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Verify: Can states legally be split?

Two Washington state representatives from Spokane Valley introduced a bill that aims to divide Washington into two, but is it possible?

SPOKANE, Wash. — This is not a new idea. Washington Lawmakers have proposed dividing the state pretty much down the middle multiple times.

Article IV Section III of the Constitution says “new States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.”

Hugh Spitzer, a law professor at University of Washington, said this can be interpreted to mean that states can be split in two if the state legislature and Congress agree to it.

RELATED: Spokane Valley Reps. Shea, McCaslin propose bill to split Wash. into 2 states

Spitzer said some, however, disagree with that. He said they argue “while states can be merged, and land can be transferred from state to state, a state cannot be split into two even with legislative and Congressional approval."

The online blog Constitution Daily states Kentucky, Vermont, West Virginia, Maine and Tennessee were all were formed from other states. So the argument that states cannot be formed from other states may not hold much water.

But even though the Constitution allows for states to be divided it is very difficult. According to Constitution Daily there are constitutional and political barriers that comes with any attempt to form a new state.

A big one being a new state means new senators and representatives and a new balance of power between Democrats and Republicans. And it also means convincing enough voters to support the idea.

Texlahoma, Transylvania, Westsyvania, Nickajack and Forgottonia all could have been a state in the union. Whether it was for economic, political or ideological reasons people have wanted to break away from the United States for decades.

RELATED: Spokane Valley senator behind effort to end 'dwarf tossing' at bars, strip clubs

The last time a state successfully formed from another state was in 1863 when West Virginia broke away from Virginia.

In 2013, several northeast counties of Colorado attempted to secede to form North Colorado. Reports said there was a divide forming between urban and rural communities.

The same can be said for California which back in November voters had to decide whether California would be three states; Northern California, Southern California and California.

In 2012 and 2014 there were reportedly proposals to divide the Golden State into as many as 6 different states. In fact, there has been about 200 attempts to split the state of California over the years.

For more than 150 years, Texas has had the power to split up. When Texas was admitted into the union in 1845 there was a provision put in that allows the state to divide.

In 2015, a group of Western Washington voters proposed the idea to divide Washington into two. They called it the state of Madison after James Madison.

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