In a big win for property rights in the Lone Star State, Texans are about to be freed from the unfair practice of forced annexation.

A bill to stop all cities in Texas from annexing property without owners’ consent has passed the state House and Senate and is headed to the governor’s desk. Texas is one of just a handful of states that allows forced annexation, though the practice was partially curtailed last session.

House Bill 347 by State Rep. Phil King (R–Weatherford) extends the limited annexation reform enacted in 2017 to all 254 Texas counties and eliminates the unequal two-tier system it created.

“If today it’s wrong to forcibly annex property in 16 counties, it ought to be wrong in all the other 238 counties in Texas,” King said.

Under the current system, only cities in a small number of populous counties designated “Tier 2” (with 500,000 or more residents) are required to ask permission before annexing unincorporated property. In smaller “Tier 1” counties, cities can annex property without owners’ consent—unless county residents vote to adopt protected Tier 2 status. A provision added last session by King allowed residents to petition for a vote on the issue by gathering signatures from at least 10 percent of their counties’ registered voters.

Voters in six counties approved ballot propositions last November to ban forced annexation locally, and two more counties joined them this May. But in the vast majority of Texas counties, forced annexation is still allowed.

Once King’s bill is signed into law by the governor, all Texas property owners will be equally protected from future land grabs by cities looking to expand into neighboring unincorporated territory against the wishes of the landowners.

King credits grassroots support from constituents like Laura Hester and Bryson Boyd, who led local efforts to end forced annexation in their counties, with helping him pass the statewide property rights protection.

Forced annexation is unfair and un-Texan. It’s about time it ended.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.