On the heels of a Western Washington man starting a petition to create a committee to examine splitting our state in half, as well as putting the issue before voters, here comes another bill.

Representatives Larry Haler of Richland and Brad Kippert of Kennewick have joined with Spokane area legislators Matt Shea and Bob McCaslin, who represent the Spokane Valley area. They've sponsored a pair of House Bills, 1818 and 1832, according to GOP legislative information services.

The bills would create exploratory committees tasked with examining what it would take (and what the effects would be) of splitting our state down the Cascades. They would also examine and invite Eastern Oregon to potentially join Eastern Washington in one state, while the West side of Washington and Oregon would be another.

No hearings have been scheduled on either bill, according to the Washington state legislative website.  These represent the first real rumblings of splitting our state since efforts were made, but failed, in 2005.  Previous efforts were also examined in 2001.

The primary reason fueling this and other efforts is the growing frustration from Eastern Washington residents over what they believe to be a monopoly by the West side on political issues and elections. For example, I-502 legalizing marijuana passed rather easily on the West side, but was defeated in 18 of the 22 Eastern Washington counties.

Similar results were seen with the recent gun registration bill I-594 which passed largely because of much larger voting populations on the West side.

The political acrimony between the East and West sides of the state has grown considerably over the last 20 years, and it's been decades since our state has elected a GOP governor.

Over the last ten years, the polarization between the East and West sides politically has grown dramatically, and is often harshly represented by bitter battles in the State House and Senate, and that includes tussles with Gov. Jay Inslee.

Although this and previous attempts to at least look at splitting Washington in half have generated a lot of publicity and attention, in reality they have not gotten very far in the legislature.

We will keep you posted on the progress of these efforts.

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