preemption_watch

Welcome to the Preemption Watch News. We hope you find these news links and summaries useful. Please let us know if you have any news about proposed or pending preemption that you would like us to include in future updates. You can contact us at michael@grassrootschange.net or (510) 452-9419. More information can be found at Preemption Watch. Thank you for your support!
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National

Voices for Healthy Kids Preemption Messaging Toolkit

Grassroots Change has joined with Voices for Healthy Kids and the American Heart Association to develop a new toolkit to help advocates communicate with diverse audiences about the impact of preemption on public health.  While the toolkit is geared toward advocates for healthy food policies, the tools are equally useful for those working on other issues. View the toolkit here.

In pitting locals vs. the Legislature, Minnesota’s preemption battle follows a national pattern
Minnesota Post, 3/9/2017

Michael Bare, a program manager for Preemption Watch, which monitors state efforts to block local ordinances, said there has been a steady pace of state laws to block paid leave and local minimum wage ordinances. According to Preemption Watch, 16 states already preempt local ordinances on paid leave and some of those also include local minimum wage ordinances. Three more, including Minnesota, have pay and benefits preemption in play this year.

Bare said he sees a national pattern for preemption ordinances. The topics often appear in just a few states and then, depending on their success, move on to other places. The conservative American Legislative Exchange Council offers model bills that have been the starting point in many states…

Update: Discrimination & Sanctuary Cities

Two months into the 2017 state legislative sessions, local LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinances and sanctuary cities have emerged as two of the leading targets of state preemption. As in the past, preemption proposals have been introduced in both states with existing local ordinances or policies, and those with no local LGBTQ protections or communities with sanctuary status.

Read our blog post here.

WPI Wage Watch: Minimum Wage & Overtime Updates
Mondaq, 3/1/2017

A detailed update on recent minimum wage laws, including state level preemption of local higher minimum wage policies.

Arizona

The big question for courts: What’s the extent of cities’ right to make their own laws?Arizona Capitol Times, 2/28/2017

The question of whether cities can decide what to do with seized and forfeited guns — and a lot of other issues — could end up being decided based on how extensive the Arizona Supreme Court believes is the right of local governments to make their own laws.

During nearly an hour of arguments Tuesday, the justices peppered attorneys with questions ranging from whether they should even intercede in the dispute between Attorney General Mark Brnovich and the City of Tucson over its gun-destruction ordinance to the constitutionality of a 2016 law that Brnovich says gives him the power to withhold money from cities that enact local laws that he concludes run afoul of state statutes.

But Rick Rollman, representing the city, told the justices the issue is simpler than all that.

He pointed out the Arizona Constitution allows cities to establish their own charters. Nineteen, including Tucson, have gone that route…

The justices could sidestep the entire legal fight and simply decide they will not intercede in the fight between the state and the city, at least not at that point.

That, however, would not end the legal dispute. Tucson already has filed a separate lawsuit in Pima County Superior Court asking a judge there to declare unconstitutional the 2016 law giving Brnovich the power to order that state aid be withheld. And whatever the judge there rules would likely be appealed by whoever loses, putting the issue back before the high court.

Arkansas

Arkansas Bill to Ban Local Minimum Wage Hikes Fails
U.S. News and World Report, 3/13/2017

An effort to prevent cities and counties from raising the minimum wage higher than the state or federal rate has failed in the Arkansas Senate.

The Senate voted 14-10 in favor of the bill by Republican Sen. Bart Hester to prevent local governments from requiring business to pay workers a minimum wage or employment benefit higher than what’s required by state or federal law. The proposal needed at least 18 votes to advance to the House.

Bill Would Expand Arkansas Civil Rights Law to LGBT People
U.S. News & World Report, 3/1/2017

The bill filed Wednesday comes less than a week after the state Supreme Court struck down a Fayetteville ordinance banning discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The court ruled that the city ordinance violated a state law preventing cities and counties from enacting discrimination protections on a basis not covered in state law. Fayetteville was among several cities that passed anti-discrimination ordinances in response to the 2015 law.

Arkansas’ civil rights law currently doesn’t cover sexual orientation or gender identity.

Florida

Appeals court rejects gun rights group’s suit against city of Tallahassee
Florida Record, 3/13/2017

An appeals court recently handed a victory to the city of Tallahassee, rejecting a suit filed by a pair of guns-rights groups.

The suit challenged the city over ordinances that conflict with state law even though those ordinances were rarely enforced, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.

