Home News Local News Pirtle seeks amendment to allow counties to secede

Pirtle seeks amendment to allow counties to secede

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State Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell, speaks to the audience at an April 2019 meeting of the Chaves County Federated Republican Women. Pirtle, who represents portions of Chaves, Eddy and Otero counties in the New Mexico Senate, Monday introduced Senate Joint Resolution 15, which would amend the state's constitution to allow New Mexico counties to secede by either creating a new state or joining another one. (Daily Record File Photo)

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A lawmaker from Roswell has introduced a joint resolution to amend the state constitution to establish a process by which counties could secede from New Mexico.

Senate Joint Resolution 15 (SJR 15), sponsored by state Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell, would submit to voters a proposed amendment to the New Mexico Constitution to let three or more contiguous counties band together to secede from the state to either create their own state or become part of a neighboring state.

If the proposal passes the Legislature and wins a majority of the support of New Mexico voters, a county would have to join with at least two other counties to leave the state.

Those counties would have to start a petition drive of their voters or win unanimous support from county commissions before then seeking consent of the state Legislature to petition Congress to admit them into the union as a new state.

Counties that want to join other states would have to follow a similar process, with at least one of the three counties bordering the state they want to join. They would also need the approval of the neighboring state’s legislature.

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Pirtle, whose district includes parts of Chaves, Eddy and Otero counties, said some of the constituents in his heavily rural district have voiced support for parting ways with New Mexico, due to the recent COVID-19 lockdown and what he describes as attacks on the oil and gas industry, agriculture and conservative values in rural parts of the state by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the Democratic-controlled Legislature.

“So it’s time for counties that feel like they can do a better job running their own state to be allowed to do so,” he said.

The joint resolution now heads to the Senate Rules Committee for consideration.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext, 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.