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SB 1639, if passed, would modify a significant portion of the Government Code (Subchapter A, Section 43) relating to the procedure of municipal annexations. The bill is rather long and covers a range of relevant modifications to code. Ultimately though, there are three major changes which SB 1639 would bring about.
The first major change would be to reduce the voluntary annexation process from 90 days to 14 days (ten business days) provided there is landowner agreement. The second major change would be to eliminate limited purpose annexation. The third major change would be to create a process by which city initiated annexation could be vetted by property owners. If the area in question had a population of under 200 a petition process would be put in place. If the area in question had a population of over 200 an election would have to be held on a uniform date in either May or November regarding the annexation process.
SB 1639 is an excellent bill in that it maintains property rights which for too long have been eroded due to some historic accidents in the development of the legal regime surrounding Texas cities. The bill is not an attack on city authority, but merely an assertion that property owners have rights which need to be protected, and the measures put in place in SB 1639 strike an appropriate balance.
Regarding the three changes, speeding up voluntary annexation if there is agreement between all the stakeholders makes sense as it would increase efficiency. Eliminating limited purpose annexation is prudent as it prevents cities from using their annexation power from de facto extracting unreasonable demands from property owners within zones of exclusive jurisdiction. City initiated annexation should be agreeable to those being annexed and SB 1639 would put in place appropriate measures to accomplish this task, depending upon population size.
Ultimately SB 1639 would represent a substantive improvement in the status of property holders around cities, and move which re-enforces the notion that the best agreements are contractual, and mutually agreeable to the parties involved. As such we support SB 1639.