In its 25-page ruling, the 1st District Court of Appeal said the ordinances, even though they are still considered law, are null and void because of the state law and that the city has not tried to enforce them.

The appeals-court judges affirmed the decision of a Leon County circuit judge, who rejected the claims of Florida Carry Inc. and The Second Amendment Foundation Inc. Their lawyers argued that Tallahassee should have to repeal the laws and be blocked from enforcing them.

A ‘Ray’ Of Hope For Fracking Legislation This Year
WUSF, 3/9/2017

The House Majority Leader says there’s a chance a hydraulic fracturing bill could pass the Florida Legislature this year.

Representative Ray Rodrigues of Fort Myers opposes a statewide ban…

Fracking opponents fought Rodrigues’ attempts last year to preempt local fracking bans, but Rodrigues says their support for a statewide ban convinces him they’ve moved closer to his position.

Local leaders concerned about state preemption
WCTV, 3/7/2017

“Every year with the legislature, cities, counties, school boards, local governments, have to fight what’s known as preemptions; where the state puts into place things that prevent us from governing on a local level,” said City Commissioner Gil Ziffer. “This year is no different, but there are some that are really even beyond the pale of comparison from past years.”

One of those includes House Bill 17, which would take the management of businesses out of the hands of the city.

Citizens’ right to bear arms prompts constitutional crisis among Sarasota officials
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 3/3/2017

A constitutional crisis is looming in the 12th Judicial Circuit, a showdown of sorts between Chief Judge Charles Williams and Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight.

Late last month, Knight removed deputies from all of the court’s non-courtroom facilities — such as the Clerk of Court’s Office — where they formerly screened visitors for weapons, after the sheriff’s legal team determined that action could be in violation of the state’s powerful preemption statute, which allows only the Florida Legislature to regulate firearms.

In an administrative order hand-delivered to the Sheriff’s Office on Thursday, Williams ordered the Sheriff’s Office to return the deputies to the screening stations at the court facilities buildings, including the clerk’s office.

Sterling Davenport: Preemption bill would strip protections
The Gainesville Sun, 3/3/2017

HB 17 is a preemption bill, which means it invalidates local statutes that regulate “businesses, professions, or occupations.” “Local government” means everything from the School Board to the County Commission and anything in between. Sometimes preemption bills are aimed at specific issues. But this one is much broader. It covers any “regulation,” anywhere in the state. Any “regulation” passed after July 1 of this year would be rendered invalid and unenforceable.

If that wasn’t bad enough, this bill also contains a sunset provision which would invalidate any existing local regulation, no matter how long-standing. That would strip protections from every LGBT citizen in the state; it would keep cities and counties from protecting their environment; it would remove at a stroke all the progress we have made in making our local communities reflect our values.

Iowa

Iowa House Votes to Pre-empt Local Minimum Wage Hikes
KGLO, 3/10/2017

Iowa House Passes Stand Your Ground, Pro-Gun Measures
Caffeinated Thoughts, 3/7/2017

The Iowa House of Representatives passed HF 517, an omnibus gun bill, 58 to 39 on Tuesday afternoon. The bill passed out of the House Judiciary Committee before the funnel deadline.

The bill… had several pro-gun rights measures, including Stand Your Ground language packed into one bill, making it the largest gun bill in state history…

  • It prohibits any political subdivision (city, county, or township) from creating gun free zones that violate state preemption law.

Iowa lawmakers clash with local representatives over home rule authority
The Gazette (Cedar Rapids), 3/3/2017

With this legislative session — and with one party in firm control of the Iowa Senate, House and governor’s office — has come a flurry of bills that aim to pre-empt local authority from cities and counties and place it squarely in Des Moines.

Among these pre-emption measures is House File 295, which would pre-empt local governments from passing minimum wage ordinances and plastic bag bans.

Two identical bills in the House and Senate — HF 265 and SSB 1170 — that would require local governments and colleges to enforce federal immigration laws.

House Study Bill 11 doesn’t necessarily pre-empt local rule, but it aims to abolish the use of compensation boards by county officials when voting on raises.

“You add all those things up and it seems to me someone doesn’t want local governments to control their own destinies,” said Bill Peterson, executive director with the West Des Moines-based Iowa State Association of Counties.

Gun bill advances without ‘campus carry’ provision
The Des Moines Register, 3/1/2017

Wednesday after stripping out a provision that would have banned the Board of Regents from implementing gun-free policies on its college campuses…

House Study Bill 133 represents a broad rewrite of Iowa’s weapons laws and includes provisions enhancing “stand your ground” laws, allowing children to use handguns while under adult supervision and changing some permitting processes.

