“In recent years, Republican-led states from Arizona to Florida have declared war on local democracy. Backed by deep-pocketed business interests, they’ve launched a coordinated campaign to push state laws that preempt those passed by cities and counties, undermining efforts to protect the environment and public health, help workers, and combat inequality…
“’I think it is the time of greatest risk to local democracy that has probably ever existed,’ Mark Pertschuk of Grassroots Change, which supports local democracy efforts around the country, told me in reference to the push for preemption. ‘I see it as a fundamental threat.'”
In 2014, voters in Denton, Texas banned fracking in their community. The ballot measure was a hard-fought victory for environmental justice and local democracy. Defeated by a grassroots movement, the oil & gas industry responded by undermining the will of the people with statewide preemption.Today, activists in Denton and across the state continue to fight for local control through civil disobedience and advocacy. Denton’s fracking ban has also inspired communities in Colorado and elsewhere to consider similar bans.See our interactive timeline and case study on Denton’s grassroots movement and the ongoing battle against preemption.
First-Ever Federal Labeling Requirements for Bioengineered Foods Signed Into Law
The National Law Review, 8/4/16
On July 29, President Obama signed into law a bill establishing first-ever federal requirements for the labeling of food containing genetically engineered ingredients. The bill, known as S.764, directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to issue rules to establish mandatory labeling requirements for so-called “bioengineered foods”…
Notably, the new law includes a preemption provision that precludes states from enacting their own labeling requirements for bioengineered foods. As a consequence, Vermont’s 2014 labeling law, which went into effect on July 1 of this year and would have required labeling of food sold in Vermont that was produced either entirely or partially with genetic engineering, is now preempted by federal law. [emphasis added]
Recently signed into law, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act…, significantly reforms the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”) and includes important provisions regarding federal preemption of state laws regulating chemicals. Federal preemption issues related to TSCA reform had been discussed for years, and Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) described the preemption provisions in the Lautenberg Act as “the most contentious issue of the negotiations as well as the most important linchpin in the final deal” this year.
Cities turn to local action to block oil trains
The Washington Times, 7/27/16
Cities across the nation are finding their efforts to block crude oil shipments by railroad restricted by federal preemption, which prevents local governments from regulating railroad operations and property.
THREE STATES IN A ROW FOR RIGHT TO FARM?
Successful Farming, 7/26/16
This article touches on three recent or pending “right to farm” laws. These laws have been broad enough to preempt virtually all local authority over factory farms, also known as concentrated animal feeding operations, including local zoning authority. The following quote relates to an upcoming ballot measure in Oklahoma:
Opponents, such as former state attorney general Drew Edmondson, say the amendment is so broadly written that it would legalize puppy mills and create a barrier to antipollution laws. “This constitutional amendment is a threat to public water-supply systems both from a quality and quantity perspective,” says Choctaw Mayor Randy Moss, speaking for the Oklahoma Municipal League.
Arizona sued over ban on cities mandating paid sick leave
The Arizona Republic, 7/28/16
A new state law governing paid employee sick leave has prompted a lawsuit by more than 30 state legislators and members of several city councils across Arizona…
Arizona voters passed a law in 2006 that raised the state minimum wage and gave cities the authority to regulate their own wages and benefits.
The Legislature can’t change a law passed by voters without meeting certain requirements, the plaintiffs said. And the Legislature didn’t meet those requirements, so the new law is unconstitutional, the lawsuit states.
Colorado Activists Submit Petitions for Referendums on Fracking
The New York Times, 8/8/16
In an effort to halt the advance of the oil industry in Colorado, environmental activists said they submitted enough signatures on Monday to place on November’s ballot two initiatives aimed at severely limiting hydraulic fracturing…
One of the Colorado ballot initiatives would establish local control over oil and gas operations, including fracking, while the other would prohibit drilling and fracking in a buffer zone 2,500 feet around occupied buildings, waterways and open public spaces like parks. [emphasis added]
Judge dismisses city’s case against oil and gas drilling
C and G News, 7/27/16
Local oil and gas ordinances in Michigan are being challenged and overturned in court under state preemption.
A proposal to increase the minimum legal age to purchase tobacco products in Ann Arbor from 18 to 21 awaits final approval from the City Council.
The council voted 10-1 Monday night, July 18, to advance the proposed ordinance to a public hearing and possible final approval on Aug. 4.
But does it conflict with state law?
Council Member Jack Eaton, an attorney, argued so as he cast the lone dissenting vote against the proposed ordinance.
Eaton, D-4th Ward, cited Michigan’s Tobacco Products Tax Act of 1993, which states that local governments “shall not impose any new requirement or prohibition pertaining to the sale or licensure of tobacco products for distribution purposes.”
Nebraska Ag Leaders Working Group Meets with Governor
Nebraska agriculture groups meet with the Governor to discuss options to support farming, and express their opposition to a proposed, preemptive state “right to farm” measure.
Oklahoma’s proposed “right to farm” initiative, which would likely limit local as well as state authority over Factory Farms and farming-related issues such as water and air pollution, will remain on the November ballot.
The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled Monday that voters can consider the so-called “Right to Farm” ballot initiative during the general election this fall…
A coalition known as Save the Illinois River, Inc., filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the proposal in March, more than eight months after Gov. Mary Fallin issued an order placing the matter on the Nov. 8 ballot. In a unanimous ruling, the nine-member court let stand a decision by Oklahoma County District Judge Patricia Parrish in May to dismiss the lawsuit.
Oklahoma farmers weigh in about Right to Farm ballot measure
Red Dirt Report, 8/1/16
Battle over ‘Right to Farm’ heats up
Tulsa World, 7/31/16
Two articles covering opposing sides and family farmers’ views of SQ777, Oklahoma’s Right-to-Farm constitutional ballot measure up for vote in November.