South Florida politicians are concerned over the rising sea level in South Florida. As true to the nature of politicians, they proposed what some are considering debatable and others comical: the proposal of South Florida becoming the 51st state in a legal separation from North Florida.
On Oct. 7, a resolution was proposed by Vice Mayor Walter Harris and won 3-2 in favor of splitting the state in half. Counties such a Brevard, Orange, Hillsborough and Pinellas would make up the new South Florida. The capital of South Florida would be a central Florida city. Candidates for the capital include Tampa, Orlando and St. Petersburg.
Reasons for splitting the state are due to Tallahassee politician’s lack of concern on water levels rising three to six feet by the end of the 21st century in the southern part of the state, according to Harris. In order for this proposal to pass, Congress and state Legislature must approve.
Some are making logic out of the two-state split possibility. One argument is that the University of South Florida would make much more sense if there was an actual South Florida state. The state would validate the university’s name.
South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard told the Sun-Sentinel why the proposal is a good idea. “It’s very apparent that the attitude of the northern part of the state is that they would just love to saw the state in half and just let us float off into the Caribbean.”
Yet some officials aren’t as thrilled about South Florida and North Florida becoming two separate states. When asked to talk about plans for the university, USF spokeswoman Lara Wade-Martinez, stated “Seems a bit premature. The university wouldn’t comment on a hypothetical scenario.”
“There’s not a lot written about this part of the Constitution,” constitutional law scholar at UM school of law, Caroline Mala Corbin said. “But I can’t imagine Congress would ever approve this, so in the real world it is not likely to happen.”
Commissioner Gabriel Edmond, a history teacher who voted against the proposal warned officials to “be careful”, when executing this proposal. Edmond suggested that South Florida residents might one day not approve of their representation of them, and decide they want to break away from South Florida as well, creating an acceptable policy for others to follow.
If the proposal was to pass into law, what would be the consequences? Encouraging previous prejudices the split states had of each other as Floridians, cultural variety viewed in a negative light based on locality, biased official representation in North and South Florida as well as new social divisions could be created.
What will the public make of this proposal? Will Congress make the proposal the laughing stock of the country, or will optimistic officials like Harris and Stoddard have the last laugh?
We can’t call South Florida the 51st state just yet, but a 3-2 vote in favor of the proposal has Floridians contemplating on the possibilities.
View the resolution here