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Beyond North Carolina’s LGBT Battle: States’ War on Cities

April 4, 2016

Governing

March 25, 2016

By Alan Greenblatt

St. Louis can’t get a break from its own state. Last year, Missouri enacted a law preventing St. Louis and other cities from setting their own minimum-wage rates and from banning plastic grocery bags. This year, state lawmakers have spent a considerable amount of time debating whether to prohibit the city from taxing the income of its residents and workers. The state, which took control of the St. Louis police force during the Civil War, didn’t give it back until 2013, when it was forced to by a voter-approved ballot measure.

If St. Louis feels ill-treated by state officials, it’s got lots of company around the country. North Carolina’s legislature drew national headlines when it met in special session March 23 to block cities from passing anti-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The legislature acted in response to Charlotte’s adoption of LGBT protections earlier in the year. What was sometimes lost in the media coverage was the fact that the new North Carolina law also blocks cities from setting their own minimum wage rates. Similarly, Birmingham, Ala., passed a minimum-wage increase last year, only to see the state block it and other cities from setting their own rates this year.

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