Join us in Portland!
Join Grassroots Change at the annual Place Matters Conference in Portland, Oregon from October 4 – 6. Our Director, Mark Pertschuk, will deliver a plenary talk entitled “Building a Public Health Movement Begins with the Local Community,” and we will be hosting a breakout session on “Applying Tobacco Lessons to Address Sugary Beverages.”
Public health has taken a comprehensive approach to reducing tobacco use and protecting the public’s health, and the tobacco industry has responded in predictable and well-documented ways. In our plenary presentation, Grassroots Change will cover key elements of local, grassroots success and preemption, the major challenge to local progress. The breakout session will focus on lessons learned from tobacco control to help public health practitioners prepare to address the health impacts of sugary beverages, including the use of preemption to undermine progress by both the tobacco and soda industries.
Blue Cities, Red States
The American Prospect, 8/22/16
“Pretty much anything you can think of that matters to the American family is under assault by local preemption,” says Mark Pertschuk, the director of Grassroots Change, which fights preemption laws around the country…
According to Grassroots Change, in 2015 at least 29 states introduced a maximum preemption measure and, of them, 17 considered more than one. The progressive source PR Watch reports that Florida alone considered 20 such measures. The bills’ concerns range from forbidding local plastic-bag bans to preventing towns from increasing the minimum wage. Last year saw a rise in what progressives call “super-preemption” bills, which both limit local authority and offer the right to sue non-compliant cities or counties to both individuals and corporations.
Why It Matters That Texas Is Fighting Over Plastic Bags
Institute for Policy Studies, 8/10/16
In a Texas appeals court, people are arguing about plastic bags.
A business association in the city of Laredo has filed a suit claiming that a local ban on single-use plastic bags is illegal. They point to a passage in the state’s health and safety code from two decades ago that bars regulations to “prohibit or restrict, for solid waste management purposes, the sale or use of a container or package in a manner not authorized by state law.”
This fight is representative of a larger issue at its core — just exactly how much power do local governments have to enact policy? It’s a fight being waged in states all over the country, from the pre-emption of existing local minimum wage laws to workplace discrimination regulations and LGBT rights — or, in the case of North Carolina, all three.
States win the right to limit municipal broadband, beating FCC in court
Ars Technica, 8/10/16
The Federal Communications Commission has lost in an attempt to preempt state laws that restrict the growth of municipal broadband networks.
The FCC in February 2015 voted to block laws in North Carolina and Tennessee that prevent municipal broadband providers from expanding outside their territories. The FCC, led by Chairman Tom Wheeler, claimed it could preempt the laws because Congress authorizes the commission to promote telecom competition by removing barriers to investment.
Colorado anti-fracking measures fail to make ballot; possible forgery alleged
The Denver Post, 8/29/16
Colorado’s ballot this November won’t include a question about fracking because opponents who want to restrict the practice failed to gather enough valid signatures to put a plan before voters, Secretary of State Wayne Williams announced Monday.
The setback represents a major blow to environmentalists, who tried in 2014 and again this year to use the Colorado ballot to put new limits on hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — a procedure in which water, sand and chemicals are pumped into the ground to extract oil and gas.
An in depth legal analysis of the Colorado court decision finding state preemption of local oil and gas policies.
“Our preemption law on the state level is so comprehensive that, with very few exceptions, little room exists for mayors for any local action at all,” said Dr. Jody Madeira of the I-U Maurer School of Law. “When mayors go to the statehouse and lobby, their hands are tied, unfortunately, just like citizens’ hands.”
“If the state preemption law were to be made less restrictive, or lifted entirely, I think you would have mayors place additional limits on gun dealers in their jurisdictions that say, ‘If we’re going to have a gun show, we’re going to have all transactions take place through background checks, we’re going to have domestic violence laws in this area that apply not only to married couples as they do statewide but also to couples that are dating and dating violence,’ and that’s a loophole that can be closed.”
New city tobacco restrictions unsettle local businesses
The Michigan Daily, 8/10/16
Ann Arbor, MI has passed an ordinance raising the legal age to buy tobacco products to 21 years. However opponents contend that the ordinance is unenforceable due to state preemption. The strongest opposition appears to come from e-cigarette merchants who consider 18 – 20 year-olds a critical target market.
Ongoing coverage of SQ 777, Oklahoma’s “right-to-farm” constitutional amendment initiative, which is on the November ballot. Opponents believe that SQ 777 will preempt local authority to address the negative health and environmental impacts of Factory Farms, also known as CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations):
OFB pushes ‘Right to Farm’ — others leery of SQ 777
McAlester News-Capital, 8/28/16
SQ 777 creates controversy and concern
Muskogee Phoenix, 8/20/16
Texas SWDA Preempts Plastic Bags-Related Ordinance
On August 17, 2016, the Fourth District Court of Appeals sitting in San Antonio held, in a 2 to 1 decision, that a City of Laredo ordinance prohibiting the distribution of “single use” plastic bags at check-out counters in order to reduce litter was preempted by state law, namely, Section 361.0961 of the Texas Solid Waste Disposal Act (SWDA).