Another Twist on Annexation
The latest proposal from the state legislature to restrict city annexations in North Carolina comes with an interesting provision.
The measure would not only ask North Carolina voters to incorporate into the state constitution a voting requirement to approve involuntary annexations. It would require that two-thirds of voters in those areas approve the annexation.
In other words, one-third of voters, plus one, in an annexed area could deny two-thirds, minus one, the right to municipal services in exchange for paying city or town property taxes.
Upon reflection, I've come to the conclusion that this idea has merit if applied properly. And by applied properly, I mean it should be applied to politicians, not policy.
That's right, given the state of political polarization in the country, why not apply a two-thirds vote requirement in order for a candidate to assume office?
Sure, a lot of political offices might be left vacant for a while, or require multiple rounds of elections to be filled, but what is more important than having some real political consensus among a politician's constituents before that person assumes office?
Besides, do we really need all these politicians anyway? I think we could do without a bunch of them for a while.
With that in mind, I went back and examined the last election to see who would make the cut, here in North Carolina, with our new supermajority requirement in place.
Unfortunately for our congressional delegation, all but three - Democrats Mel Watt, David Price and G.K. Butterfield - would have to go. I guess there is a lesson for mapmakers that like packing and stacking and whacking the opposing political party.
The news, not so surprisingly, would be no better for our statewide elected officials. Only Attorney General Roy Cooper, who ended up unopposed, would make the cut.
But maybe without political interference, state agencies might actually run themselves better.
As for the legislature, only 28, instead of 50, state senators would have met the standard, and only 71, rather than 120, state House members would have received the prerequisite number of votes.
Debate on the floors of both the House and Senate would surely go a lot smoother.
The two sponsors of the annexation bill, Republican Reps. Larry Pittman of Cabarrus County and Jon Hardister of Guilford County, made it through.
Well, there is always the next election for believers in minority rule.
When it comes to annexation itself, last year state legislators passed a law requiring that 50 percent of voters approve an involuntary annexation in local referenda before cities and towns can bring in new territory.
They also required that 60 percent of residents sign petitions before a series of local annexations that legislators undid could begin anew.
No big deal.
Rumor has it that Democrats, when they take back power, plan on allowing cities to impose tolls on county residents to enter their fair territory. Seventy-five percent of residents can vote to block the tolls.
Scott Mooneyham writes for Capitol Press Association in Raleigh. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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