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Opinion: N.C. lawmakers should oppose forced annexation

Tyler Spaugh
Paul Heckert

Tyler SpaughNorth Carolina is one of just six states that permit a practice called “forced annexation.” That could soon change if some state lawmakers have their way.

Forced annexation is a long-standing state policy that allows a city to annex members of the surrounding countryside with or without the approval of those being annexed. Earlier this month, 79 state representatives introduced a bill to the North Carolina General Assembly that would allow the voters to decide on the issue.

This bill would require a two-thirds vote by the residents of the area that is being considered for annexation, but it will have to work its way through Raleigh and into the voting booth first, according to an article in the Watauga Democrat.

The bill will be voted on by the state legislature and, if passed, placed on a ballot for a vote by the citizens of North Carolina in similar fashion to the May 8 Amendment One vote. Amendment One passed with almost two-thirds of the vote, and I suspect this bill would garner even greater support than that.

Forced annexation is akin to state-sanctioned robbery. Allowing cities to simply decide that any given resident is now part of their city, and therefore must pay taxes to that city and comply with their ordinances, is far from the ideals of a constitutional republic.

Cities do provide some beneficial services in exchange for those tax dollars, such as garbage pickup or sewage. Whether or not the provided services are of equal value to the taxes paid, under no circumstances should a resident be forced to accept the new taxes and services without democratic process.

This policy is a potential violation of the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of assembly, which is protected by the First Amendment. Forcing someone to be a part of a group without their consent certainly goes against the spirit of the law, if not the letter.

Someone once described a democracy, as opposed to a republic, as two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for dinner. We have laws to protect the vulnerable from the powerful.

Forced annexation laws have allowed the cities – in this case, the wolves – to forgo giving the residents – the sheep – a vote at all. 

I’m not sure that I’m prepared to compare state lawmakers to our shepherds, but hopefully they’ll put this issue on the ballot and let us sheep decide for ourselves.

 

Spaugh, a freshman accounting major from Winston-Salem, is an opinion writer.

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