House Bill 451 — Annexation of forest land

House Bill 451 — Annexation of forest land

by
Lindsay Atkinson
February 10, 2020
Lindsay Atkinson
February 10, 2020

Bill description: HB 451 would prohibit cities from annexing five acres or more of forest land without the consent of a landowner.

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Does it in any way restrict public access to information related to government activity or otherwise compromise government transparency or accountability? Conversely, does it increase public access to information related to government activity or increase government transparency or accountability?

HB 451 would limit the power of city councils to forcibly annex private property without the consent of the landowners. If city councilors wish to annex a plot of forest land larger than five acres, they would have to get “the express written permission of the owner.” By creating this requirement, HB 451 would protect landowners from city councils seeking to force them into the city without public input.

By annexing new land, city councilors can increase their budgets, increase their tax revenues, and otherwise increase their power. HB 451 would hold city councilors accountable when it comes to annexing new forest land. Rather than having all the power for annexation in the hands of the councilors, landowners would be able to decide whether or not to join the city.

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Does it violate the principle of equal protection under the law? Examples include laws which discriminate or differentiate based on age, gender, or religion or which apply laws, regulations, rules, or penalties differently based on such characteristics. Conversely, does it restore or protect the principle of equal protection under the law?

HB 451 would provide a specific carve-out for forest land larger than five acres from the current annexation law. The only other three classes of property under a similar exemption are county-owned parcels used as fairgrounds, property of 50 acres or more devoted to public recreation, and agricultural land of 5 acres or more. HB 451 would give preferential treatment to both those who own large plots of land and to those who are engaged in forestry.

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