House and Senate Committee Hearings:
The End of Annexation?
Home rule cities that annex property should contact their legislators now in opposition to Senate Bill 715 (Campbell) and House Bills 299 (Larson), 424 (Huberty), and 2272 (Schofield). Each of the bills was heard in committee this week, one (S.B. 715) was voted out, but they all have one thing in common: they would end municipal annexation by requiring voters in an area to approve the annexation at an election.
League staff, along with several city officials, testified against the bills in the House Land and Resource Management and Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committees on April 5. In spite of that opposition testimony, Senate Bill 715 was immediately voted out of the senate committee. City testimony focused on the effect annexation restrictions would have on the state’s economy:
- Texas annexation laws have been fine tuned over the past 100 years to provide an efficient and orderly way to deal with population growth, which is now increasing more than ever.
- And the proof that annexation is working well is in the results: Year after year, Texas cities are among the national leaders in attracting new businesses and new residents.
- When cities are prevented from expanding their boundaries, as we’ve seen in other parts of the country, the city core declines and the region enters a slow economic death spiral.
At the League’s request, an economic analysis firm, TXP, Inc. (www.txp.com), prepared a report titled “Annexation Policy’s Impact on the Economy and Tax Revenue of Texas Cities,” which was presented to the House committee. The study compared several southern states’ annexation policies. It found that states with “municipal determination” annexation policies (i.e., those where the city council, after input from citizens, decides whether to annex adjacent areas) had better personal income and economic growth and higher municipal bond ratings than states that limit annexation authority. Even more interesting, the study found that municipal determination cities grow physically more slowly than those in other states (presumably because city officials have to prudently deal with the political response to annexing).
If your city is concerned about this issue, either because you intend to annex or you appreciate the importance of annexation authority to the Texas economy, it is time to contact your state legislators in opposition to the bills mentioned above.