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State Annexation Bill Offers Opt-in for Small Cities

Senate Bill 6, the bill requiring cities in Texas to hold a public vote before annexing surrounding properties was approved mainly along party lines yesterday. The 21 to 10 vote in the state Senate approves changes made in the House. 

Those changes limit the bill to automatically require votes in large cities – those of 500 thousand or more residents. Smaller cities can opt in, but the bill does not require smaller cities to hold public votes on annexation issues. The Senate-approved bill also includes a provision allowing cities to control development within a five-mile area around military bases. The lack of that provision helped kill an earlier version of the bill in May. Officials from San Antonio in particular had a problem with any bill that did not include that kind of buffer.

Not all legislators like the bill in its final version. Republican State Sen. Bob Hall said that all cities in Texas deserve level protection. He told the Houston Chronicle that it’s "disappointing that not everyone will be covered."