Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper says annex laws constitutional

photo Attorney General Robert Cooper gestures during an interview.
Arkansas-Tennessee Live Blog

NASHVILLE - Tennessee cities' use of annexation by ordinance generally meets muster under both the Tennessee and U.S. Constitutions, State Attorney General Robert Cooper says.

In his new legal opinion, Cooper says the process “absent invidious [tending to raise resentment] discrimination or an intent to circumvent the ‘one person, one vote’ principle, annexation by municipal ordinance is constitutional.”

According to Cooper, neither constitution “recognizes a right for a person to retain his or her real property in a particular unit of local government.”

The Tennessee Constitution grants state lawmakers the “exclusive authority to develop the process for creating and altering municipal boundaries in the state.”

Under legislation sponsored by Rep. Mike Carter, R-Ooltewah, and Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, the state this year imposed a temporary moratorium on annexations by ordinance. That was intended to give the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, a joint state and local research group, time to study the state’s current annexation procedures and how the system has worked since a landmark planning requirement passed in 1999.

The legal opinion was sought by Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport.

In yet another Cooper opinion released Monday, the attorney general says state Department of Health family life educators are immune from a 2012 law that says educators in public schools “may not endorse ‘student non abstinence’ as an appropriate or acceptable behavior” or promote “gateway sexual activity.”

The opinion was requested by state Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner.