The 85th Texas Legislature’s successful passage of Senate Bill 6 during the first called special session launched the most significant annexation reform seen in the Lone Star State for many years. Among other things, the Texas Annexation Right to Vote Act (TARVA) prohibits certain cities from annexing property owners who reside in the extraterritorial jurisdiction without their consent. In place of the practice, lawmakers created a new system that requires affected cities to hold an election on the question of annexation.

While TARVA changed the system for the better, the new law falls short in one key area: it does not protect all Texans from being forcibly annexed.

For the most part, only cities located in counties with populations greater than 500,000 or more are required to ask before annexing under TARVA. Everyone else is still subject to the old rules. However, TARVA does include the prospect of relief for property owners residing in unaffected areas, i.e., an opt-in election provision.

As proposed, HB 1038 provides a more detailed breakdown of the opt-in election process so that each step is described.