Representative Dan Huberty has filed House Bill (HB) 424 relating to municipal annexation. Huberty filed similar legislation during the 84th Legislative Session, requiring municipalities to receive voter approval before annexation. That bill failed to pass.
In 1996, the residents of House District 127 in Kingwood, Texas, were forcibly annexed by the city of Houston. Just over 20 years later, Texans continue to see municipalities expand their boundaries by annexing smaller communities that are then required to pay city taxes, but rarely see the services promised by these tax hikes.
Huberty understands the importance of this bill.
"Subjecting Texans to increased taxation without representation is against everything we stand for as a legislative body. Under the current system, communities can be annexed without having a vote in any election prior, including mayor, comptroller, and other important offices. This is absolutely unacceptable."
HB 424 ensures that property rights are protected by allowing areas under the threat of municipal annexation to either approve or deny said annexation. This allows property owners to have more control over their tax rates and community services.
Last session, municipalities fought tooth-and-nail against the legislation, crying that their need to annex was essential to the successes of their cities. However, if approved, HB 424 would in fact expedite the process of annexation if approved by voters. Under the current system municipal annexations can take up to two years, but this legislation would allow annexations to be completed within months after voter approval. This legislation as written will benefit both growing municipalities and communities under the threat of annexation.