The House engrossed version of HB 1038 seeks to amend current law to clarify the opt-in election process created under last session’s Senate Bill 6.

During the first called special session of the 85th Texas Legislature, lawmakers passed SB 6 or the Texas Annexation Right to Vote Act (TARVA), which brought about the most significant annexation reform seen in many years. Among other things, TARVA prohibits certain cities from annexing property owners who reside in an extraterritorial jurisdiction without their consent. Affected cities are instead required to hold an election on the question of annexation and win approval from the majority before proceeding.

The changes made by TARVA were monumental; however, if the bill had a shortcoming it was that its effects were limited to only certain geographic regions. It did not protect all Texans against forced annexation.

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 system, unless registered voters in the area take proactive steps to come under the law’s protections.