DC Leaders Release Constitution for State of ‘New Columbia'

D.C. residents may get to vote in November on whether to make the District the 51st state in the nation, and on Friday leaders released a draft constitution for the state of New Columbia. 

Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson and other members of the New Columbia Statehood Commission unveiled the 30-page document Friday afternoon at President Lincoln's Cottage on Rock Creek Church Road, where Lincoln is said to have worked on the Emancipation Proclamation.

"This is a very exciting day for the District of Columbia, soon to be the 51st state," "shadow" Sen. Paul Strauss said, DCist reported. "I am so excited, I am literally getting chills."

The preamble of the document echoes the U.S. Constitution.

"We the people of the District of Columbia desire to become a state of the United States of America, where, like citizens of the other states, we will enjoy the full rights of citizens of the United States of America: to democracy and a republican form of government, to enact our own laws governing state affairs, and to voting representation in the United States Congress," the draft D.C. constitution begins.

The document names the proposed state New Columbia, but Bowser said at the event that the name, which D.C. statehood supporters voted on in 1982, is not set in stone.

"I am personally not opposed to a discussion about the name," Bowser said Friday, according to Washington City Paper.

A Ward 7 resident who spoke during the public comment portion of the event suggested the names Anacostia and Potomac, the paper reported.

The District's 672,000 residents pay federal taxes and fight in wars but lack voting representation in Congress. Statehood advocates argue that making the nation's capital a state is the best solution.

But the effort has gone nowhere in Congress, in part, because the city is overwhelmingly Democratic, and Republicans don't want to hand two Senate seats to Democrats.

To read the full constitution, visit the D.C. statehood website. Comments on the document can be submitted online, and the statehood commission will hold eight townhalls on the document in May and June.

A constitutional convention will be held June 17-18. The constitution will have to be approved by the D.C. Council in order to go before D.C. voters in November.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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