State Lawmakers Ask Congress to Oppose H.R. 1599, a Bill to Preempt State GMO Labeling Laws
eNews Park Forest, 10/8/15
A bipartisan group of 95 state lawmakers (representing 21 states) who have either sponsored state GMO labeling bills, or supported state GMO labeling ballot initiatives or bans on GMO crops, have signed on to a joint letter asking Congress to oppose H.R. 1599, or any other federal law that would preempt states’ rights to enact GMO labeling laws.
In their letter, the lawmakers argue that states have a constitutional right to pass GMO labeling laws, as affirmed by a District Court in April with regard to Vermont’s labeling law. They also reject claims by supporters of H.R. 1599 that state GMO labeling laws would create a “messy patchwork” of laws that would be burdensome for food manufacturers.
Nocera: Perfect vs. ‘really good’: the case for compromise
Houston Chronicle, 10/7/15
Note: Originally published in the New York Times, this opinion piece defends federal preemption of stronger state and local regulations of toxic chemicals.
The bill doesn’t give environmentalists everything they want… The biggest issue is “pre-emption” – meaning that states will not be able to write laws about certain chemicals if the EPA starts a formal review of that chemical. Because some states, like California, are much tougher on chemicals than the federal government, many environmentalists don’t want any federal pre-emption. But the chemical industry, tired of dealing with different state standards, insisted on it.
Open carry and more: Lawmakers push gun bills
Orlando Sentinel, 10/9/15
Gun-rights measures are flourishing in the state Capitol this fall.
Under bills moving through the Legislature, Floridians could carry handguns openly in public and on college campuses, and prosecutors would have the burden of proof in “stand your ground” cases.
Lawsuit raises stink over Indiana’s Right to Farm laws
Indy Star, 10/7/15
After a hog farm moved next door, a Hendricks County farm owner filed a civil lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of state laws that it says unfairly protect giant corporations and livestock operations.
While releasing the card, the group noted that it has successfully fought back what it calls anti-conservation legislation for 11 years in a row—but the new House Republican majority made it a more difficult fight.
Sen. Bill Soules, D-Las Cruces, spoke about preemption legislation…“Preemption means that decisions are being made in Santa Fe, at bigger government levels than at local levels,” Soules said.
He said that while some preemption could be good…those being pushed in this year’s legislative session would have only aided the oil and gas industry.
“Preemption is being pushed for the benefit of oil and gas and polluting industries at the expense of local citizens,” Soules said.
Environmental advocates in North Carolina are stepping up pressure on Gov. Pat McCrory (R) to veto a bill they say is the most anti-environmental of the 2015 legislative session — and possibly of McCrory’s tenure.
Dubbed the “Polluter Protection Act” by opponents, House Bill 765 started out as a one-page technical corrections bill tweaking regulations on highway transport of sand, gravel and rock. But after passing the House, the Regulatory Reform Act of 2015 was transformed in the Senate into a sweeping 61-page wish list for polluting industry — with some of the provisions being added in closed-door conference sessions. Lawmakers passed it in the chaotic last days of the session.
Speaker at anti-fracking event holds out hopes for Supreme Court to embrace local regulation
The Athens News, 10/18/15
Despite an Ohio Supreme Court ruling that kept a local anti-fracking group from putting a countywide community bill of rights/charter proposal to voters this November, the state high court has not yet decided on the constitutionality of those proposals, the keynote speaker for an anti-fracking event argued Saturday in Glouster…
The event was sponsored by the local group Democracy Over Corporations and the Athens County League of Women Voters. Many in attendance belong to the Athens County Bill of Rights Committee that had been working to get an anti-fracking charter proposal to voters this November.
McAlester legislator endorses ‘Right to Farm’ measure
Grand Lake News, 10/20/15
Oklahoma State Rep. Brian Renegar (D) wrote this opinion piece supporting an upcoming 2016 statewide “right to farm” initiative (SQ 777). What is not discussed is how so-called right to farm legislation often protects factory farms (also known as concentrated animal feeding operations), which can pose risks to human health and the environment, while preempting local authority to set health standards or exercise their traditional zoning authority.
Oregon Colleges Ban Guns. Students Tote Them Anyway. Here’s Why.
The Trace, 10/8/15
Umpqua Community College student John Parker Jr. didn’t think much about bringing his gun to campus last Thursday. An Air Force veteran and Oregon concealed weapon license holder, he had his handgun with him when the school went into lockdown during a mass shooting that left 10 people dead and eight more injured. The next day, Parker toldMSNBC that he thought about trying to intervene, but ultimately decided not to, fearing he might interfere with a police response…
With his comments, Parker had unwittingly wandered into Oregon’s ongoing fight over the legality of guns on campus, which has largely played out in the courts. Schools there maintain they have the right to determine rules about guns on their grounds since they areobligated to protect the safety of their students and employees. But gun activists point to Oregon’s preemption law, which bars any administrative body below the state legislature from regulating firearms.
Pa. judge throws out ban, sidesteps ‘rights of nature’
Energy Wire, 10/16/15
A federal judge in Pennsylvania this week struck down a local government’s efforts to block oil and gas wastewater disposal within its borders.
The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania on Wednesday invalidated several provisions of Grant Township’s “community bill of rights” — a 2013 ordinance passed by township supervisors seeking to ban injection wells.
Thomas Linzey, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) attorney who helped draft the bill of rights, told EnergyWire in an email that the court effectively sidestepped the broader constitutional question of corporate rights by focusing instead on pre-emption by state law.
Majority of Texans support local control of fracking, UT poll shows
A majority of Texans believe cities should be able to ban hydraulic fracturing even if state law otherwise permits it, according to a recent poll conducted by the University of Texas at Austin.
In Texas, 57 percent of those surveyed agree that cities should be able to block hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” and nationally 58 percent support giving cities that authority, according to the UT Energy Poll released Tuesday.
Continued support for local control comes after Gov. Greg Abbott signed House Bill 40 earlier this year reasserting the state’s control over oil and gas drilling and limiting a city’s regulatory powers. Lawmakers passed the bill after Denton became the first city in Texas to ban hydraulic fracturing.