Bill ending forced annexation becomes law

COURTESY/ASHLEY WESTERNHOVER

House Bill 347, related to ending forced annexation in Texas, became law effective immediately after Gov. Greg Abbott signed the bill Monday. 

“We’re here today for House Bill 347 — it deals with forced annexation. Forced annexation is when cities annex property without the approval of the people and businesses that are affected. This means that cities can impose new regulations and higher taxes on Texans who purposefully choose to live outside of city limits,” Abbott said before signing the bill. “It’s a form of taxation without representation and it will not be tolerated in Texas. HB 347 ends forced annexation statewide. I want to recognize and thank Rep. Phil King and Rep.[Cecil] Bell, as well as Sen. Brian Birdwell and Sen. [Donna] Campbell for their tireless efforts in making sure that this bill got to my desk.”

The bill, authored by King, R-Weatherford, took things a step further than Senate Bill 6, which stopped forced annexation in Texas’ 10 largest counties. 

“Today’s bill signing has been over two years in the making,” King said. “When citizens and lawmakers work hand in hand big things can be accomplished. This new statute will protect landowners for decades to come.”

The campaign to end forced annexation started in Parker County when a group, Stop Involuntary Annexation, got a proposition on the Nov. 6, 2018, ballot to give the county Tier 2 status and ending forced annexation. 

“It seems like just yesterday that I was standing before the Weatherford City Council pleading our case for Zion Hill. After all of our dedicated hard work, I felt honored to be present as Gov. Abbott signed HB 347, effectively siding with Zion Hill and all other small communities in Texas who didn’t have a voice before today,” Stop Involuntary Annexation Group Vice President Nathan Vick said. “Everything that happened today happened because of a small community homeschool mom who would not take no for an answer. Every small town person in the state of Texas, who lives outside of a city limits, owes Laura Hester a huge thank you. She is the reason all of this came to fruition.”

Hester, the Stop Involuntary Annexation president, said she is excited that the group got to play a major role in getting HB 347 through the legislature.

“It’s pretty awesome and I can’t believe it started here in Zion Hill. We’ve gone all the way through to getting the bill signed. It took two years, but we finally got it and I’m very excited that we got to play a major part in that,” Hester said. “Other counties were facing the same thing just right after we were because SB 6 was going into effect and a lot of cities thought they needed to hurry up and annex property and it just kind of grew from there. I had people calling me from all across the state about how we fought our annexation — what we did and how we did it.”

Stop Involuntary Annexation group member Dedra Vick said it was an honor to be there in person to see Abbott sign HB 347.

“It was such an honor to get invited, and be there in person to see Gov. Abbott sign HB 347 into law. It’s surreal to think that this idea to stop forced annexation all started with our little Zion Hill community,” Vick said. “We owe Rep. Phil King and Laura Hester a huge thank you for leading us through this whole process. This was definitely a family affair for me, and a team effort from the citizens of Parker County. This could not have been done without the work of all our local, grass roots community getting out and working so hard for over a year. The numbers of citizens against forced annexation across Texas were staggeringly high. This meant so much to me because it’s not every day that I get to be with my son and the governor of Texas, and watch history being made.”

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