Were it not for one state senator’s filibuster defending city bureaucrats, homeowners living just outside of a municipality’s jurisdiction would have been given commonsense protections against unilateral annexation.
Unfortunately, State Sen. Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) opted to do the dirty work for municipal bureaucrats – aggressively filibustering SB 715 before the deadline Saturday, ultimately killing a bill that would have restored property rights for those living just outside of city limits.
Under current law, homeowners have zero recourse if a nearby municipality decides to annex their homes into its jurisdiction. This means that they can see their taxes dramatically increase – and their government representation change – without any say in the matter whatsoever. SB 715 would have reformed the annexation process by simply giving these homeowners a vote on the matter.
Here’s the thing: homeowners often live outside of city limits deliberately, for a variety of reasons – whether it’s skyrocketing property taxes, poor infrastructure, or overbearing regulations. Forced annexation, as is current law, completely deprives homeowners of that autonomy.
That’s exactly the situation in San Antonio – where homeowners just outside of the city have been protesting the aggressive annexation plans that threaten to skyrocket their property taxes and provide little in return. The city has been so fervent in its pursuit of increasing its tax base, it has violated the Texas Constitution in doing so – providing services so inadequate that first responders’ radios can’t even reach the newly annexed area.
Unsurprisingly, tax-funded lobbyists and establishmentarians from San Antonio rushed to the capitol to lobby against SB 715. Although they were in the minority, the efforts of these tax-funded lobbyists were not in vain: Menendez heard their prayers, and filibustered the bill to death on the Senate floor shortly before the deadline Saturday night – pointing to the removal of a provision allowing land-use regulations around military bases.
Menendez cloaked his shameless defense of local government bureaucrats in an ironic veneer of pro-military rhetoric, saying, “How could I sit idly by and not try to do what I could to defend the military bases?”
Good thing those poor, defenseless military bases had a Democrat senator to defend them – one shudders to think what might have happened.
State Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels), who authored the bill and is well-known for her unabashed military support, decried Saturday’s actions and called Menendez’s filibuster a ‘black eye’ on those who believe in democracy.
“There is no American ideal more important than the right to vote, and yet that is exactly the ideal that was defeated tonight by those doing the dirty work of Austin, San Antonio, and Houston lobbyists as they ran out the clock on the will of the people,” said Campbell.