Several proposed bills that would help ease The Woodlands’ potential transition from township to city are moving through the Texas Legislature.

Senate Bills 1014 and 1015 were heard in committee April 10, while the companion legislation, House Bill 2110, was heard in committee April 18. If signed into law, the bills would expand the enabling legislation approved in 2007 that released The Woodlands from potential annexation by Houston and Conroe until 2057 and provide a legal path to incorporation.

Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, who authored both Senate bills, said former Sen. Tommy Williams and former Rep. Rob Eisler worked during several past legislative sessions to enable the residents of The Woodlands to control their own future and self-governance options.

“This legislation is the next chapter in carrying these goals forward should the people of The Woodlands ever choose to direct the local elected township members to move toward an incorporation process,” Creighton said.

There is no timeline, but voters in The Woodlands will have the ultimate say over whether to become a city should the township’s board of directors choose to place incorporation on a future ballot.

There are two types of cities in the state of Texas: general law and home rule. The Texas Constitution only allows communities to incorporate as general law cities, which have populations of 5,000 or less. Therefore, the township legally cannot incorporate today because of its population of more than 110,000 residents.

“House Bill 2110 would amend the local government code to authorize certain special districts that have previously engaged in regional participation agreements to incorporate into municipalities,” said state Rep. Mark Keough, R-The Woodlands, who authored both House bills.

Aside from allowing The Woodlands to legally incorporate as a general law city, the legislation requires a proposed initial property tax rate at incorporation be included in any ballot language. Additionally, the assets, liabilities and obligations of the township would be transferred to the new city approved through an election, according to the legislation.

Township board Chairman Gordy Bunch and other representatives from The Woodlands testified during both hearings in favor of the proposed legislation.

“I believe we have the talent and skills within our community to be self-governed,” Bunch said. “We’re looking at this cleanup legislation to enable us to start the planning process. Today, without these questions answered, we would be facing litigation at the point of incorporation. We want to eliminate that concern.”

The Woodlands, which is home to approximately 115,000 residents, is straddled between two counties, 12 municipal utility districts and is overseen by several law enforcement agencies, Bunch said, making it hard to be efficient at times.

“We want to create one Woodlands,” he said.

The bills are currently pending in committee. They must pass out of committee before moving on to consideration in the full House and Senate.