Over the past two years, the movement to divide the state of Illinois into two states — Cook County in one, the other 101 counties in the other — has been gaining support. In February, as Gov. J.B. Pritzker was pursuing an agenda for Illinois that included new tax and abortion policies, Halbrook refiled a resolution in the state legislature, HR 101, in which he and six co-sponsors asked the U.S. Congress to recognize Chicago as the 51st state. “I hear it a lot from my constituents, that we need to be separate from Chicago,” Halbrook says. “I thought yep, this is what we need to do.”
The resolution, which could be dismissed as simple political maneuvering — plays big at home, but has scant chance of seeing daylight in the legislature — is also backed by several grassroots groups agitating for separation. One of them, Illinois Separation, founded by Collin Cliburn, of Athens, Ill., has 24,000 followers on Facebook, and growing. Cliburn is also holding events at venues from wineries and gun shops to community centers around the state through August and September to capitalize on the cause’s momentum.
If it happens, it will be as part of a deal for a federal bailout after Illinois goes broke.
Plus: “The New Illinoisans have company in the state separation business: both New York and California are currently facing their own state split movements.” Also Oregon and Washington.