Thursday, June 30, 2011

H845 is now the law for "city initiated" Annexations.

At midnight of June 30th, the Annexation Reform Act will become the law of North Carolina.
This represents a HUGE change to a very bad law that was a blemish on the State of North Carolina, whose motto has been "First in Freedom". This is a change of HISTORIC significance.

In my last post, I explained the choices that were before Governor Purdue as H845 sat on her desk. I'm puzzled by the choice that she made.
She could have vetoed this legislation, but she did not. For that we all breath a sigh of relief.

Instead she chose to leave the bill sit untouched for the ten days required by the NC Constitution for the legislation to go into effect without her signature.

The Governor could have signed H845. Instead she chose a 'hands off' approach. WHY? This decision does not show support by her for this legislation. I actually thought there was a chance that she might stand with the people and sign the bill, given the overwhelming bi-partisan support that the legislation has.

Thousands of people and nearly two dozen citizens groups opposed to the practice of forced annexation and the UNC Center for Civil Rights supported the passage of the changes H845 would bring to the annexation laws. This legislation passed the House and the Senate with a STRONG bi-partisan vote. In light of all of the support the legislation had among the people and the overwhelming majority of the Legislature, it is hard to understand why Governor Purdue chose NOT to show genuine support for the bill.

We can thank the Legislators for passing the Annexation Reform Act of 2011. 
The No2wilma group has great pages set up to help you do just that:
Thanks to No2Wilma for putting this together!

NOW we can truly call annexation proposals that are initiated by a municipality "city initiated" annexation.
The NCLM has been trying for years to spin FORCED annexation as 'city initiated'; now they can truthfully call it that to their hearts content.

I want to thank each and every person who wrote a letter, called or emailed a legislator over the years. I thank every local community that stood up and fought a forced annexation win or lose, and contributed to the effort at the Legislature. And every person who made it a point to ask the candidates campaigning to represent them the question of where they stood on ending forced annexation. YOU all made where we are today a reality!! THANK YOU!!

Catherine Heath
StopNCAnnexation Coalition (the coalition is YOU!)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Annexation Legislation Passed by the Legislature!

To All,
A Very Good Year For Annexation Reform!

The 2011 Legislative Session has been a very good year for the effort to obtain real change to the Annexation Laws of NC that helps to protect property rights for all North Carolina citizens. 

It took many years as well as a historic change in the Leadership of the General Assembly, and the journey had its ups and downs, but real change has finally been ratified by the Legislature and is before the Governor. The change will be positive for those living near municipalities and those living inside of municipalities, because the much of the incentive to misuse the law has been removed. 

To achieve this historic change to the law required the efforts of every single person who has spoken up in opposition to the practice and who then took the needed action to be heard loud and clear in the General Assembly, whether through emails, phone calls, visits to legislators, attending events and hearings, or taking the annexation issue to the voting booth. 

Last week at the General Assembly was intense, with the annexation legislation being brought to a final vote and ratified amidst long hours, late nights, and competition with many other Bills. The priority that the new Legislative Leadership gave to the issue of restoring some rights to property owners being targeted by city initiated annexation is much appreciated by StopNCAnnexation and the thousands of people and local Community Groups who have supported this effort to change the law over the last decade. 

What Happened in the Legislature Last Week?

During the week of June 12th, the Annexation Reform Act of 2011 (H845) was taken up by the Senate Finance Committee, voted through on the floor of the Senate, passed to the House for concurrence and ratified on the Floor of the House on June 17th. H845 was sent to the Governor for signature and was received by the Governor on June 20th. 

Our sincere thanks goes out to the House and Senate Leadership, the staff members of the Legislative Leaders, whose hard work on this legislation was critical, to the Sponsors of H845, who worked hard to defend and the legislation and gain support for it, and to ALL the Legislators who voted FOR the Annexation Reform Act and the Local Omnibus Bills H56 & S27. (voting record posted on the SNCA website)

The next step in the progress for this legislation is in the Governor's hands.  

If the Governor takes no action on H845 between now and June 30th, on July 1st the legislation becomes law.  

What Has Been Changed in the Annexation Laws?

H845 changes:
  • No more "small city/large city" special rules
  • One year advance notice from the city considering an area
  • An added provision to allow property owners to obtain water and sewer infrastructure from the annexing municipality to their property at zero to reduced cost
  • Added a provision that allows area property owners to REJECT the annexation proposal
  • Areas that reject an annexation proposed by the city cannot be considered again for three years
For more detailed information about how the Annexation Reform Act changes the law, visit the SNCA website:
What About the Areas Currently Being Forcibly Annexed?

Additional legislation was also passed last week that allows nearly every area currently being forcibly annexed the right to use the Petition to Reject.

Nine Municipalities will have the current attempt to forcibly annex areas made subject to the results of the Petition to Reject. The legislation allows the property owners being annexed by these cities the right to use the Petition to Reject as enacted by H845. Many will be watching this new process in action as these local communities will be the first to use it.

Those cities are: Kinston, Lexington, Rocky Mount, Wilmington, Asheville (Biltmore Lakes), Marvin, Southport, Fayetteville (Gates Four), and Goldsboro.

Three cities in the process of forcibly annexing communities that opposed being annexed that were not included in this special legislation are Burlington, Elizabethtown, and a small area annexed by Asheville. "Why?" is a question that still needs an answer.

All of this legislation is dependent now on what the Governor chooses to do with H845. 
Governor Purdue can choose one of three options;
  • She can VETO H845
  • She can SIGN H845
  • She can allow the bill to remain unsigned without veto for ten days which would allow H845 to become law without her signature.
You can contact the Governor to communicate your support for the passage of H845:

Office of the Governor
Constituent Services Office
116 West Jones Street
Raleigh, North Carolina 27603
Phone: (800) 662-7952 or (919) 733-2391
Fax: (919) 733-2120

Contact information for Legislators who can be thanked for making this legislation a priority can also be found on the StopNCAnnexation website. 

Thanks to everyone for your sacrifices made for this cause.

Catherine Heath