By LYNETTE HAALAND
Four Points News
The final version of Senate Bill 715, the anti-annexation bill, passed the House on Sunday, but was filibustered by Senate Democrats. As a result, the Senate never got to vote on the bill as the 85th Texas Legislative Session came to a close at midnight on Sunday. A special session is the last hope for bill supporters.
“SB 715 was filibustered to death Sunday night by Senators who favor a big government and big-city, municipal-lobby agenda over a community’s right to choose its own destiny,” said Tim Mattox, an 18-year resident of River Place and a member of the homeowners association board.
Leading up to the filibuster, the House passed an amended version of Texas Senate Bill 715, which would give property owners the right to vote for or against municipal annexation. The bill passed by the House included, among other things, language that positively impacted River Place. Because the versions of the bill were different, it went to a conference committee made up of five senators and five representatives. They agreed on the final version of SB 715, which also included language favorable to River Place, Mattox said.
River Place is scheduled to be fully annexed by Austin on Dec. 15 and leaders believe annexation will bring higher taxes and fewer services to their community. They also want to draw attention to the fact that other local communities may be next on Austin’s annexation list.
Many River Place residents and the River Place Homeowners Association have been backing this bill. Leaders now say the next step for supporters of SB 715 is to reach out to Gov. Greg Abbott.
Mattox said that given how the bill died, Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels believes that local efforts could make an impact. Campbell is the bill’s main sponsor and supporter of River Place’s amendment.
Her chief of staff reached out to River Place leaders directly in hopes that enough folks will join forces with other communities to show the governor how important this bill is to all Texans, Mattox said.
“We are currently joining forces with other Texas communities in reaching out to the governor to see if he will include SB 715 as part of any special session,” Mattox said. “It is a long shot, but at this point it is our only hope of getting River Place and other Four Points communities a say in whether or not they will be annexed by the city of Austin.”
Lobbyist Roger Borgelt, of Borgelt Law, and others are reaching out to the governor.
“We are doing it now, he will likely be making his decision this week on what to include (in a special session),” Borgelt said.
The community can weigh in by calling the governor’s office by phone (512) 463-1782 and via his web site (https://gov.texas.gov/contact/).