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Judge Rules State's Plan To Stop Bloomington Annexation Is Unconstitutional

Bloomington annexation map

(City of Bloomington)

A judge says the state’s decision to block Bloomington’s annexation plan is unconstitutional.

State lawmakers inserted language in the budget bill in 2017 that halted the annexation.

Bloomington officials said it was a clear case of legislative overreach.

In his decision Thursday Judge Frank Nardi wrote that the legislation violated the state constitution’s single subject clause because it was included in the budget bill.

Nardi also said it was unconstitutional because Bloomington’s annexation attempt specifically was singled out. He said there wasn’t anything unique about Bloomington’s annexation action.

“The defendant appears to argue that it would be a unique characteristic for a governmental body to diligently follow the requirements of a state statute. Such conduct is not unique and is certainly not unique to the City of Bloomington’s actions,” Nardi wrote.

The state said the plan to annex nearly 10,000 acres was too large and didn’t give residents enough time to give feedback.

Nardi noted that public opposition to acts of government is something that happens regularly and is not “unique to the City of Bloomington or its annexation action.”

“If the General Assembly desires to protect the citizens of this state from a ‘hasty’, ‘hurried’, or ‘urgent’ action by a municipality following the requirements of Indiana law by imposing some type of mens rea on the process, the General Assembly should define the same and provide the same protection for all citizens of Indiana who might be affected by such action,” Nardi wrote.

The state declined to comment on the case and whether it might appeal the judge's decision. The state has until May 20 to file an appeal.

In a Friday afternoon press release, Mayor John Hamilton said he was pleased with the ruling.

"The ruling vindicates the constitutional principle prohibiting special legislation at the state level singling out municipalities for unfair treatment," he says.

 

City Of Bloomington Annexation Lawsuit by Indiana Public Media News on Scribd

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