MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Tennessee State Senator Mark Norris (R-Collierville) announced that he would withdraw two bills regarding annexation, specifically aimed at Memphis and an annex reserve in Shelby County, due to constitutional problems.
"As anticipated, the Attorney General has confirmed these bills are constitutionally suspect," said Norris. "They will be withdrawn during next Monday's meeting of the State Senate."
The bills would have prevented the City of Memphis from annexing a portion of East Shelby County, including Fisherville, from a reserve area agreed upon by municipalities in 1999.
The bills, drafted by House sponsors Curry Todd (R-Collierville) and Ron Lollar (R-Bartlett), caused an uproar among city lawmakers. Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and Memphis City Council members accused state legislators of a 'power play' trying to tell Memphis how to do its own business.
"There has been a systematic approach to reduce the influence of the citizens of Memphis, to regulate the growth we are experiencing and control it from the outside," stated Councilman Harold Collins.
Senator Norris said he simply did what his constituents wanted, which was to not be annexed by the city. In turn, the city council fast-tracked their annexation efforts, which passed the first of three readings.
"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," Norris said.
The city annexation plan is scheduled on the next council meeting's agenda; it is not clear if the plan will be dropped in light of the bills' withdrawal.