Time for Amputation: NoVa Merging with “New D.C.”

D.C. Statehood. There has been a long running chorus of cries for D.C. residents to have full representation in Congress. From “Taxation Without Representation” slogans on D.C. license plates to the Biden Administration’s calls for DC to become the 51st state … this debate has gone on for a while. Most discussion devolves into pure politics. D.C. would bring two more liberal U.S. senators and a liberal U.S. Representative who can vote. People either love or hate that idea. Back in May I wrote a column on this blog about Northern Virginia joining D.C. in the 51st state.  In this column I’d like to put aside the politics and focus on the ethical considerations for making D.C. a state.

Because they’re Americans. The nearly 700,000 residents of Washington,  D.C., pay their full share of federal taxes. Residents of D.C. were subject to be drafted in times of war, fought and died in our country’s battles and are required to obey all laws passed by Congress. In other words, D.C. residents have all the responsibilities of American citizenship. However, they are not represented in the U.S. Congress. They have no senators and their one representative can’t vote. The biggest ethical reason to make D.C. a state is so its citizens have all the rights of being American, including the right to representation in Congress.

The right to succeed. If one believes that statehood would provide the remedy to disenfranchisement of D.C. residents the next question is how that state should be formed. D.C. is not a state.  In fact, it’s not much of a city. At 68 square miles it doesn’t even make the list of America’s 150 largest cities. From Riverside, Calif., to Caribou, Maine, America has more geographically substantial cities than D.C. Is it ethical to make a large neighborhood into a state and hope for the best? I say no. If D.C .is to become a state it needs enough heft to be a real state rather than a jurisdictional oddity sandwiched between Maryland and Virginia. At the least, the new state of D.C. should comprise the existing Washington Metropolitan area. That area, also known as the National Capital Area contains D.C., the Maryland suburbs, Northern Virginia and one county in West Virginia. The National Capital Area is spread over 6,564 square miles and has a population of 6.3 million. Now that would be a real state.

The will of the people of New D.C. Any question of ethics needs to include the question of whether people living outside of D.C. want to be included in the new state. If 90% of the people in Calvert County, Md., would rather stay in Maryland than join the new state of D.C. it would be hard to ethically force them into New D.C. However, there are a lot of benefits to joining New D.C., including the fact that it would easily be America’s richest state. Who knows what the good people of Calvert County might decide. But most of all — it should ethically be their right to decide.

A unique situation. D.C. statehood is unique in that D.C. is specifically defined in the U.S. Constitution as not being in any of the particular states. It seems to me that the U.S. Constitution would need to be amended for D.C. to become a state. If so, how should that amendment work? Should the residents (or legislators) of Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia residing outside of the National Capital Area be allowed to vote? I say no. If the residents of Fairfax County want to be part of the New D.C. why should somebody from Richmond be able to stop them from their pursuit of happiness? The constitutional amendment needed to make D.C. a state should call for a one-time vote by residents of the National Capital Area and nobody else.

The great debate. Most people believe that a majority of citizens inside the National Capital Area but outside D.C. would vote “no” on joining New D.C.  I think this is shortsighted. The initial, knee-jerk reaction might well be somewhere between “no” and “hell no.” However, the proponents of New D.C. would start selling the idea of New D.C. to the impacted citizens. A new state constitution using the wealth of New D.C. to provide free college education to its residents might turn some heads. Local autonomy instead of Dillon’s Rule tyranny from Richmond might be very well received in Northern Virginia. Taxes raised for transportation in Montgomery County, Md., actually being spent on transportation in Montgomery County could be very attractive to the 1+ million residents of that jurisdiction. For once, the politicians would have to sell the idea of New DC., including its governance and revenue model, to the citizens it hopes to attract. Who knows — the political elites in Richmond and Annapolis might actually have to sharpen their pencils and promise changes that would keep the localities in their existing states. Imagine that — politicians being forced to listen to the electorate and act in the electorate’s best interests.

Just watching the Byrd Machine throwbacks in Richmond wet their pants as they contemplate the loss of taxes from Northern Virginia would be worth the price of admittance to this show.

== by Don Rippert. 


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52 responses to “Time for Amputation: NoVa Merging with “New D.C.””

  1. Brian Leeper Avatar
    Brian Leeper

    “Is it ethical to make a large neighborhood into a state and hope for the best?”

    Manassas Park was a subdivision they made into a city and you can see how well that has worked out….

    1. DJRippert Avatar
      DJRippert

      Exactly my point. There’s a certain sustainable scale to things an 68 sq mi does not a state make.

