Rep. Carter’s Rebuttal to the Knoxville News Sentinel article that: “Law Makers should move more slowly on annexation”.
We encourage allies to access www.Right2VoteTN.org for information about the campaign to End Forced Annexation in Tennessee.
In a recent Knoxnews article on annexation in Tennessee, the editorial board argued “Law makers should move more slowly on annexation.”
With all due respect to the authors, could Tennessee lawmakers move any slower? A bill to provide for a vote on annexation has been before the house every year for the last 37 years.
The rest of America has already left Tennessee behind on an issue that affects tens of thousands of Tennessee property owners every year. Forty-seven other states have already acted to end forced annexation by giving their citizens a right to vote or other statutory protections.
In 2013, The Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) was directed by the legislature to study the issue and make a recommendation. Municipalities were primarily concerned that giving Tennesseans the right to vote on annexation would hurt economic growth and viability. TACIR’s study found ‘the claim that expanding cities boundaries is essential to economic growth cannot be fully demonstrated,’ and that ‘analyses of multiple cities have mixed results, with no conclusive evidence that annexations results in increased efficiency, revenue, wealth or equity.’
This was always a dubious assertion. TACIR’s own report noted that over the ten year period of study Nevada, North Dakota, and Utah – all right to vote states – led the nation in population growth, real GDP and personal income, and job growth per capita, respectively.
Another study sighted by opponents of the right to vote says that cities with greater ability to annex have higher bond ratings. But is it really that simple? Memphis, for example, has led Tennessee in forced annexations and has one of the worst bond ratings in the state.
In light of these findings, which completely debunk opponents’ main argument against giving Tennesseans the right to vote on annexation, one would have expected TACIR to recommend swift action from the legislature, finally bringing Tennessee in line with the rest of the country by granting its citizens the right to vote. Instead, with many lawmakers up for re-election, it recommended another year of study.
With no real evidence to support the argument that the right to vote hurts economic growth and development of municipalities, opponents of the right to vote are now pointing out that the Urban Growth Act of 1998, which allows cities to annex without a vote within established boundaries, ‘has been approved by county commissions,’ and as a result, Tennesseans did have a vote on annexation.
This is another very dubious assertion.
The reality is that county commissions did not get to vote on whether or not cities could annex without a vote, only where they could annex. They could only approve expansion and had no authority to limit the urban growth boundary.
In Knox County, for example, the county commission voted to limit the urban growth boundary to the then existing Knoxville city limits only to be overruled. The Knox county commission had no authority to restrain the cities growth, only to shape it.
The editorial describes the concept of the right to vote as ‘complicated’ and ‘populist.’ Complicated in political speak means that the liberal position is so wrong and offensive to public opinion that only a misleading, one word response can be risked.
Liberals use ‘populist’ pejoratively when everyone agrees that the public is too ignorant to vote correctly on such complicated issues as forced annexation.
A government that doesn’t trust its citizens with the right to vote will find it increasingly difficult to be trusted by those same citizens.
State Representative District 29
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