University of Wisconsin–Madison

Preempting Progress in the Heartland: State Lawmakers in the Midwest Prevent Shared Prosperity and Racial, Gender, and Immigrant Justice by Interfering in Local Policymaking

Type Policy Brief or Report
Year 2021
Level City or Town, County, State
State(s) All States
Policy Areas Civil Rights, Democracy & Governance, Economic Justice
Across the midwest, conservative state lawmakers have increasingly used preemption—a tactic whereby a higher level of government limits or eliminates the power of a lower-level government to regulate an issue—to reduce the policy tools and power available to local lawmakers. This report outlines the ways preemption has been used in both the past and present to reinforce policies that uphold anti-Black racism and white supremacy. While historically preemption has been tied to segregation, today majority-white legislatures tend to preempt local ordinances that set strong labor standards, such as raising the minimum wage and guaranteeing paid leave, which primarily benefit people of color, women, and low-wage workers. Additionally, this report also analyzes how preemption has limited the ability of communities of color to combat the COVID-19 crisis, further entrenching economic inequality.

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