Kansas

New bill would pre-empt concealed-carry regulations devised by KU and other schools
Lawrence Journal-World, 3/9/2017

Pushing back against what they claim are unreasonable regulations on concealed-carry rights that the University of Kansas and other Regents institutions plan to implement on July 1, gun rights advocates have introduced a new bill in the Legislature that would prohibit public colleges and universities from enacting any limitations…

Megan Jones, a graduate student and instructor at KU expressed her objections to the bill even more bluntly.

“Campus-carry is only meant to defend and protect white men on campus,” she said, prompting a quick warning from committee chairman Rep. John Barker, R-Abilene, to focus her remarks on the bill being discussed.

“This is incredibly relevant because the universities cannot make policies that would protect students on our campuses who are at the most risk,” she said. “People are being threatened now on our university campuses for being black, for being LGBT, for not appearing the way all of the representatives for the NRA have appeared in front of this Legislature.”

Maryland

Senate gives preliminary approval to paid sick leave bill
The Washington Post, 3/10/2017

On Friday, March 10, 2017 the Maryland Senate passed SB0230, requiring all employers with 15 or more employees to provide safe and sick leave, and preempts local authority to set higher standards.

Minnesota

Plastic bag debate moves to State Capitol
KARE (Minneapolis NBC Affiliate), 3/7/2017

The plastic bag debate has moved to the State Capitol, as Republican lawmakers move to stop the City of Minneapolis from banning plastic bags in retail stores…

But Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen or Alexandria wants to trash that bag ban, with a bill that would prohibit local cities from limiting the types of bags retailers and consumers can use. It would also bar cities from enacting local fees aimed a curbing the use of disposable bags.

Citizens vow not to be silenced after House approves preemption bill
Workday Minnesota, 3/2/2017

The House voted 76-53 to pass a preemption bill that bars local governments from adopting measures to improve workplaces. It included a provision to retroactively rescind the earned sick and safe time ordinances passed by the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, depriving 150,000 people of paid leave when they are ill or need to care for a loved one.

The Republican-controlled Senate still must vote on the bill before it can go to Governor Mark Dayton, who is likely to veto it.

Mississippi

Sanctuary city ban gets House’s OK
Hattiesburg American, 3/7/2017

The Mississippi House advanced a bill to ban immigration sanctuary policies.

Senate Bill 2710 says cities, state agencies and public colleges can’t prevent employees from asking someone’s immigration status. These public agencies also can’t give legal status to people who entered the country without permission, such as by issuing an ID card.

The bill passed the House Tuesday and will return to the Senate.

Missouri

Missouri lawmakers work to pre-empt St. Louis wage increase
KTRS (St. Louis), 3/7/2017

Advocates of Local Control and Minimum Wage Score a Legal Victory in Missouri
Governing, 3/1/2017

The Missouri Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the state couldn’t bar St. Louis from establishing its own minimum wage. The ruling could bolster legal arguments in favor of a higher minimum wage in Kansas City if voters approve one in an upcoming election.

Nebraska

Firearms Preemption Law Before Legislature Would Void Some Local Gun Laws
KIOS Omaha Public Radio, 3/3/2017

The Nebraska Legislature is considering a firearms preemption law this year for the second time.  

LB 68, Introduced by Senator Mike Hilgers, is similar to a bill that was one vote short of passing the floor vote last year. We tried but were unsuccessful in reaching Senator Hilgers.

Amanda Gailey, founder of Nebraskans against Gun Violence, says firearms preemption laws, which currently exist in 43 states, prohibit towns, cities and villages from passing ordinances related to firearms ownership and carrying.

New Mexico

State legislation could block sugary drinks tax, Santa Fe mayor fears
NM Politics, 3/2/2017

House Bill 430 which, as introduced, would preempt local authority to enact excise taxes on food and beverages, is a response to Santa Fe’s plans to for a local soda tax initiative. The bill language was subsequently amended into the New Mexico’s budget bill. Although legislators agreed to remove the preemptive language from the budget bill on March 10, advocates continue to monitor the legislation.

North Carolina

NC bill would penalize sanctuary cities
Winston-Salem Journal, 3/1/2017

A bill filed in the N.C. Senate on Tuesday would financially penalize local governments that provide “sanctuary status” to unauthorized immigrants, and ban the use of any non-official identification documents as an alternative identification for such immigrants.

