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Flexible State Borders

A Constitutional Amendment to make State Borders flexible
  (+8, -5)
(+8, -5)
  [vote for,

Propose an amendment to the Constitution of the United States to the effect that:

1. Any county that sits on the border of its state with another state has the right to leave its current state and come under the jurisdiction of that other state subject to the following conditions:

2. Such a move is not allowed if it would render its original state non-contiguous by land, but it would be allowed if the state of origin is contiguous by means of some body of water. [This takes into account that some states are already only contiguous by water, like Michigan and Rhode Island]

3. A county's move is deemed valid pending two votes by its populace: The first to determine by simple majority vote whether to decide to move (to be carried out in conjunction with any primary vote in that county), the second vote to ratify the move to the adjacent state, determined by a vote of 60% plus one (to be carried out by the subsequent general election to that primary vote). [This is to prevent a county from "dissolv(ing) the political bands which have connected them" for "light and transient causes", to quote the Declaration of Independence, while at the the same time allowing it to take place if enough of the county's population deems it necessary]

4. Upon approval, a county's move will take place one year (or similar period of time) prior to the last day of the next national census. [This is to allow sufficient time to account for th county's population in the new state and allow sufficient time to take the new border into account for the redistricting that takes place in each state after the release of the U.S. Census.]

5. A county's move to its new state may be negated at any time before the execution of that move by a majority vote of its populace to that effect. [This adds another layer of protection for state governments who are willing and able to redress outstanding grievances before the county officially changes its state jurisdiction.]

Since I'm not a lawyer, I know the language definitely needs cleaning up. Nevertheless, I think such a constitutional amendment could improve the accountability of state government to its constituents. If an unwelcome law is enacted by the government of a state, then that state could face a loss of its territory (and tax base, by the way) by citizens voting their county into the next state over. The converse might also be true: If a state makes laws attractive to the interests of a portion of a neighboring state, then that state could be rewarded with a gain in territory, taxes, etc.

It could also improve the accountability of the Federal government to its constituents. Our current Federalist system keeps State governments accountable to the Federal government and competitive with one another in a similar way, as people tend to "vote with their feet" and move if a state's government gets too oppressive, thereby reducing that state's representation in congress and its ability to elect a president through the Electoral College. The suggested amendment would enhance this effect, thereby also improving the accountability of the Federal government to its constituents also.

Such an amendment would modify Aticle IV, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution without violating the letter or the spirit of what that Section already states. That section prevents new states from being "formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress." This amendment would allow territory to be shifted among the states that already exist with the consent of those who live there, not create new States from States that already exist. This amendment is also sufficiently neutral to all existing states [Even Alaska and Hawaii with the "contiguous by water" clause] so that it will not "Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State."

benwisdom, Aug 02 2007

U.S. Constitution, Article IV, Section 3. http://usconstituti...t/const.html#A4Sec3
Section of Constitution referred to in this idea. [benwisdom, Aug 02 2007]

Cross posted at the Solutions Factory http://www.cantorfo...com/solutions/?p=98
[Hosted by Congressman Eric Cantor] [benwisdom, Aug 08 2007]


       Constitutional amendments are generally much more succinct.
ldischler, Aug 02 2007

       "America - The Board Game!"
wagster, Aug 02 2007

       So the move would employ dice?
If you eliminate the second section, I would like this. Imagine a New York county in the middle of Georgia!
ldischler, Aug 02 2007

       Presumably a county wouldn't be able to become par of another state if it was the only county left in its state? Or could you have a state with no counties? But (serious question) does it actually make that much difference which state you're in?
hippo, Aug 02 2007

       //Or could you have a state with no counties?//
ldischler, Aug 02 2007

       There's a joke there that I didn't get.
wagster, Aug 02 2007

       It'd be like watching a lava lamp. Fun, but impractical. There's a reason it doesn't happen often.
k_sra, Aug 02 2007

       The borders should be elastic, like the string on those paddleball things, so that citizens can stretch them around their houses and yards as they see fit.
normzone, Aug 02 2007

       "Ope, Arizona's an oblong again!"
k_sra, Aug 02 2007

       This is daft. Two immediate problems:   

       - Terribly unfair to counties that happen to be state-locked (not on the state border)   

       - No provision for the neighboring (moved-into) state to reject the move
globaltourniquet, Aug 02 2007

       ///Or could you have a state with no counties?//   


       There's a joke there that I didn't get. //   

       Obscure U.S. info: Louisiana has parishes, not counties. It also calls itself a commonwealth, but so does Pennsylvania, I think.
baconbrain, Aug 02 2007

       The commonwealth states are Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Virginia, and Massachusetts. Louisiana isn't.
Louisiana's use of parishes stems from its origins in officially-Roman Catholic French and Spanish colonies. The parish borders got revised all over the map, but the term survived.
Alaska also doesn't have counties - it has boroughs and census areas.
lurch, Aug 02 2007

       Oh, the things I learn here. Thanks, [lurch].
baconbrain, Aug 02 2007

       You got that right. When I get caught halfbaking at work, I justify it as networking with my technical consultants.
normzone, Aug 02 2007

       oh buggar, it's the world = USA again.   

