We must protect the sweet fruit of the liberty tree.
The move to swiftly force-annex large swaths of land before the new law on annexation takes effect December 1, 2017, is raising the ire of our constituents.
I do commend the Mesquite Mayor and City Council members for the high level of respect and professionalism with which they have conducted these meetings and treated citizens. However, with malice towards none, and respect for all in local government, I respectfully oppose this accelerated process to forcefully annex property.
My objection is principled, not personal. I understand that had SB 715 not been filibustered in the Regular 85th Legislative Session, we would not be having this discussion today.
Unfortunately, the bill that did pass, SB 6, in the special session did not affect all Texas cities equally. While I did vote for SB 6, I was in support of the version that treated all citizens and cities equally. I will be fighting for that change in the next session.
I am not a tree hugger, but I am a lover of the Liberty Tree. Two of the sweetest fruits of the Liberty tree are “individual rights” and “property rights.” They are two of the inalienable, God-given rights that our Founding Fathers cherished dearly. Forced annexation violates both of these fruits of the tree. Thus, the Governor and State Legislature listened to the protests of the people and took action with legislation to begin ending forced annexation. They did so because when the fruits of the Tree of Liberty are threatened, it not just the responsibility, but the duty, of the state government to protect those fruits.
State government is the original, of-the-people, by-the-people, governing body charged to protect individual rights and liberties.
Remember, government has “authority” but only people have “rights.” Government bodies have no rights, and the authority that they do have is given to them by state government. The people first formed the state government. Then state governments formed the federal government and gave it limited authority. That authority is well defined and limited by the U.S. Constitution. The state government also created the governing bodies within the state. All municipalities within Texas derive their authority (again, “authorities” not “rights”) from the state through charters and state law.
When the people see than an authority is being misused, abused, or no longer serving its intended purpose, it is the right of the people to withdraw the authority given to that governing body. That is exactly what has happened with forced annexation – an authority which the people are now saying violates their basic God-given rights.
The people have spoken very loudly and clearly through their original governing authority, the state legislature, that the authority given to local government, which allows forced annexation, clearly violates both individual rights and property rights and therefore must be ended.
The misuse of the standard 90-day window which delayed the implementation of SB 6 to allow for any adjustment in regulations, and for public awareness, undermines public trust in all levels of government. The people elect officials trusting that in serving they will first protect individual rights.
The legislative process is imperfect. Compromises are made, population bracketing is included, effective dates are adjusted – not for perfect legislation, but so that it will pass. Clearly, the intent of the majority of the legislature was to give citizens in the largest counties the right to vote on annexation plans. An accelerated process to circumvent the will and best interests of the people is inconsistent with the principles on which our great nation was founded.
People should have a right to vote on whether or not they want to live within your city limits. They obviously have chosen to live outside the limits for a reason, and the city should not arbitrarily decide it is time to move the boundaries.
As elected officials, I urge you to remember the constituents you serve. You are forcing citizens to become your constituents who may not want to be. That may seem prudent in the short term, but consider the long-term ramifications you are setting into place.
Unlike Eastern bloc governments which are based on “collective” rights granted by their governments, the American Constitutional Republic form of government is based on the protection of inalienable individual rights; rights granted to man by God, not governments.
There is no question that forced annexation violates principles of liberty, individual rights, and property rights. A vote against this forced annexation is a vote for the people. It is a vote to preserve the sweet fruits of the Liberty Tree.
Senator Bob Hall