Dividing New York state into separate governments is a decades-old idea brought up regularly by upstate Republicans in the New York State Legislature.
The latest iteration, which has been around for several years, would not require secession but rather creates three regional governments under the umbrella of one state.
"I think it's just a more practical way of doing this then literally having an act of Congress to literally split the state in two," said state Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, a co-sponsor.
Under the proposal, the New York region would include the city's five boroughs, New Montauk would consist of Long Island, and New Amsterdam would represent the rest of the state.
"Each would have its own regional governor and regional legislature and the regional legislatures would meet for six weeks a year to act as a state Legislature to comply with the U.S. Constitution which requires you have a state Legislature," said John Bergener, chair of the Divide NYS Caucus.
These types of proposals in the past have generated headlines but little serious conversation. However, Bergener said the movement continues to garner more attention.
The caucus, which incorporated as an organization in 2015 for the first time this year, has appointed a volunteer executive director to handle a growing workload.
"It's becoming more possible because it's more needed every year,” Bergener said. “What really needs to happen is county legislatures have to pass home rule resolutions supporting it.”
Borrello said the divide between New York City and the rest of the state has become even more obvious since Democrats took control of the state Senate in 2019. He believes polarizing issues with regional factors, like the migrant influx, could push the conversation to the forefront.
"A lot has changed in a very short period of time," he said. "Bail reform. Cancel culture. All those other things that have made New York quite frankly devolve. I think the conversation is now more important than ever."
In order to amend the state Constitution, the Legislature must pass and the governor must sign a bill in consecutive sessions. Then it would go on the ballot for a referendum vote.