  2. LarrytheG Avatar
    LarrytheG

    DJ’s “idea” is just this side of No WAY Jose! I think some of this idea is DJ’s dislike of Richmond, the clown show/plantation elite and Dillion.

    But I have to say, Maryland appears to me to have a lot of top-down state rules also – like on the schools. Northam delegated to the schools on Covid and Md was top-down.

    At any rate – I feel it’s a borderline cockamamie idea that if it went forward, it would open up the flood gates all kinds of other wacky proposals from the political crazies running amok these days with the Trump crowd leading the way!

    1. DJRippert Avatar
      DJRippert

      Maryland’s version of home rule is best understood by the fact that there is a county income tax. The rate is set by the county and rural counties set their rate lower than urban counties. The rural counties also spend less and provide fewer services.

      Gov Hogan didn’t issue top down orders to schools. He prohibited counties from taking county-wide action to close all schools, public and private. Hogan’s order made the schools responsible for the decision.

      https://www.baltimoresun.com/coronavirus/bs-md-hogan-schools-order-20200803-v3clsgss6fgo3d4t2qagepngsa-story.html

      As far as my idea being far fetched … probably so. However, I would have lost a lot of money in 2000 betting against there ever being a day when Donald Trump was president of the United States.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar
        LarrytheG

        this happened earlier: MAR 13, 2020

        ” Maryland’s public schools will close Monday for the next two weeks, state officials announced Thursday, a day when efforts to halt the spread of the new coronavirus took on added urgency and promised to upend daily life.

        The extraordinary closing of the state’s schools, which will send about 1 million children home and create ripple effects as parents scramble to find alternative care and adjust their work schedules, are part of a sweeping set of directives from Gov. Larry Hogan”

        If Northam had done such a thing – all hell would have broken loose and epitaphs of “blackface” , King Northam and worse would have flown.

        On Dillion itself. All states control top down on some issues like courts, state police, DEQ , etc.. but some states allow “home rule” on other things like local taxes. Even Virginia allows that on a local referenda basis…

        1. DJRippert Avatar
          DJRippert

          The degree to which Dillon’s Rule is implemented by states is a spectrum. No state is totally Dillon’s Rule or the localities would have no power at all. No state is totally home rule or the state would have no power.

          The question is how much home rule should be granted. I maintain that too little power is vested in the localities by the state.

  3. The New DC Supreme Court may well adopt Dillon’s Rule, like 39 other state supreme courts have. Then there’s the other constitutional issue here- local governments aren’t mentioned in the United States Constitution and are creatures of the state.

    1. DJRippert Avatar
      DJRippert

      Dillon’s Rule is not well understood.

      It all started as a judicial ruling by Judge Dillon of Iowa. He correctly found that local governments have no power from the US Constitution. He ruled that localities can only be empowered by the state government.

      Fine and dandy.

      A lot of states (including Dillon’s own state of Iowa) have amended their state constitutions to overtly give localities power. Some give more power to localities, some give less. Virginia is on the “give less” side of the ledger.

      I think a new state like New DC would have to grant local autonomy if they wanted people in various counties to vote to join them. Keeping Calvert County rural would be a prerequisite for getting the residents to vote for inclusion in New DC for example.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar
        LarrytheG

        Some things need to be controlled by the State IMHO. For instance, courts, criminal law, environmental regulation, insurance, labor law, health regulations, etc, etc…

        I’m not really sure just what is so restrictive in Va compared to say Md.

  4. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
    Dick Hall-Sizemore

    The ethics of the issue are beyond debate. The Census Bureau’s 2020 estimate of the population of D.C. was 712,816. Its population was larger than Wyoming and Vermont and Alaska and North Dakota were only slightly larger.

    There is another solution that may not require a Constitutional amendment. The Constitution describes the national seat of government as “such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States.” Congress could amend the statue that set up the District to shrink the seat of government to include only that area between the Capitol Building and the White House and, perhaps wide enough to include most existing government buildings. The rest of what is now the District would be ceded to Maryland. The residents of the District would not get their own government, but they would be represented by a Representative and two Senators, for whom they could vote.

    1. John Harvie Avatar
      John Harvie

      This is a slippery slope for GOP.

      Next you’ll have Puerto Rico, Guam, misc. islands all clamoring more loudly than now for inclusion as states. Likely very pink politically I surmise.

      No one is forced to live in D.C. Anyone to whom the present arrangement is totally abhorrent can move out.

