One somewhat surprise for the annexation reform citizens was thrown into HB2431 at the last minute. I have no details yet on who was behind the scenes negotiating, but a Joint Study of Municipal Annexation was authorized in this Bill today.
You can look at the language authorizing the study in Section 46 of HB2431
I don't know if it matters who were the original sponsors and co-sponsors of the Study Bill that was used as a vehicle for additional studies, but it might be worth noting. The most important thing to note is who will be on the Committee and who will appoint them.
You will see a number of things that do not bode well for our side of this issue.
- First, there is the fact that the members of this Committee will be chosen by Speaker Hackney and President Pro Tem Basnight. They have shown us that they are more interested in what the NCLM has to say and wants than what we are interested in seeing done with the annexation laws.
- This Committee is HUGE. And the NCLM has TWO SEATS at the table directly! Never before in any study has the NCLM been given direct members ON the Committee. They have always been given priority time to present and clearly have open back room access to Legislators on Committees that are discussing issues important to them.
- There is NO direct input or membership on this Committee from any other non-governmental unit. No Citizens! No Annexation Policy Experts critical of the current law!
- The time that the Committee has from now until December 31st is short and filled with distractions like the Elections and the Holidays.
- This Committee will replace the House Select committee that was much more favorably seated with reform minded legislators. The Select Committee members will be moved to the Joint Committee.
But here is a point to consider; IF the Senate had cooperated last year at the end of the Long Session of 2007, the Study committee that would have resulted would not have looked much different. It would have been stacked with pro-city legislators, and it would not likely have had any citizen members. It might have been smaller in numbers, and it might not have had NCLM members appointed to it.
Some in the annexation reform effort had set their goal toward working for another study of annexation rather than rally the effort behind some or one of the many Bills to enact actual change that have been introduced in the last several years. Some believed that to ask for more than a study was a losing game. Perhaps it would have been. Perhaps not.
So here we are.
It's time to decide if we have enough committed people to step up and put heads together to come up with a strategy to defeat this obvious attempt to high-jack and railroad the people's demand for real reform instead of into a repeat of the past where not much changed in favor of the affected citizens.
Share your thoughts on this with me.