Boxer: Toxic Substances Deal Gives More Room to States
Morning Consult, 5/9/16
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) have reached a deal on overhauling the Toxic Substances Control Act, giving more leeway to state agencies that regulate chemicals, Boxer told reporters Monday…
Boxer said she was “thrilled” with the deal, and that California state regulators “are very happy with it.” But she warned that other differences between the Senate and House bills on TSCA still have to be ironed out. The House passed its bill in June 2015 by a 398-1 vote, and the Senate passed its bill in December by a voice vote.
“We just did a huge change on ‘pre-emption,’ and that’s what we agreed with,” Boxer told reporters. “I haven’t looked at the rest of the bill because that has to be negotiated with the House.”
US Justice Department: HB2 violates federal Civil Rights Act
Charlotte Observer, 5/4/16
North Carolina’s HB2 preempts local governments from enforcing Transgender-friendly bathroom policies, a preemption provision which was added, late in the legislative process, to a bill that preempts local wage, employee benefits, leave and employee scheduling laws. Following weeks of backlash from businesses and civil rights advocates, the US Department of Justice contends that the law violates the federal Civil Rights Act. Current efforts to repeal the law are underway in the North Carolina legislature: HB 946.
Justice Department Response to North Carolina Lawsuit (VIDEO)
‘Preemption’ laws either irony or hypocrisy
Canton [Illinois] Daily Ledger, 4/28/16
Prohibiting what laws cities can pass and enforce, it’s a phenomenon called “preemption,” and given the South’s long-time claim to advocate for so-called states’ rights above federal laws, it’s either irony or hypocrisy…
“Agriculture, guns and knives, minimum wage increases and employee benefits … and a wide range of environmental protections were the most common targets of preemption,” said Mark Pertschuk of the Preemption Watch advocacy group. “But perhaps the newest trend was exemplified by bills that sought blanket preemption of ALL local authority over ANY topic already addressed at the state level, limiting local control and democratic processes across public health, safety and social justice.”
Suit claims racial discrimination by Alabama on minimum wage
The lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Birmingham, in which Alabama’s NAACP chapter is also a plaintiff, alleges racial discrimination in two ways. First, it claims, the state’s authority to override local control on wage and other issues derives from Alabama’s 1901 Constitution, which explicitly aimed to disenfranchise blacks and impose segregation. (“What is it that we want to do?” asked the president of the Constitutional Convention, John Knox, at the outset of the proceedings. “Why it is, within the limits imposed by the federal Constitution, to establish white supremacy in this state.”) “Such provisions that grant exclusive authority to the State legislature to override any and all local ordinances are vestiges of race discrimination,” the suit argues, “and HB 174 disproportionately impacts African American residents who live and work in the City of Birmingham.”
Legislature keeps its thumb on Arizona cities
The Arizona Republic, 5/9/16
House passes bill pre-empting some city gun laws
The Washington Times, 5/6/16
Firearm “super-preemption” adopted in Arizona:
The House has passed a measure that would punish cities, towns, and counties that pass firearms legislation stricter than state law… the proposal would allow the court to enforce penalties of up to $100,000 for knowingly, or willingly, violating the state’s pre-emption laws.
On Monday, May 2, 2016, the Colorado Supreme Court “blocked a push by Front Range cities to limit oil and gas development near people, ruling state power to promote industry trumps local bans, which the court deemed ‘invalid and unenforceable.'”
After the court decision, the president and CEO of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA) responded to the ruling in an opinion piece, attempting to assure local communities “that the court did not silence your local government’s voice in this ruling, nor did it alter your local government’s strong role in oil and gas development.”
Nonetheless, grassroots advocates hoping to address fracking in their own communities are continuing to organize state ballot initiatives to ensure local control over fracking and other oil & gas operations.
Palm Beach can’t ban smoking on local beaches
Palm Beach Daily News, 5/8/16
Officers were prepared to consider the prohibition after some residents complained about cigarette butts littering the shore and of the health hazards of second-hand smoke, Town Manager Tom Bradford said.
But the idea was stubbed out after town officials learned that the state doesn’t allow municipalities to regulate smoking in public areas. Lawmakers reserve that authority for Tallahassee.
Bradford placed “consideration of an ordinance banning smoking on town beaches” on the agenda for the Town Council meeting Tuesday but later was forced to notify council members that such an ordinance would not be possible.
