Recently in the news the citizens of Puerto Rico decided to take the step toward statehood. Having been born in Puerto Rico this fills me with a sense of pride knowing my birthplace has the potential to be the 51st state of our United States. However, since I moved to the Upper Peninsula statehood for the U.P. has been an idea that I have heard from many. I believe that statehood can be a reality but I must ask one question of the residents of the Upper Peninsula. Do the rewards outweigh the consequences?
The process of becoming a new, separate state carved out from an already established one according to the United States Constitution Article IV, Section 3, "New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be 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 process I believe would be perhaps the most challenging as we would have to have the Legislature in Lansing approve before we get the approval of the Congress in Washington, D.C. but this process actually has been used to create states in the past such as Kentucky, Maine, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Vermont.
The benefits of the Upper Peninsula gaining statehood would be the tax revenue that normally goes downstate would stay within the Upper Peninsula. The Upper Peninsula has a vast amount of natural resources from timber, mineral ore, and oil and natural gas.
We can also use the aesthetic beauty of the Upper Peninsula from its national parks and the Great Lakes themselves along with the abundance of natural game to our advantage. The difference in the culture between the Upper and Lower Peninsula is another reason I am for statehood. For the citizens of the Upper Peninsula to have a state of our own would not only be a symbol of recognition but of cultural pride.
Many who are opposed to statehood like to point out how if we were to separate from the Lower Peninsula we would lose the many benefits we enjoy. However, I believe if the new government of the Upper Peninsula is small in scope we could sustain ourselves. Another point many bring up is the population of the Upper Peninsula which according to the 2010 census is 311,361 people. This would make us the least populated state behind Wyoming which has 563,626 people. The allure of a new state with fewer regulations may attract businesses which would create jobs and in turn attract more people to live here.
I recently had an opportunity to speak with Michigan state Rep. Ed McBroom to get his thoughts on the subject. He stated, "I was given a copy of the Attorney General's opinion and it is legally possible. Five other states have been carved out of existing states in the past. The residents of the Upper Peninsula would have to make a determination if they want a smaller more frugal state government to have a successful state separate from the Lower Peninsula."
In closing I have seen the Upper Peninsula as a second home and I would love more than anything to see it become its own state, but I must ask if the citizens of the Upper Peninsula are ready for such a move. Waving around a banner can be easy but when it comes time to actually get down to the task many might not find it as easy to actually go through with it.