NASHVILLE - After encountering stiff opposition, two Hamilton County legislators today agreed to amend their anti-annexation bill with the measure now imposing a statewide moratorium on all annexations until June 30, 2015, giving state officials a "time out" to do a comprehensive study of the issue.
Senate State and Local Government Committee members unanimously approved the compromise, which would halt all current annexation efforts by ordinance as of April 1. It now goes to the Calendar Committee where it will be scheduled for the Senate floor.
The bill's Senate sponsor, Bo Watson, R-Hixson, later acknowledged, "I don't have the votes to get this out [of committee] , but this needs to be fixed."
His original bill, sponsored in the House by Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, would have required majority approval by voters in the territory slated for annexation before a municipality could act. Under state law, cities can simply annex land within their urban growth boundaries through annexation.
Earlier, Watson told committee members that "the burden should be on the annexing authority to prove why it's in the citizens' best interests to be annexed."
Carter's companion bill was deferred March 20 by the House Finance Subcommittee to be heard in a special hearing on annexation measures.