was methodical and thorough to be sure all bases were covered.
“We spent the year establishing structure and a volunteer framework in each county,” she said,
Holladay expected a high level of support from Stevens County, where the largest fundraiser, to date, was held in early 2018. She said 350 people attended that event and contributed $5,000 toward the cause.
Although she approached the Stevens County Commission to sign a resolution – a philosophical statement – in support of Liberty State last year, Holladay said the request was shelved until 2019 because the movement had not yet caught up with the enthusiasm and all questions could not be addressed.
She said “some of the great minds of the world” have been tapped to help draft a constitution for the new state, which will soon be finalized and released for review. She said an internationally-recognized economist was also working up a budget to show how government services would be paid for without imposing a property tax on east side landowners.
She encouraged people to buy the Liberty State flag and fly it at home, in front of businesses, or from their vehicles.
“We have largely been met with overwhelming enthusiasm,” said Holladay. “We get a lot of responses like, 'We needed this done yesterday – people are excited.'”
Liberty State organizers believe it is easier to divide the state than to fix it because the largely liberal urban centers have inflicted so many regulations and laws upon the more conservative east side that there is a “slim to none” chance of rolling even one of them back.
Educating citizens about what the movement is and isn't is now vitally important because there is a lot of misinformation being circulated by opponents, to stop its growth, said Holladay.
She said the concept is simple: People in three counties of western Washington are deciding ballot issues and pushing political agendas that violate the core values of the majority of counties.
“That tiny little spot of blue wipes out our unified vote,” said Holladay.“The two sides of this state don't think the same – wouldn't it be nice to get what we voted for?”
She said the recent passage of Initiative 1639, a gun control measure, has brought a lot of Second Amendment supporters onboard the movement.
“People are asking now, 'Is this really happening? Yes, it's happening,” said Holladay.
In TV polls, she said an average of 74 percent of respondents from the east side support a division of the state, which Holladay saw as a hopeful sign.
One of the untruths being told about Liberty State, she said, is that it will be almost impossible to navigate the process to carve out a new state.
In reality, Holladay said the division requires only a simple majority vote of the Legislature, and a simple majority support of Congress.
“It is written into the (state) Constitution that we can legally divide the state,” she said.
She said there is not only historical precedent – the last split was West Virginia from Virginia in 1863 – but the timing is good with Congress already looking to give statehood to Puerto Rico, Guam and the Marianas islands.
“We can say, 'Add us into the mix.' We've already got the approved vote,” she said.
The other myth that opponents circulate, said Holladay, is that the economy of Eastern Washington will drastically decline if the state is divided.
Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, addressed that issue in a video presentation shown by Holladay.
He said the population of Eastern Washington at 1.5 million was roughly the same size as Idaho, and so was the income, about $7.5 billion per year.
Liberty would be larger than many other Western state in population and wealth, said Shea. It would be larger than Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas.
Although opponents contend the east side of the state would be in poverty without tax revenue from the west side, Shea said that is not the reality.
“Some say we will be a welfare state – that we will take more than we raise,” he said.
Eastern Washington is primarily an agriculture area that Shea pointed out grows some of the nation's top crops, including apples, sweet corn, cherries, grapes, hops, pears and raspberries.
It would be possible, said Shea, to eliminate property taxes and still balance the budget if unnecessary spending was cut out.
“We are the most debt-free area of the state with the lowest credit risk and the least public pension liabilities,” said Shea. “What does this show? It shows that our beliefs are not based on emotion, they are based on facts.”
He said arguments that Liberty State would be landlocked and unable to exports its goods are also false given that there are Columbia and Snake river ports that link to Portland and the Pacific.
In addition, he said the rural economy will improve when excessive taxation stops and red tape that chokes economic development is cut.
However, the biggest benefit, said Shea, is that Liberty State residents will be able to live according to the Judeo-Christian values this country was founded upon.
Shea said the “separation of church and state” had been twisted by liberal courts to take faith out of the public realm. In reality, he said the U.S. Constitution as well as the state version protected the right of people to practice their religion without fear of retribution.
“That is not happening,” he said, referencing the bakers and florists who had been penalized by government agencies for refusing to provide services for gay weddings due to a religious conflict.
Adhering to Christian values would make Liberty State pro-life – no more taxpayer funding of abortions – pro-property rights, pro-gun rights, and pro all other Bill of Rights protections, said Shea.
“I don't care if we're the 51st state or the 53rd – as long as we're free,” he said. “Our government is not reflecting the heritage and traditions of Eastern Washington. The left says we should not have a voice anymore – how is that freedom?”
He said liberal leaders are refusing to take potential terrorism threats seriously or adequately prepare for an major emergency situation, said Shea.
“There is a drastic difference in world views,” he said. “We are already two different states on virtually every major issue of the day.”
For example, he said efforts were underway to ban concealed carry in Washington, which set people up to be victims in active shooter situations.
“It is armed and trained good people who stop armed bad people. That's the way it's always been, the way it will always be,” said Shea.
He said many residents of Seattle want Sharia (Islamic) law recognized in courts, which is not compatible with the rule of law – that all members of society are held to the same legal codes and processes – in America.
“I am, frankly, tired of being called an extremist because I believe in what the constitution says,” said Shea. “The government should be limited, protect our rights and stay out of our business.”
He said the west side's dismissal of the wolf threat to eastern livestock herds is a clear example of how ideological differences are playing out on the ground.
“How can they, in downtown Seattle, know what is best for us?” he asked.
He said arguments that oppose Liberty State always seem to devolve into name-calling and casting aspersions against those who live in rural areas.
“If we are such a bunch of rednecks and uneducated hillbillies in Eastern Washington, we are so sorry. If we such a burden, why not let us go,” he said sarcastically.
The headline Shea would like to see in west side newspapers is: “Why not just cut the rubes loose?”
If he and other legislators from this side of the Cascades can't get a division bill through Olympia, Shea said an initiative will be sent to the people.
“We have got to remain in the fight no matter how long it takes,” he said. “I believe this is the solution. I believe this is very doable if we just stay in the fight.”
He and Holladay invite people to get more information, or sign up to volunteer, by visiting