The House Finance Committee on Thursday, June 12th dealt a blow to cities in North Carolina that prefer to annex new territory without the consent of that area’s citizens. North Carolina is one of the few states that allow forcible annexation and anger has been building out in the hinterland for years. Just last week, hundreds of local activists rallied in front of the Legislature and protested forcible annexation’s biggest supporter, the taxpayer supported NC League of Municipalities.
A study commission was appointed during last year’s long session to examine the use of forced annexation in North Carolina. That commission endorsed a one year moratorium on involuntary annexations in order to take a closer look at the issue.
The House Finance Committee heard testimony from citizens as well as government funded lobbyists and had a robust debate by members. Rep. Prior Gibson (D-Anson) attempted to gut the moratorium by amending the bill in an attempt to reduce the moratorium from 12 months to 6 months in what was most likely a test vote. Gibson called on legislators to show "political courage" by turning their collective backs on their constituents and stand up with big government. The members of the committee soundly rejected Gibson’s amendment by a voice vote.
Ultimately, the committee voted in favor of stopping forcible annexations for one year by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of 25 to 4.
Members voting to support stopping forcible annexation:
Curtis Blackwood (R-Union), John Blust (R-Guilford), Becky Carney (D-Mecklenburg), Tricia Cotham (D-Mecklenburg), Bill Daughtridge (R-Nash), Bill Faison (D-Orange), Dale Folwell (R-Forsyth), Larry Hall (D-Durham), Jim Harrell (D-Surry), Dewey Hill (D-Columbus), Julia Howard (R-Davie), Ed Jones (D-Guilford), David Lewis (R-Harnett), Paul Luebke (D-Durham), Danny McComas (R-New Hanover), Bill McGee (R- Forsyth), Deborah Ross (D-Wake), Mitch Setzer (R-Catawba), Paul Stam (R-Wake), Edgar Starnes (R-Caldwell), Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg), William Wainwright (D-Craven), Trudi Walend (R-Transylvania), Jennifer Weiss (D-Cary) and Larry Womble (D-Forsyth).
Members voting to continue forcible annexation:
Kelly Alexander (D-Mecklenburg), Jean Farmer Butterfield (D-Wilson), Pryor Gibson (D-Anson) and Bill Owens (D-Pasquotank).
House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman (D-Davidson) abstained from voting.
The next stop for the bill is the House’s Judiciary 2 Committee. If successful there, the bill would next go to the floor of the whole House and then onto the Senate.