California secession finds unlikely ally in Utah conservative

Statehouse Republican says secession is a long shot but hopes his bill in support of the move would act as ”a wake up call from the state of Utah.”

Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, addresses a committee hearing Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, at the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake City. Ray has started drafting a bill for the 2018 legislative session that would offer support for proposals for California to secede from the union. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

As some Californians push for their state to become its own country, they have an unlikely ally: Utah Rep. Paul Ray.

Ray, a conservative Republican from Clearfield — spurred by frustration over California’s liberal politics and the “whining” of some of its residents about wanting to leave the United States — has started drafting a resolution for the 2018 legislative session that would offer support for the most populous state to secede from the union.

“This is just kind of a wake-up call from the state of Utah that says, ‘You know what? You guys don’t get it,’” Ray said. “They don’t control other states and, quite honestly, most of us don’t really care for their politics.”

Ray said he’s still drafting language for the measure, which would recommend tariffs on California, if it became its own country, for the energy and water it uses that come from Utah, the 31st most populous state.

“They‘re smoking too much of their medical marijuana.”<br>— Rep. Paul Ray

“They think that they’re owed a lot and they just think they’ve got the power to dictate, but if they really look at it, they can’t function without federal money going into California and doing business with other states,” he said. “For them to sit there and think they can make their own country and they can do this ... they’re smoking too much of their medical marijuana.”

Ray said he hasn’t spoken with other legislators about the proposal yet.

“I typically don’t see if anybody wants to co-sponsor or what their support is until I get it drafted so I can show them a copy,” he said, which he estimated wouldn’t be until October or November. The annual legislative session starts in January.

But if the reaction from Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, is any indication, the resolution will have a hard time receiving serious consideration.

King, the House minority leader, started laughing when told of the proposal.

Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, speaks as the Utah House debates the Prison Relocation Commission's recommendation to build a new correctional facility in Salt Lake City before voting to approve it, in Salt Lake City, Wednesday August 19, 2015.

“It’s not my job as a state legislator in Utah to call on other states to secede from the union,” he said, still chuckling. “We fought a war over 150 years ago addressing situations where we call on states not to secede from the union, so it strikes me as funny that anyone would think it’s appropriate that we, in light of our history, call on a state to secede. That’s amusing.”

Ray said the likelihood of California seceding is a “long shot,” but groups in favor of the move have been making gains recently to put such a question to voters.

The state’s attorney general released an official title and summary for the “California Autonomy From Federal Government” initiative on July 25, which would direct the state’s governor to negotiate more autonomy from the federal government in order to become an autonomous, sovereign nation, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Supporters of the initiative had 180 days from then to gather nearly 600,000 valid signatures to get the proposal on the 2018 ballot.

Shankar Singam, the vice president of the California Freedom Coalition, said in an appearance Tuesday on Fox News’s Tucker Carlson Tonight that the state wants to secede because it is already so different from its counterparts.

“We’re fundamentally different in the way we act, we speak, and how we think about the world globally, whether it has to do with war, the climate [or the] environment,” Singam said.

“We’re going to do things that are going to be beneficial for our state and we disregard what the United States think or even their laws,” he added. “For example, our marijuana [and] sanctuary cities. If it’s good for the state, we’re going to do it — regardless of what the federal law is.”


Twitter: @tstevens95