      1. DJRippert Avatar
        DJRippert

        I think DC is unique. The other territories would follow the same path that was established for most states. There is little procedurally that the GOP or anybody else can do to stop Puerto Rico from becoming a state other than vote against it in Congress. DC has no clear path to statehood. In fact, it seems barred from statehood by the US Constitution. But you are right – it is unlikely that any new states would be conservative or Republican.

        One should remember 1959 when the last two states were admitted. Conventional wisdom held that Hawaii would be very conservative and Alaska would be very liberal so they would cancel each other out. They did cancel each other out but in the exact opposite manner predicted.

    2. I like this solution. In my opinion, the District which serves as the Seat of the Government of the United States should have no permanent residents and no temporary residents apart from the president and his family.

      1. DJRippert Avatar
        DJRippert

        That’s a riff on Dick’s idea described above. You can shrink DC but then you still have to do something with the people who were living in the 2021 DC before it shrank. Most people say “give ’em to Maryland”. While there is some logic in that … I’m not sure Maryland wants them.

    3. DJRippert Avatar
      DJRippert

      Ceding DC to Maryland is the obvious political answer. However, I believe that both the residents of existing DC and all of Maryland would have to agree. At least I think that’s what should happen.

  5. William O'Keefe Avatar
    William O’Keefe

    In principle, I think that Dick Hall-Sizemore has the right approach if the idea of DC statehood is to be taken seriously. But then what about Puerto Rico? Why not have a referendum where Puerto Ricans can choose between becoming a state and a free standing nation?
    Maryland hasn’t expressed a view on whether it wants to regain territory that it ceded to create DC. What if it has no interest?
    Residents of DC choose to live there knowing that they lack two senators and a full fledged representative. If they want that representation, they can move.

    1. Dick Hall-Sizemore Avatar
      Dick Hall-Sizemore

      Puerto Rico should be granted statehood. It being a state makes as much sense, if not more, than Hawaii and Alaska being states. It is much closer to the mainland than Hawaii and only 500 miles more distant than Alaska (and that is if you measure from the southernmost, almost uninhabited tip of Alaska). It has more than twice the population of Hawaii and almost four times the population of Alaska. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, pay federal payroll taxes, and some pay federal income taxes.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar
        LarrytheG

        I agree. It’s time.

      2. DJRippert Avatar
        DJRippert

        DC would clearly elect liberals to Congress. I’m not so sure about Puerto Rico. Bush called for Puerto Rican statehood in a state of the union address and statehood for Puerto Rico was a plank of the Republican Party for years.

        Why?

        Because of people like this …

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jenniffer_Gonz%C3%A1lez

        1. LarrytheG Avatar
          LarrytheG

          re: ” a plank of the Republican Party for years.” The GOP today is nothing like the GOP a few years back. Totally different party.

          1. DJRippert Avatar
            DJRippert

            The Dems have a majority in Congress (assuming the VP votes with them in a tie). As far as I know it only takes a majority to admit a territory as a state. Puerto Rico already voted to become a state. Any delay now is a Democratic Party problem, no?

          2. LarrytheG Avatar
            LarrytheG

            I think you need 60 votes. The point is that it’s largely the GOP that is opposed. Most if not al the Dems would probably support.

            Just trying to keep the facts in front. Dems largely support and the GOP largely opposes.

            Someone was talking about “regular order”. Regular order would bring this up for a vote, and people on the record. No?

    2. DJRippert Avatar
      DJRippert

      Telling Americans to move in order to get representation in the federal government seems heavy handed to me.

      The path for Puerto Rico to become a state is clear. Or at least more clear than DC. Puerto Ricans have voted three times in a row to become a state. The question is whether the US Congress will vote to accept Puerto Rico.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar
        LarrytheG

        If the Dems had a strong majority in Congress, Puerto Rico would be a state.

        1. DJRippert Avatar
          DJRippert

          Why doesn’t a weak majority work?

      2. William O'Keefe Avatar
        William O’Keefe

        No one is telling anyone to move. DC residents knew what they had and what they didn’t. If having two senators and a real representative is now a higher priority, they can move to Virginia or Maryland. That is free choice.

        1. LarrytheG Avatar
          LarrytheG

          Seems like if they are US Citizens living in the USA or it’s territory they are entitled to the same rights as other citizens.

          Equal Protection and all.

          1. William O'Keefe Avatar
            William O’Keefe

            Larry, do some research on the origin of DC. It is a federal district; not a state. People make trade-offs and in this case it is to live close to the federal government in exchange for not having two senators, a representative, and the right to vote for them. If you have a beef, take it up with the Founding Fathers and the Constitution.

