(NASHVILLE, Tenn.), March 20, 2014 — Some of the most important bills of the 2014 legislative session advanced in the Senate this week as committees are working to complete their business in anticipation of adjournment in April. This includes two major bills approved by the Senate State and Local Government Committee which vouchsafe citizens’ right to vote prior to annexation. The legislation eliminates forced annexation, which has been the primary form used by municipalities to increase their boundaries over the last several decades in Tennessee.
Senate Bill 869 requires a referendum of residents within the area to be annexed by a municipal ordinance prior to annexation; while Senate Bill 2464 accomplishes a referendum process by repealing annexation by ordinance completely.
In addition, committee members approved Senate Bill 2472 to continue the moratorium on annexation passed by the General Assembly last year until May 15, 2015. It specifically directs the Tennessee Advisory Council on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) to study the collateral effects of the repeal. This includes the rights of businesses and property owners not residing in the area who would not be qualified to vote in a referendum and how to deal with situations where utilities have already been extended in anticipation of annexation. TACIR has already released an Interim Report on Annexation which examines Tennessee’s annexation laws and compares and contrasts how similar issues are handled in other states.
The three bills now move to the Senate floor for final consideration, where, at a later point, sponsors will agree on either one or two of the proposals that will carry the intent of all of them.