Kingsport Times-News: Amended de-annexation bill passes state Senate

Amended de-annexation bill passes state Senate

Hank Hayes • May 11, 2017 at 8:33 AM

Amended legislation that would allow annexed residents to petition county election commissions to hold a de-annexation referendum passed the Tennessee Senate on Wednesday.

In the waning hours of the legislative session, senators voted 29-3 to pass the amended bill, sponsored by state Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson.

But the amendments have apparently established a high threshold for annexed residents to meet.

“If you’re looking for compromise, this bill is the definition of compromise,” Watson said when the bill was being considered by the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee.

But the House sponsor of the legislation, Ootlewah Republican state Rep. Mike Carter, did not move his companion bill during the legislative session.

Carter will be able to run his House version of the de-annexation bill next year, and he plans to do so, his legislative assistant said in an email.

The de-annexation bill was crafted after state lawmakers eliminated annexation by ordinance.

Watson said his bill was meant to be a remedy for those who had been forcibly annexed with no voice.

The amended bill calls for 20 percent of the registered voters of the annexed area to move the petition forward. If the petition standards are met, then a referendum would be held and include all the registered voters of the county.

“That’s a fairly high bar to meet,” Watson noted.

In addition, the municipality would be able collect taxes on de-annexed property to cover its debt. Territory would also not be eligible for de-annexation if it creates a “doughnut hole” surrounded by municipal boundaries, according to the amendments.

Another amendment says that if a municipality adopts a de-annexation plan before Jan. 1, 2018, that plan would be in control. One other amendment calls for annexed territory to automatically be de-annexed if a municipality does not comply with its plan of services within a five-year period.

For more, go to The bill’s number is SB 0641.

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