Alabama lawmakers consider bill to block city minimum wages
Local-control rules for oil and gas drilling in Colorado coming soon
The Colorado Statesman, 9/19/15
Following a lengthy outreach process, draft local-control rules for oil and gas drilling near homes and public buildings in Colorado’s towns and counties are “imminent,” according to Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Director Matt Lepore.
The COGCC rulemaking stems from two recommendations made by Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Oil and Gas Task Force aimed at giving local governments more say in where and how oil and gas drilling occurs in their communities…
The process began when Hickenlooper struck an 11th-hour deal last year with U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a Boulder Democrat who was financing two controversial ballot questions to shift oil and gas drilling regulatory control away from the state and the COGCC and give more power to local governments.
County GMO law playing out in federal court and a national conference in Kona
West Hawaii Today, 9/15/15
Hawaii County’s lawsuit centers around its 2013 ordinance that bans growing GMO crops in open-air conditions, with some exceptions. Papaya and corn already growing on the island, as well as scientific study in greenhouses and other enclosed settings, were exempted by the county ordinance. The law is on hold after U.S. Magistrate Judge Barry Kurren invalidated the county’s partial GMO ban in a Nov. 27 order, saying state law pre-empts county law on the issue.
Hawaii County has appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and enlisted the help of attorneys from national groups Earthjustice and the Center for Food Safety.
Missouri legislature cuts unemployment benefits, bans local minimum wage
Columbia Missourian, 9/16/15
It’s the law: Local governments can’t set their own minimum wages and jobless benefits depend on the state’s unemployment rate.
The General Assembly voted Wednesday to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill that bars local governments from setting their own minimum wages or banning plastic bags.
State Supreme Court imposes strict limitations on secretary of state’s authority to block anti-fracking ballot measures, granting oil and gas interests a limited victory
In sum, based upon the decision, the Ohio secretary of state lacks authority to thwart a proposed ballot measure based on a constitutional or legal objection to the measure’s substance. In fact, an unconstitutional or otherwise illegal petition may still constitute a proper ballot measure; a ballot measure may be deemed substantively unconstitutional or illegal only by a court. Therefore, in the future, county petitions to prohibit oil and gas extraction and exploration will likely make the ballot and be subject to popular vote; recourse may be sought only in a court of law.
Ohio Supreme Court rules in favor of Secretary of State Husted in mandamus action involving oil and gas ballot initiative
Because of the technical nature of the Court’s decision, however, the debate is not over regarding the validity (and constitutionality) of county charter petitions targeting oil and gas development in Ohio. Still, this decision provides both Secretary of State Husted and the oil and gas industry with a significant victory by keeping these three county charter petitions off the ballot in November 2015.
Tennessee explains why it should be able to limit city-run ISPs
Ars Technica, 9/21/15
Tennessee has continued its fight against a city that wants to expand municipal broadband service, arguing in a legal brief that the Federal Communications Commission can’t preempt state laws that limit the rights of cities and towns to offer Internet access.
In a brief filed Friday in a federal appeals court, Tennessee argued that states have an “inviolable right to self-governance,” which means that a state may delegate powers to its political subdivisions—i.e. cities and towns—as it sees fit. The brief was in support of the lawsuit Tennessee filed against the FCC in March, shortly after the commission voted to preempt the broadband-limiting state law.
Petroleum Industry Agrees to Dismiss Denton Lawsuit
The Texas Tribune, 9/11/15
In April, when the Legislature passed House Bill 40 — effectively rendering Denton’s ban unenforceable — TXOGA decided to continue with the lawsuit anyway. The Texas General Land Office, which manages the state’s mineral interests and had filed a similar lawsuit against Denton, pressed on as well. The city has paid more than $300,000 in gas well litigation expenses so far this fiscal year, according to the Denton city manager’s office.
Seattle City Council approves asking state for local control to cap sudden rent increases
Seattle City Council asks the Washington State legislature for more local control to regulate housing prices due to recent dramatic rent hikes. Washington State has preempted local rent control since 1981.
Controls on rent for residential structures — Prohibited — Exceptions.
The imposition of controls on rent is of statewide significance and is preempted by the state…