REWIND: 2016 Deannexation Legislation
During the 2016 legislative session, HB779 / SB749 passed out of the House, after lengthy debate, but got hung up in the Senate State & Local Government Committee, which sent the bill to summer study. The overall goal of the heavily amended legislation was to allow resident-initiated deannexation. The bill had many versions. At one point, it only applied to six counties and exempted certain cities. The version passed by the House allowed for deannexation by ordinance and proposed that deannexation may occur by a two-thirds vote of the county legislative body; the Senate version wanted to require 20 percent of voter signatures for a referendum and allowed cities to continue taxing deannexed property owners for a proportional share for costs of public employee pensions and OPEB obligations. So obviously, the two versions did not match, but it didn’t matter because the bill was never voted on in the Senate Committee. The Senate State & Local Government Committee decided to study the issue further over the summer. Stale mate.
FAST FORWARD: Summer Study Committee
The Senate State & Local Government Committee stuck to its word, and the promised Senate Deannexation Summer Study Committee met on Monday, August 22. The committee heard testimony from a bevy of speakers, who provided legislative analysis to other states that have implemented similar legislation, presented data, and offered overall differing perspectives on the topic.
PAUSE: What Next?
In summary, the committee did what it was intended to do – hold a hearing and study the issue further. It is not anticipated that the group will meet again before the 2017 session. However, it is likely we will see the re-introduction of deannexation legislation, in some form, next session. With elections this fall and some new players at the Legislature next year, both sides on this issue will have some lobbying to do. So what happens next? Wait and see.