(NASHVILLE, TN), February 9, 2012 — Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) confirmed today that two bills held on the Senate desk at his request will be withdrawn due to constitutional problems. Senate Bills 3702 and 3703 regarding annexation and municipal boundaries were filed earlier in the legislative session at the request of residents in his district and sponsors in the House of Representatives. Norris made the announcement after receiving an opinion from State Attorney General Robert Cooper this afternoon.
“As anticipated, the Attorney General has confirmed these bills are constitutionally suspect,” said Leader Norris. “They will be withdrawn during next Monday’s meeting of the State Senate.”
Norris said he took the bills drafted by House sponsors Curry Todd (R-Collierville) and Ron Lollar (R-Bartlett) out of concern for their mutual constituents and the Constitution. Recent consolidation initiatives by the City of Memphis sparked new concerns last year about the viability of annexation reserve agreements between the seven cities of Shelby County.
“The subject of these bills is very important to our constituents,” said Senator Norris. “Citizens in these communities want their voices to be heard which was the impetus for filing the legislation. New residents, however, are often unaware of the longstanding agreements concerning annexation and urban, planned growth and rural areas in Shelby County under current law and how this effort can run afoul of the state’s Constitution. Although we felt this would likely be the outcome, it was important enough to our constituents to file the bills and get the Attorney General’s opinion.”
Norris added, “I think there are better ways to go about this. Several Memphis City Council members seem interested in opening a dialogue about future annexations. Mayors Wharton and Luttrell are willing to do so, and the Tennessee code provides other alternatives, too — so perhaps something good will come out of this.”