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The Shackling of the American City

September 9, 2016

Slate, September 9, 2016

by Henry Grabar

“Pre-emption has become the most powerful statehouse tactic of our time.

In May 2011, Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker approved Senate Bill 23, which prohibited the state’s municipalities from enacting paid sick leave laws. From the outside, it might’ve appeared as if he was swinging a sledgehammer at a very tiny nail. While the bill applied to every city, town, village, and county in Wisconsin, only one jurisdiction in the state had a paid sick leave law on the books: Milwaukee…

2014 was the worst year in history in terms of pre-emption across issues. 2015 was much worse,” said Mark Pertschuk, the director of the Oakland, California–based nonprofit Grassroots Change and the founder of Preemption Watch, a group that agitates against the usurping of local control. “What’s made these past three years so radically different is the strategy of pre-empting everything that cities and counties could do.”

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