Proposals face long journey By Connie Nowlin Managing editor
Published 7:34 am Wednesday, July 16, 2003
From proposed annexation to law is a complicated route
When the question of annexation is raised, there are many facets of the question to be examined.
It may be addressed by a vote of the residents, by legislative measure, or by council approval.
While the legalities of a town annexing land may have to be hashed out in court, the process of annexation via legislature is complicated, too.
In order to annex, the body that wishes to annex must follow the steps to do so, properly and in order.
First, the annexing body must prepare a bill. This is usually done by a legal reference service, rather than an individual that works for the municipality, although that would also be one way to have the bill drawn up.
Once the bill is prepared, it must be advertised in four consecutive issues in a newspaper in the area affected by the annexation. Frequently this is the first notice that citizens may have of the town's intent to annex a piece of land, especially if there are no residences on the area to be annexed.
When the advertisement period has been completed, the municipality must then provide proof of advertisement. This is usually copies of the paper along with a signed, notorized affidavit of publication.
This proof is required before the bill may be presented at the legislative session.
In the meantime, a sponsor for the bill, usually the representative or senator from the area, must sign on to present the bill to the legislature.
Senators and representatives don't endorse just any bill that lands on their desk.
"I look at the issue," said state Sen. Pat Lindsey, D-Pollard.
"If I'm opposed, I won't support it (the bill)."
In order to gain his support, Lindsey said, a proposed bill must meet his criteria.
"I want to know how it will affect the community and my constituents," he said. "If it's beneficial and helps the community, I'll support it. That's my job."
When the bill has gotten a sponsor, it may be added to the legislative calendar.
This is the first reading. A bill must be read three times before it becomes a law.
The proposed law will be sent to committee next. Which committee is determined by two things, the issue it deals with, and the legislator who presents it.
For example, annexation goes to the governmental affairs committee. Whether it is heard in front of the house committee or the senate committee depends on whether a representative or a state senator presented the bill.
When the proposed bill has been before the first committee, it is reported on and sent to the other branch of the legislature, to the same committee for a second hearing.
When the second hearing has been completed, the committee reports and recommendations are read. This is considered the second reading of the bill. It is then placed the calendar for the next legislative day. If the bill would affect state funding by more than $1,000 it must have a fiscal note attached as well.
The bill, with its recommendations, is then considered and voted on by the entire house of origin. This is the third reading. It then goes to the other house of the legislature to go through the same process.
So what of the proposed annexation in Escambia County?
It is now at the stage of gathering the proof of publication and will soon be searching for a sponsor.
According to Mayor Howard Shell, it has not been decided who will sponsor the annexation proposal. However, Lindsey is familiar with the topic and it is quite likely he will champion the bill in the senate.