Kansas House OKs bill prohibiting local ‘inclusionary zoning’ laws, nutrition labeling
Lawrence Journal-World, 4/30/16
SB 366 is a conference committee bill that preempts local control over several housing policy issues including inclusionary zoning laws “aimed at promoting mixed-income neighborhoods by regulating the sale or resale price of a certain number of homes within a specified area.”
Another provision is a misnamed “Anti-Bloomberg” law that would prohibit “local governments from regulating the labeling or nutritional content of food sold in retail stores or vending machines…” There are concerns that the very broad language of the bill will preempt a wide range of local food, nutrition and farming policies, including zoning and healthy food incentives.
Judge allows Tennessee Gas access in Sandisfield, but stays order until July 29
The Berkshire Eagle, 5/9/16
A Berkshire Superior Court judge has upheld Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co.’s authority to access a 2.3-mile section of Otis State Forest in Sandisfield as part of a gas pipeline upgrade project but has stayed that order until July 29…
The company’s motion was opposed during a hearing in April by the state Attorney General’s Office, which argued that Article 97 of the Massachusetts Constitution prohibits such use of protected conservation land without a two-thirds vote of the state Legislature…
A statement released by Chloe Gotsis, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office, said, “We are disappointed in Judge Agostini’s decision to grant Kinder Morgan’s request for a preliminary injunction. We are pleased, however, that the judge stayed his order until July 29, recognizing the critical role of our state Legislature in determining the status of conservation land and allowing it the time to act. We are reviewing today’s decision and considering our options moving forward…”
In his decision, Agostini, while upholding the company’s right to access the site for the project, added, “Despite the pre-emption of Article 97, the [FERC] certificate does not give Tennessee an unrestrained right to ignore the commonwealth. Instead, the certificate expressly requires Tennessee to make a good faith, reasonable effort to ‘cooperate with state and local agencies regarding the location of pipeline facilities, environmental mitigation measures, and construction procedures.”
Michigan: Important Firearm Preemption Legislation Will Likely Receive Committee Vote Next Week
NRA Institute for Legislative Action, 4/29/16
More state “super-preemption” in guns and ammunition policy:
The NRA-ILA [the NRA’s 510(c)(4) lobbying arm] reports that HB 4795, a firearms super-preemption bill, was heard by the Michigan House Local Government Committee on May 4, 2016, and has been referred for second reading.
Arrested for openly carrying an assault-style rifle, St. Cloud man sues
Twin Cities Pioneer Press, 5/6/16
A man arrested in St. Cloud for openly carrying an assault rifle is suing the city, claiming his constitutional rights were violated.
Tyler Gottwalt, who has a permit to carry a gun, argues the city’s gun law is more restrictive than the state statute on carrying firearms in public. The local law allows a person to carry a handgun in public with a permit, but prohibits firearms that aren’t carried in a case or “broken apart”…
The state statute on gun permits allows a valid permit holder to carry a BB gun, rifle or shotgun in public. It prohibits government authorities from changing, modifying or supplementing those state procedures or “limiting the exercise of a permit to carry.”
Gottwalt’s attorney said he doesn’t advocate “that people should walk around with a loaded AK-47 or M16,” but state statute is clear and it trumps a city ordinance.
State Green Lights Uber, Overrides Local Control, Regulations
Jackson Free Press, 4/27/16
Uber has the green light to operate statewide, after a bill implementing statewide regulations soared through the Legislature this session largely uncontested. The new transportation network company bill will override all municipality ordinances used to regulate Uber or other digital ridesharing services on July 1, when it becomes law.
The City of Jackson passed an ordinance earlier this year that regulated ridesharing services while ensuring the city’s ability to monitor such companies, requiring additional screening and background checks.
Jackson Ward 1 Councilman Melvin Priester Jr. pushed for the ordinance early in 2016, and the City came to an agreement with Uber back then. House Bill 1381 will override that ordinance, stating counties or municipalities are not allowed to impose taxes on or require licenses for transportation network companies.
Orange County Health Officials Punt on E-cigarette Decision
North Carolina Health News, 5/3/16
Vt. Senate and House close on energy siting bill
The Vermont legislature works with community groups, and protects local control in state renewable energy laws:
The bill is a response to outcry from community members who felt cut-out by the state’s process for green-lighting large-scale projects…
It would call on communities to craft local energy plans both to help grow renewables while also limiting where those projects can be built.
Rep. Tony Klein says if the Senate sticks with its latest proposal and avoids changes to sections dealing with town energy planning, and the writing of new sound standards then the two sides likely have a deal.