Anti Annexation Bill Advances as 'Bathroom Bill' Appears Doomed

The Special Session of the Legislature has finally begun to dispose of bills as the deadline looms on Wednesday, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The Texas House has given preliminary approval to a compromise measure that severely limits San Antonio's ability to annex neighborhoods, but also protects the military bases.

The compromise requires that residents of an area to be annexed first receive the approval in an election of the people who live there.  But it allows the city to regulate development within five miles of military facilities, which was a key demand of city officials and of Joint Base San Antonio.

The bill now goes back to the State Senate, which approved only a quarter mile buffer around the bases.

State Sen. Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) who killed the bill with a last minute filibuster in the Regular Session as hinted he mount one again.

Conservatives, including Gov. Abbott, support limiting a city's ability to annex without the consent of those in the annexed area, calling it taxation without representation, since the new city residents would be government by a mayor and city council they didn't select, would have to pay city taxes they had no voice in approving, and would have to pay city debt that they had no voice in creating.

City leaders say annexation allows growing cities to follow development to the suburbs and exurbs, and point out that the vast majority of people who live in annexed areas work and shop in San Antonio, where they use city services without paying the property taxes that fund them.

Lawmakers also passed and set to Abbott a bill to increase penalties for mail in ballot fraud.

But as for the most controversial measure of the Special Session, the bill to limit transgender bathroom rights, even supporters are hinting that it is dead for the current session.

The measure restricts the use of public restrooms in government buildings and schools to the gender on the user's birth certificate, and overturns local 'non discrimination ordinances' which allow people to use the rest room and shower room that matches their 'gender identity.'  The bill is supported by movement and evangelical conservatives, but is loudly opposed by nearly everybody else, including business and tourism groups which warned it would cost the state billions of dollars in lost conventions, special events, and new employers.

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