On Thursday, March 17, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court heard oral arguments on whether the FCC can lawfully preempt parts of laws in North Carolina and Tennessee that govern how, and where, municipal broadband networks may operate…Both states submitted objections to two items concerning the issue.The first is the FCC’s 2010 reinterpretation of Section 706 as an independent grant of authority to regulate any form of communications in any way that the FCC claims promotes broadbandSecond is the specific use of that supposed power to preempt state law, as an infringement of a state’s sovereignty over its municipalities.
The court challenges began when FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler commented the FCC had the power to preempt state laws blocking the expansion of municipal broadband.
The city of Wilson, N.C., then joined with Chattanooga in petitioning the FCC to allow for expansion to its service footprint.
The FCC majority in that decision said the agency had the “power and the duty to step in when states were limiting broadband buildouts.”
Note: Because Grassroots Change views access to online health information and health data as essential aspects of contemporary health care (regardless of a person’s income or wealth) we view municipal broadband as both public health and technology issues.
NC eyes Virginia transgender case
Citizen Times, 3/26/16
A federal court case brought by a transgender student, who is fighting to use boys’ restrooms in his Virginia school, could have implications for a controversial new state law in North Carolina, one that has come under scrutiny as a potential threat to federal education funding…
One outcome, he said, is that federal law or a federal court interpretation of Title IX could pre-empt — or invalidate — state law, which mean education funding would remain intact.
Analysis: Senate blocks bill to make GMO labeling voluntary
Barring Plastic Bag Bans, another ALEC Law Takes Aim at Local Democracy
PR Watch, 3/16/16
Preventing local governments from banning, charging a fee for, or otherwise regulating plastic bags is part of a national strategy by corporate interests and groups they fund, like ALEC to override progressive policy gains at the city and county level…
One such measure passed in Arizona, which is now being sued by Tempe City Councilmember Lauren Kuby.
California looks to set a $15 an hour minimum wage, raising the floor while others add ceilings
Washington Post, 3/28/16
On Monday, California lawmakers are preparing to announce a deal according to the state’s newspapers to raise the minimum wage statewide to $15 an hour by 2022, becoming the first state to meet a target that over the past few years has gone from a pie-in-the-sky activist demand to the new baseline for big cities…
Instead of raising the floor for wages and working conditions, a growing number of states have been creating ceilings — preventing increasingly active cities and towns from going above the state level maximum. That’s happened a number of times with the minimum wage, most notably Alabama, which in February passed a measure to block Birmingham’s attempt at raising its minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, over the state minimum of $7.25.
The tactic is similar to one being used in several states to “pre-empt” their localities from enacting stricter gun laws, and it’s being employed for other kinds of measures, too.
Proposed bill: local control over oil and gas activity
Boulder Weekly, 3/24/16
Comments from lawmakers, advocates and industry personnel were heard this week by a state assembly panel on a bill that would give local control on oil and gas operations to municipalities and counties in Colorado.
House Bill 16-1355 was introduced on March 11, and it now sits on the desk of the Democrat-majority State, Veterans and Military Affairs committee. The bill was introduced by four house Democrats, including east Boulder County representatives Mike Foote and Matt Jones.
The bill would repeal certain rights afforded to oil and gas interests in the state, while also providing new abilities to concerned municipalities.
Otter Signs Container Preemption Bill
Magic Valley, 3/25/16
Idaho lawmakers forbid local regulations on plastic bags, other containers
Daily News, 3/17/16
This Is What Kentucky’s Anti-LGBT Pro-Discrimination Plan Looks Like
Think Progress, 3/16/16
Kentucky is the latest state advancing legislation specifically designed to enable discrimination against the LGBT community. On Tuesday, the state Senate voted 22-16 to advance S.B. 180, which creates “protected rights” and “protected activities” — in short, nobody has to serve anybody else if it violates their conscience to do so…
The bill is, in a sense, a mash-up of similarly proposed anti-LGBT legislation in Congress and other states… And like the preemption laws, it would supersede LGBT nondiscrimination protections that are already in place in Covington, Danville, Frankfort, Lexington, Louisville, Midway, Morehead, and Vicco.
Note: Because of the documented negative health impacts of discriminatory policies, Grassroots Change views state laws that preempt local LGBTQ civil rights protections as both public health and civil rights issues.
Local Grocery Bag Bans Coming? Not If These Legislators Prevail
Michigan Capitol Confidential, 3/16/16
“Right to Farm” dies quiet death in the legislative session
Nebraska Radio Network, 3/25/16
Sen. John Kuehn of Heartwell decided to give up on his effort to add a “Right to Farm” to the state constitution after failing to secure enough votes to move forward.
Kuehn tells colleagues he wants to stop activist groups which target agriculture…
The measure caused a split in the rural community. Nebraska Farmers Union opposed it. The Nebraska Farm Bureau was officially neutral. Some rural legislators didn’t like the wording of LR 378 CA and argued it needed to be rewritten.
North Carolina Sued in Challenge to Anti-LGBT Law
Lambda Legal, 3/28/16
North Carolina Overturns LGBT-Discrimination Bans
The Atlantic, 3/24/16
Local governments consider implications of state’s HB2 law
The News & Observer, 3/25/16
HB2…prohibits public agencies, including towns and schools, from allowing people to use restrooms and changing rooms other than those that correspond with the sex they were assigned at birth.
It also bans local and county governments from imposing upon employers non-discrimination requirements that include sexual orientation, gender identity or other criteria not listed in the bill. Local governments are now trying to determine whether that ban applies to their own hiring practices.
No local governments in the state currently include sexual orientation or gender identity as criteria in their regulation of private employment. But several, including Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh, include sexual orientation and gender identity in policies dealing with the hiring of municipal employees. Orange County’s hiring policy includes sexual orientation but not gender identity…
The Orange County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution Tuesday, ahead of the legislature’s decision…Carrboro’s Board of Aldermen also planned to pass a resolution opposing HB 2 in a special session Saturday.
State question opponents challenge intent of ‘Right to Farm’
Tulsa World, 3/29/16
State wants legal challenge dismissed against Right to Farm proposal
Tulsa World, 3/26/16
The state is asking an Oklahoma County judge to dismiss a lawsuit challenging a controversial state question regarding farming…
The suit alleges State Question 777 “unconstitutionally delegates policy-making decisions, is too vague to be enforced, impermissibly prevents future legislators from performing their duties, and attempts to regulate too many subjects.”..
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is representing the state.
In a brief filed Monday, Pruitt asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit.
The court lacks jurisdiction, his petition says. In addition, the plaintiffs have failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, it says.
State law does not allow for pre-enactment challenges to legislative referendums. The measure was put on the ballot by lawmakers.
Even if the challenge was to an initiative petition instead of a legislative referendum, a pre-enactment challenge must be filed within 10 business days of publication of the ballot title, the state’s brief says.
Washington’s marijuana laws should be uniform
Editorial advocating state preemption of local marijuana laws. Within the public community there is deep concern that a rapidly growing corporate marijuana industry will behave much like the tobacco industry, including preempting local authority to protect nonsmokers and children, as well as the power to tax marijuana sales at the local level.