       anyone else worried about the % of scots in the cabinet?   

       not to mention the problems of Zimbabwe
po, Aug 02 2007

       I have some scotch in my cabinet...
I vote for [normzone] to be King. I like his elastic theory.
xandram, Aug 02 2007

       <clinks glasses> what aye the noo (or whatever) Rubbie Byrnes 4 King (or whatever) should old Langie Peeps...
po, Aug 02 2007

       And if any state reaches the opposite side of the country from where it started, its residents can choose to become queens.
Ander, Aug 04 2007

k_sra, Aug 06 2007

       Excellent idea - but it should be extended to neighbouring countries. Should, for example, parts of Alaska feel like joining Canada.
vincevincevince, Aug 06 2007

       And get those nasty Canadian winters? No, thank you.
baconbrain, Aug 06 2007

       I've had enough of this inane conversation. I think skate boarders are flexible enough as they are.
Road Show, Aug 06 2007

       // oh buggar, it's the world = USA again. //   

       you say that like it's a bad thing, [po]. you should come visit the world sometime. you'll see what we mean... : )
k_sra, Aug 06 2007

       Wow. A vote for king. And I've already got a couple of votes for president in my pocket as well.   

       Now, all I need is some campaign contibutions. Too bad my code of ethics prohibits me from taking most of them.
normzone, Aug 06 2007

       whatza "contibution?"
k_sra, Aug 06 2007

       The singular of "contibutions".
Road Show, Aug 06 2007

       That's a damn good question. Google is unable to help me. I can find contibution references, but they're all obviously typos.
normzone, Aug 07 2007

       [norm] and as King I expect some SoCal sunshine to be slingshotted up to New England mid-winter, thank you.
xandram, Aug 07 2007

       If, for example, a county on the eastern border of the state voted to move to the state next door and then all the counties in it's old state which now border it's new state did the same thing then it either a) wouldn't be able to move back as it is no longer adjacent to it's old state or b) by doing so could conceivably render the new state non-contiguous. This may or may not be a good thing, I leave you to judge, but it does create a conflict within your constitutional amendment.

Also, if a county moves to the state next door does the domino effect cause a state on the coast to fall into the sea? Or if all the counties in the middle start moving coastwards will that leave a big hole in the middle (or is that Kansas?).
DrBob, Aug 07 2007

       Like all the best computer games, this wraps around at the left and right edges, so a county in California would be able to join New York state, for example.
hippo, Aug 07 2007

       [xandram], due to the wraparound effect [hippo] mentioned, that sunshine will be there this winter as long as CA gets some.
normzone, Aug 07 2007

       Should be kind of like watching Conway's Game of Life.
lurch, Aug 07 2007

       my understanding, [DrBob], which is admittedly weak, is that no county may vacate its borders, but may appendage a nearby county into itself. therefore, Kansas, or any other hole-in-the-middle state would be at no risk of being vacated by eager, westward bound adventurers.   

       although i am now toying with the notion that if you work it just right, you could swap two states entirely, if they played their cards right. and soon, california would be inland in the sticks and Nevada would be the new proud owner of Big Sur.
k_sra, Aug 07 2007

       Heh! So a bit like one of those little puzzles where you have to move the squares around in order to come up with a more sensible picture.
DrBob, Aug 08 2007

       You could have an interesting variation in which every state must keep the number of counties they have constant. In this scenario, on a given day each year, every state would nominate a county to be given to a neighbouring state and would accept a county from that same state or another neighbouring state.
hippo, Aug 08 2007

       I don't see why it should be border counties only. Just limit the things which are transferred and you can support the transfer of any county to any state.   

       e.g. you could move your county to avoid state income tax, to avoid unpopular state law, but you'd not be able to stop the entry of former state police.
vincevincevince, Aug 08 2007

       To answer DrBob:   

       In case I didn't make it clear enough, any state's borders could only change once every ten years. An interior county that is adjacent to a county that is moving only becomes a border county when the border change is made official right before the Census once a decade. Only after the border officially moves could that new border county vote to leave its state.   

       This and the other hurdles that have to be overcome to actually change the border (two votes with an increasing passage threshold, the opportunity to reverse the decision by simple majority, and the contiguity requirement), would ensure that border changes wouldn't happen too fast, but that they would happen when absolutely necessary to check a state's bad policies.   

       So I acknowledge that the situation you mention (a long "string" of counties preventing any counties in the middle of that string from moving back to its original state) could happen, but it would take at least 20 years to occur, is very dependent on local county "geometry", and there are sufficient hurdles to prevent it from happening very often. Also, the prospect of such an occurrence is a further check and balance on a frivolous movement of a state's borders.
benwisdom, Aug 08 2007

       It's like free market federalism.
wagster, Aug 08 2007

       Am I reading this wrong, or does the state to which the county wants to move have no vote in the matter?' i.e. Hazzard County wants to move to Alabama, because Boss Hogg's got some trouble a-brewin'. Don't the citizens of Alabama get a vote? or are the Duke boys in a whole mess o trouble, Alabama style?
dbsousa, Aug 09 2007

       //a whole mess o trouble, Alabama style?//   

       I don't think I want to know....
k_sra, Aug 09 2007


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