Lawmakers approve annexation protection for north Pinellas
After the full Senate approved today, restrictions on annexing the East Lake area of north Pinellas County have passed the Legislature.
The so-called "all or nothing" bill by Rep. Peter Nehr and state Sen. Mike Fasano forces cities to annex the entire community, and voter approval to boot. The bill, which has a 2022 sunset requirement, took three years of efforts for lawmakers to approve. The House approved it without opposition last week.
From the Council of North County Neighborhoods, which long sought the bill:
"... Representative Peter Nehr and Senator Mike Fasano, co-sponsors of the bill ... advocated for the bills (sic) passage in Tallahasee for the past three years. Representative Nehr who overcame many hurdles and objections was able to continuously steer the bill through the various committees until it finally reached the House floor for a vote. Senator Fasano who has always supported the East Lake residents helped the bill move through the Senate. The bill passed 116-0 in the House and 39-0 in the Senate.
"The birth of the bill occured after an annexation attempt of East Lake Woodlands community of over 5,000 voters by the City of Oldsmar during a referendum in 2009. The voters of East Lake Woodlands defeated the referendum by a vote of 92% against annexation. This lead to an effort by CNCN and members of the East Lake communities to try to prevent annexation attempts in the future. After two previous attempts in the legislature and some fine tuning of the 2012 bill the legislation finally passed this year."