De-annexation debate cools in summer study

The hot topic of de-annexation was the subject of discourse by “cooler heads” during a legislative study committee hearing Monday than in the legislative session earlier this year, reports the Tennessean.

Several speakers, including Doug McGowen, chief operation officer for the city of Memphis, said while they have pushed back against the de-annexation legislation before, they aren’t necessarily diametrically opposed to it.

“We are, however, all in on the notion that we should work together to ensure that everyone who has a stake in the de-annexation game has a voice in the process,” he said. McGowen asked lawmakers to use a “locally-controlled, data driven” process that includes all stakeholders.

…Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, who chaired the special committee and said the panel had completed its task.

Following the meeting, Ketron said he felt the discussion was helpful, adding, “I think we kinda fleshed out a lot of questions today.”

But Watson disagreed. “I don’t think I heard anything I haven’t heard in the previous roughly 11 hours of testimony while we were in session,” Watson said. “Most of this is ground that’s already been plowed before.”

When asked if he plans to file another de-annexation bill during the upcoming legislation session, Watson said he would take information provided in Monday’s hearing and from the Memphis task force and work on another bill.

“We’re trying to work towards a win-win situation where it’s difficult to create win-wins,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’re trying to represent citizens who were put under city government with no voice in whether that occurred or not.”