          2. LarrytheG Avatar
            LarrytheG

            If you are going to pay taxes to the Federal govt and be subject to it’s laws then you should be entitled to representation – Founding Fathers not withstanding of which I’m not convinced they intended for some citizens to not have the vote.

            I just think it’s in violation of the rest of the Constitution myself.

            Not that we know the Constitution has never contradicted itself! 😉

          3. William O'Keefe Avatar
            William O’Keefe

            Your comment would be better informed if you studied the history of that particular provision.

          4. LarrytheG Avatar
            LarrytheG

            It’s not just my comment… right?

            And we do make changes when we decide something is unfair and wrong in the Constitution.

            The “defense” for Constitutional wrongs is that it’s in the Constitution, therefore it’s not changeable?

            The Founding Fathers got quite a few things wrong – history proves it.

  6. “If so, how should that amendment work? Should the residents (or legislators) of Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia residing outside of the National Capital Area be allowed to vote?”

    Disenfranchising the voters and legislators of MD, VA and WV would also require a Constitutional amendment -one which I am pretty sure would not pass.

    1. DJRippert Avatar
      DJRippert

      Yes it would. In my imagination the amendment to make DC a state would also allow for a one time vote by the affected citizens without a vote by the legislatures in Va, WV and Md.

      I’m not sure that Congress or legislatures in the other 47 states really care about disenfranchising the Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland legislatures.

      1. “I’m not sure that Congress or legislatures in the other 47 states really care about disenfranchising the Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland legislatures.”

        If they’ve got any brains the legislatures of the other states will care. If it can happen to one state on one issue it can happen to another state on another issues. The type of action you are describing is the antithesis of the way a constitutional republic must be run.

  7. Super Brain Avatar
    Super Brain

    This article was brain flatulence.

    1. DJRippert Avatar
      DJRippert

      You are a coward who won’t use his or her real name to post comments. I always find it humorous that chickenshit wimps like you use nicknames like “Super Brain”.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar
        LarrytheG

        geeze DJ. hit a nerve?

        1. DJRippert Avatar
          DJRippert

          Constructive criticism is welcome. Random insults are not. “Eric the Half Troll” is an anonymous leftist poster. However, his comments are constructive and he has the good humor to poke fun at himself with his nickname. In the future I will simply delete useless comments from anonymous trolls on my articles.

          1. Super Brain Avatar
            Super Brain

            Should have used no probative value.

          2. LarrytheG Avatar
            LarrytheG

            Man, I wish I had the power to delete random insults! 😉

          3. Matt Adams Avatar
            Matt Adams

            It’s “Eric the Half a Troll” it’s a Lord of the Rings reference.

          4. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            Half a troll, philosophically,
            Must, ipso facto, half not…

            No that doesn’t work… alas…

          5. Matt Adams Avatar
            Matt Adams

            None of what you just said is coherent or value. I was saying your clever, you just indicated you weren’t as clever as I was giving you credit for.

            Things you’d know if you only had a brain.

          6. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            Good god, man, it’s from Monty Python.

            “ Half a bee, philosophically,
            Must, ipso facto, half not be.”

            See Eric the Half a Bee

          7. Eric the half a troll Avatar
            Eric the half a troll

            “However, his comments are constructive…”

            You know the old “blind squirrel” saying….

      2. Super Brain Avatar
        Super Brain

        I was a Marine officer and I had parents parents that taught me not to use gutter language.

  8. Super Brain Avatar
    Super Brain

    Changing states would be onerous for individuals and commerce. Would will, trusts, and LLC’s be valid? Insurance policies would have to be renewed in a new state. What about people in prison and parole? What happens with State debt and infrastructure?

    1. Those are all fair points. Breaking up a state might and divvying up assets and liabilities well be an insoluble challenge.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar
        LarrytheG

        Would be much simpler to just provide DC citizens representation and vote.

        1. Super Brain Avatar
          Super Brain

          They would have to write a constitution and a related set of statues. Might not be enough lobbyists in the world.

      2. Super Brain Avatar
        Super Brain

        Well stated. Could really hurt down state political sub divisions with certain types of bond issues that would deal with reduced or different revenue flows.
        Virginia’s gov’t has never been what the Byrd’s D’s or R’s have implied. DJ is spot on on the Dillion rule. But a new state may be worse.

  9. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead

    As Virginia’s Senator, Mr. Byrd took great delight in the budget process of taxes and spending. He spoiled a lot of parties.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fbf91ebf73678971744eb25d7a98a34af020556eeb6813b5d075b9a0c2d4f2f8.jpg

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