BRACKETED LEGISLATION: ANNEXATION AND DRAINAGE FEE EXEMPTIONS
Legislators often file “bracketed” legislation (legislation that applies to only one or a small number of cities) to address what they perceive as “local concerns.” The League’s policy with regard to bracketed bills is, in part, that “TML will oppose bracketed legislation when requested by the affected city or cities[, but t]he League will not expend on that legislation the same level of effort it expends on bills that would negatively affect all or many cities…”
League staff does not summarize bracketed legislation in the Legislative Update, but does inform affected cities when possible. In practice, those cities are usually already well aware of the legislation.
However, from time to time, rumors of the expansion of bracketed legislation to additional cities or to all cities warrant mentions of the bills. Two examples from this session relate to annexation authority and municipal drainage fee exemptions:
- Annexation Authority – H.B. 107 (Brown): This bill is bracketed to the City of College Station. It provides that the city may not annex an area with 50 or more inhabitants unless: (1) the city holds an election in the area to be annexed; and (2) a majority of the votes received at the election favor the annexation. Some have heard that the bill may be amended in the House Urban Affairs committee to apply to every city. The League’s general position is to “oppose legislation that would erode municipal annexation authority.”
- Municipal Drainage Fee Exemptions – H.B. 1143 (Gonzales), H.B. 1289 (Gonzalez)/S.B. 609 (Rodriguez), H.B. 1022 (Dutton)/S.B. 714 (Patrick): These bills are bracketed either to El Paso or Houston (although the Houston bills appear to be flawed in their population bracket). They would exempt various entities – such as municipal housing authorities, religious organizations, and non-profit organizations – from municipal drainage fees. (Note: During the 2003 legislative session, lawmakers exempted state agencies and public institutions of higher education from the requirement to pay drainage fees. In addition, despite the League’s efforts and the efforts of several cities, the omnibus water bill passed during the 2007 legislative session contained a provision that exempts private institutions of higher education from paying the fees.) The League’s general position is to “oppose legislation that would exempt any entity from paying municipal drainage fees.”
The League is in communication with city officials in the affected cities and will inform the membership immediately if the applicability of the bills is expanded.