DC statehood commission wraps up constitutional convention

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WASHINGTON, DC – The commission tasked with leading D.C. statehood efforts wrapped up its three-day constitutional convention on Saturday.

Dozens attended the final day of the convention hosted by the New Columbia Statehood Commission at Woodrow Wilson High School.

“I’m still sort of looking at the process, but to me, all efforts are good, because we have to keep the issue in the forefront for the American public,” said Carol Grisby, a DC resident since 1978.

DC residents have been asked to give testimony and propose amendments for the draft constitution that would govern the hypothetical 51st state. The commission said it has received hundreds of submissions and each one will be reviewed.

“They border on one, what’s the composition of the new legislature going to be,” said DC Shadow Senator Paul Strauss, when asked about the recommendations that get mentioned the most. “Are we going to stick with the traditional 13 that we’ve had or are we going to expand that in some way? A lot of the comments on what we’re going to call the new state. Are we going to stick with ‘New Columbia’, the name that voters chose in 1982? Are we going to name it after something else?”

But while many came with ideas on how to amend the constitution, some came with concerns with how quickly this process has been going.

“Something that’s going to be long lasting and as important as being considered the 51st state or an additional state to this nation, I never want to see it rushed into,” said lifelong D.C. resident Phil Portlock.

The goal is to have a finalized constitution for D.C. residents to vote on during the November 8th elections and, if approved, submit it to the next Congress.

“We’ve got to remember: this is not a perfect process. We can’t kill the good in search of the perfect. We’ve got to get this on the ballot,” said DC Shadow Senator Michael D. Brown.

“We need something that’s ready to go now, but we understand that just like our own national constitution perspectives change, times change and the document that we’re going to craft for our new state needs to be able to change with the times,” added Strauss.

The next step will be for the commission to considering the recommendations at a meeting on June 24th.

A copy of the draft constitution can be viewed here.