De-annexation vote delayed; bill returns to committee

De-annexation bill vote delayed; bill returns to committee

NASHVILLE, TN (WMC) - The controversial de-annexation bill scheduled to be voted on in the Tennessee Senate on Monday was instead sent back to committee for review.

In a unanimous vote, state senators agreed to send the bill back to state and local committees for debate. The bill would allow communities such as and Hickory Hill to break away from larger cities.

"I'm glad the Senate decided to send the de-annexation bill to committee for further review. I look forward to working with members of the committee and all senators to educate them on the drastic impact the bill could have in Memphis and our region," Mayor Jim Strickland said in a statement.

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland is strongly opposed to the bill. He warned that, if passed, the bill would require everyone on both sides of newly-drawn lines to pay more taxes.

South Cordova resident Nathan Rast said his neighborhood was just fine being a part of the county before the city took over.

"We've been against it [annexation] from the very beginning," Rast said. "We haven't really seen any increase of services given to us."

State Senator Lee Harris, who represents Memphis, pleaded to his fellow congressman Monday morning. His plea worked, as they decided to send the bill back to committee for more debate.

"If we're going to do a big bill like this--and we might be inclined to do so--then we got to be intentional about it," Tennessee Sen. Harris said. "We've got to be as fully informed as possible."

Harris wrote to Attorney General Herbert Slatery III last week, asking for an opinion on whether the bill is even constitutional.

He was among several lawmakers who spoke about the high likelihood the current version of the bill would go directly to the courts.

"I think the effort to re-refer back to committee is an effort to make sure that committee members are privy to the known information about the bill," Harris said.

Even some supporters of the bill--like Tennessee Senator Mark Norris of Collierville--said the version of the bill that the House passed was flawed, and he agreed it was worth taking another look at the bill's implications.

"I support what we are doing here, but unbeknownst to any of us, there was some collateral damage done," Norris said.

Meanwhile, Rast hopes the Senate will go back to the original version of the bill--which included fewer areas for de-annexation--so things can move forward.

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