U.S. Senate Backs Bill to Label Genetically Modified Foods
Valley News, 7/8/16
The vote was 63-30 for the bipartisan measure, which would compel foods that include genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, to carry a text label, a symbol or an electronic code readable by smartphone. Advocates for labeling and the food industry, which has fought mandatory labeling, have wanted to find a national solution to avoid a state-by-state patchwork of laws.
The food industry supports the Senate bill, but many labeling proponents do not. Critics say the labels should be easily readable by consumers without smartphones, and have complained that the measure lacks penalties for companies that don’t comply.
The measure now heads to the House, where its fate is less certain. That chamber has voted to make labeling voluntary.
Cities Clash With State Governments Over Social and Environmental Policies
The Wall Street Journal, 7/7/16
Lawmakers used pre-emption sparingly until the 1980s and 1990s, when the tobacco industry and gun lobby used state pre-emption laws to block local restrictions on smoking and weapons, said Mark Pertschuk, director of Preemption Watch, an Oakland, Calif., watchdog group …. In 1998, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the upswing in pre-emption laws on tobacco in North Carolina and a half-dozen other states posed an obstacle to its public-health goals.
Environmental groups push back against the TPP
Boulder Weekly, 7/7/16
According to critics of the TPP, local laws in Colorado such as bans, moratoriums or even local air and water standards could be overturned by way of the ISDS [Investor-State Dispute Settlements].
Shelburne Holds Out Hope For Future Involvement After Vermont Railway Ruling
Vermont NPR, 7/5/16
In court, Shelburne argued the ICCTA does not preempt the town from regulating a number of impacts, including traffic, noise and environmental concerns regarding wetlands and public waterways.
Mayors Urge State Leaders to Put Fracking in Local Control
Since last year, states including North Carolina, Oklahoma and Texas have outlawed local fracking bans. Leaders say that the bans are an overreach of city power and that they damage an industry important to the state’s bottom line.
Yesterday (June 28), a group of mayors responded in kind. In a statement released on the heels of this year’s Conference of Mayors, 33 mayors from 14 states demanded more control over fracking within their jurisdictions…
Research in Pennsylvania, North Dakota and California shows that fracking disproportionately affects low-income communities and communities of color. In California, for example, almost 80 percent of children living near active wells are Latinx and non-White. Southern Texas doesn’t have it any better. People in high-poverty communities were closer to a well than the low-poverty ones.
At the three-day U.S. Conference of Mayors, which took place in Indianapolis and ended June 27, mayors also proposed other climate and energy-driven resolutions, such as those to increase wind energy production and improve local water infrastructure (something that would have helped the City of Flint avoid its toxic water crisis).
Read the mayors’ complete fracking statement here.
Alabama Fast-Food Workers Expand Civil Rights Wage Suit
The Wall Street Journal, 6/30/16
Fast-food workers and civil-rights groups in Birmingham, Ala., are expanding their constitutional challenge to a recent state law that prohibits cities from setting their own higher minimum wages by adding more participants and a voting-rights claim to bolster their original lawsuit.
The plaintiffs first filed their federal suit in April against state Attorney General Luther Strange and Republican Gov. Robert Bentley, alleging the bill the governor signed into law in February illegally blocked a minimum-wage increase Birmingham’s City Council approved.
The suit alleged the state law was tainted with “racial animus” and violated the civil rights of workers in the city, which is about 74% African-American, including one third with earnings below the federal poverty level. It claimed the law was “improperly motivated” by a largely white, GOP-controlled legislature and infringed on the rights of a minority community to self-govern local issues affecting its members.
Davis joins regional agencies in opposing Valero oil train petition
The Davis Enterprise, 7/10/16
In the latest addition to the turbulent saga of Valero Refining Company’s proposal to expand a crude oil-by-rail train route through the Sacramento-Davis region to a refinery in Benicia, the City of Davis, Yolo County, and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments have submitted formal letters opposing the Valero’s latest moves to approve the project.
The local agencies are joined by a formidable coalition opposing Valero’s project, including State Attorney General Kamala Harris, the cities of Oakland and Berkeley, and a number of air quality management districts.
Paid leave rules and a higher minimum wage are popular in the Twin Cities. Are they legal?
A look at the moves by cities nationwide to implement higher minimum wages and paid sick leave mandates higher than their states, and states countermoves to preempt these laws, with Minneapolis’ efforts in the spotlight to offer a local analysis.
Little common ground on gun laws for two area senators
Lincoln Journal Star, 7/3/16
Coverage of the disparate views on gun control laws, local control state preemption, of two Nebraska state Senators.
Pennsylvania: Critical Firearms Preemption Legislation Passes Committee
[From a pro-gun blog which supports state “super-preemption” in Pennsylvania and other states]
Senate Bill 1330, legislation that would strengthen Pennsylvania’s firearms preemption law to further ensure firearm and ammunition laws are consistent throughout the state, passed the Senate Local Government Committee with an 8-3 vote.
SB 1330 will now go to the Senate floor for consideration by the full chamber.