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Our nation’s local elected leaders work tirelessly every day to reflect their city’s values and represent community members. These leaders represent the level of government closest to the people they govern, and they focus on the critical issues that matter to the people of this great nation. In this updated 2018 edition of City Rights in an Era of Preemption we are continuing to observe aggressive moves by state legislatures nationwide to usurp local authority. Ultimately, people who live in cities want control over their own destinies. But when states seek blanket policies that run counter to the values of its cities, local leaders do not stand down.
The power of local governments to pass laws that protect the health, safety and welfare of their citizens is waning and under increasing attack. Over the past four years, a historic number of local interference (preemption) bills have been filed and passed in state capitals across the country. Over time, these bills, crafted to strip local governments of their power to act on everything from fracking bans to anti-discrimination measures, have become wider in scope and more hostile to home rule. More industries and special interest groups now consider preemption a legislative imperative, including the oil and gas industry and groups opposing LGBTQ rights.
Many policies that help make healthier foods available to families start locally. But what if your state lawmakers suddenly passed legislation that took away the ability of community members, city councils, school districts, and counties to help prevent heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes? Some states have already passed laws that stop, limit, or discourage local communities from enacting commonsense policy solutions that help create environments where families have increased access to healthy foods; positive changes for communities that are proven to help all kids grow up at a healthy weight and prevent disease.
On August 28, 2017, low-wage workers in St. Louis, Missouri, became the latest victims of state preemption laws. "Preemption" in this context refers to a situation in which a state law is enacted to block a local ordinance from taking effect - or dismantle an existing ordinance. In this case, St. Louis had raised its minimum wage above the state minimum - but was then forced to lower it back down when the Missouri state legislature preempted the local ordinance. Ironically, state preemption of labor standards has historically been used for good: to ensure that minimum labor standards are applied statewide. It is only in recent years that it has been so frequently used to take earnings and protections away from workers. This report looks at the rising use of preemption by state legislatures to undercut local labor standards.
Coordinated messaging from industry lobbyists and state legislators who support preemption is similar or identical across issues and states. This document lays out a number of predictable pro-preemption statements or messages, followed by accurate messages you can use to refute them, or to counter them in advance.
The loss of local control due to state or federal \"preemption\" is a national trend and, as illustrated by these quotes, of great concern to local policymakers and advocates regardless of partisan affiliations. Use these as a resource to develop messaging appropriate for your audience.