Bill description: HB 565 provides for an annexation process, to add land into flood control districts.
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 565 would provide a new annexation process, to add land into flood control districts (currently no annexation process exists). This process appears to be entirely voluntary on the part of those who want their land added into the district boundaries. Landowners can petition for their land to be annexed by including in the petition “a legal description of the lands proposed to be annexed and any other information the district may require, and the petitioners shall state under oath that petitioners hold title to the lands.” This bill also allows guardians and administrators of estates who are “entitled to the possession of the lands belonging to the estate” to petition for annexation.
So the petition process is described as being voluntary, but the ultimate decision on annexation lies with the district commissioners. It is not put up to a public vote. Without a vote, the only voice landowners in the existing district boundaries have against annexation is at a hearing before the commissioners. And the commissioners can completely ignore public input and annex land even if existing landowners in the district are against such annexation.
Does it increase government redistribution of wealth? Examples include the use of tax policy or other incentives to reward specific interest groups, businesses, politicians, or government employees with special favors or perks; transfer payments; and hiring additional government employees. Conversely, does it decrease government redistribution of wealth?
Annexing new land into an existing taxing district can redistribute wealth. Depending on when land is annexed, it may be months before it starts sending tax dollars to the district. And there is no provision in the law to exclude district projects from newly annexed land, or not use district resources there. So, until the district receives the first property tax collection from newly annexed land, existing property tax payers in the district may have some of their tax dollars used to provide services for the newly annexed area.
Analyst’s Note: Normally, this index’s rating of annexation-related bills considers the taxes imposed after annexation. However, this bill includes language that indicates all petitions for annexation will be voluntary. Thus, petitioners would be voluntarily entering into new taxation. But the language of the bill is not completely clear on whether the petition submitted by a landowner can only be a petition to annex the land they own, or if it can include other land, not owned by them. Essentially, whether their authority as a landowner is just to annex their own land or if their authority is to start a petition that can also propose other lands near them for annexation.
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