The Locker Room

Annexation reform bill moves along

Posted by Becki Gray at 3:23 PM

The House Finance Committee meeting continues. A few more amendments are considered, including John Blust's proposal to prohibit annexations across county lines and Dale Folwell's amendment, which would have authorized the Joint Legislative Committee on Municipal Incorporation to provide oversight. That one failed, 12-15. 

Having heard all amendments that were turned in yesterday, the debate moves to the bill.  Rep. Kelly Alexander, D-Mecklenburg, says too many ornaments have been put on the Christmas tree and the bill was now unworkable in the real world of how cities and towns operate. 

Rep. William Wainwright, D-Craven, says a compromise had been reached with too much work, all parties have not been treated fairly, and the agreement on the compromise has been breached.  He won't suppport the bill.

Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, talks about unintended consequences that he will try to fix after the committee finishes. Rep. Earl Jones, D-Guilford, says he thinks this is a good balance. Rep. Dale Folwell, R-Forsyth, criticizes the legitimacy of the vote referendum, calling it a charade. 

Rep. Curtis Blackwood, R-Union, says many have been left out of the decisions on the compromise bill.  Rep. Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, says this is great progress, although not perfect.  He hopes it will go forward and continue to be improved. 

Rep. Hugh Holliman, D-Davidson, says he takes issue with Folwell's accusations of political charades and says Folwell has no idea what a political charade is. He says he's trying to help the people in his district. 

Rep. Jennifer Weiss, D-Wake, says reforms in the bill will keep abuses from happening again and says this is a rural/urban issue.

The director of government affairs for the League of Municipalities says the billl makes major changes in annexation. It addresses many of the concerns they have heard and makes changes that all could live with and a bill that would pass and then put this behind us all.  Only five citizen groups were here, but there's over 500 cities that she represents. They now strongly oppose the bill with the referendum included in it.

Rep. Larry Brown, R-Forsyth,  having worked tirelessly for over five years on annexation reform, says a lot of hard work has been done, but a lot of the points have been missed. He tells his colleagues that they represent the people, not the League. He would like to see a continuation of a study committee to keep ironing out the wrinkles in the process. The people really don't have a vote.  Holliman meant well, but there should be a special election for a fair election and the bar should be lower.  He'll work on this any way he can.

Tony Tetterton of the Fair Annexation Coalition says water and sewer costs are unreasonable, the bill offers no oversight, and it still leaves opportunities for abuse. The bill doesn't address all of the problems; the bill just cobbles a broken wheel. It's a poorly designed, poorly written bill.

The bill sponsor, Rep. Bruce Goforth, D-Buncombe, says the bill has huge changes that represent good reform. The amendments today have made it even better.

Rep. Paul Leubke says this will keep our cities strong.  He says the Holliman amendment was not necessary.

The bill passes with the following voting no:

Kelly Alexander
Becky Carney
Tricia Cotham
Larry Hall
Sandra Hughes
Dewey Hill
Deborah Ross
Pryor Gibson
William Wainwright

It goes to the House floor next and with the tight title will not be able to be amended.

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