The bill, filed by N.C. Sen. Norman Sanderson, R-Pamlico, would also penalize public universities in the UNC system if they put into place sanctuary-type rules…

N.C. law already prohibits cities and counties from enacting sanctuary ordinancesThe Sanderson bill would enforce that law with financial penalties.

Ohio

Judge to decide soon whether to shut down quarry
Sandusky Register, 3/7/2017

Lawyers for the Ottawa County prosecutor and for a quarry in Benton Township clashed Tuesday over whether a judge should shut down operations at the Rocky Ridge Quarry in Benton Township…

The quarry is depositing the spent lime from a Toledo water filter plant, which it’s allowed to do under an Ohio EPA permit. It has applied separately for another Ohio EPA permit to deposit the lime waste in the quarry itself, filling it up…

The lawsuit brought by VanEerten contends that the lime dumping violates zoning rules for the quarry, which is partially zoned for industrial use but also includes land zoned for agricultural use…

Assistant Attorney General Janean Weber, representing the Ohio EPA, reminded the judge that she has filed a motion to intervene, and also a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that only the [State] EPA can consider any legal issue.

Oregon

HB 2469 would repeal some of Oregon’s preemption of local ordinances regulating or banning seeds, and therefore reestablish local authority to ban GMO seeds.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania lawmaker reintroduces gun pre-emption bill>
Guns.com, 3/9/2017

Firearm super-preemption reintroduced in Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania: Important Firearms Preemption Legislation Introduced In the General Assembly
NRA-ILA, 3/2/2017

SB5 and HB 671 are new super-preemption bills in the PA legislature.

OPINION: How the State Senate Is Trying to Undermine Philadelphia’s Pay-Equity Law
Philly Mag, 3/3/2017

…Equal Pay for Equal Work, has recently come under attack in the form of Senate Bill 241, which… aims to undermine municipalities with stronger pay-equity ordinances, like Philadelphia and so many of our surrounding towns and cities.

In order to chip away at local protections, the Republican caucuses in Harrisburg are utilizing their new favorite legislative tool devised by the… American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and their corporate members: preemption.

Tennessee

Tennessee transgender bathroom bill pulled; could be reintroduced/a>
WATE (Local ABC Affiliate), 3/7/2017

The sponsor of a state bill that would require Tennessee students to use bathroom and locker rooms matching the sex on their birth certificate has pulled it from consideration. The bill, however, could be reintroduced later in the session.

Smoking in Parks Could be Stopped by Cities
OakRidger, 3/2/2017

Currently, the city of Oak Ridge cannot restrict smoking in parks — but that could change.

New state laws could give the city more authority…Tennessee Senate Bill 0303 and House Bill 0122 would allow “local governments, airports and utility districts to regulate the use and possession of tobacco products in all public places. …” She said the bill had been referred to the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee and the House Agricultural and Natural Resources Subcommittee…

Council member Ellen Smith explained that currently state laws preempt local authority “over anything to do with smoking” except city-owned buildings. The city can not restrict its own parks or any other spaces.

“We have concerns about health and safety and fire related to parks and playgrounds,” Smith said.

“There’s some concern as to whether we can even tell people ‘Don’t put your cigarette butts in the mulch that might catch fire,'” she said.

Mark Green defends bill called ‘thin veneer’ for discrimination
The Tennessean, 2/26/2017

Democrats and Republicans in the Tennessee legislature and cities across the state are questioning a controversial bill they say is the first step down a path toward empowering discrimination and could keep cities “constantly” in court.

Senate Bill 0127, filed by Clarksville Republican Sen. Mark Green, would prohibit action against a business for its internal personnel and benefits policies so long as those policies are already compliant with state law…

Texas

‘Bathroom bill’ advances to full Senate
KVUE (Local ABC Affiliate), 3/7/2017

One of the most controversial and discussed bills of this Texas legislative session — the so-called “bathroom bill” — advanced out of committee following a marathon hearing…

If passed by both the Senate and House and signed into law, SB 6 would require people go by the sex on their current birth certificate when using bathrooms, locker rooms and showers in state buildings and public schools and universities.

Virginia

General Assembly passes anti-sanctuary cities bill
The Cavalier Daily, 3/1/2017

The General Assembly passed a bill Feb. 23 that would prohibit the establishment of sanctuary cities in Virginia…

The anti-sanctuary cities bill — HB 2000 — would prohibit localities from making provisions to impede the enforcement of federal immigration laws.

Wisconsin

Wisconsin Supreme Court approves passengers carrying guns on Madison buses
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/7/2017

Wisconsin’s Supreme Court on Tuesday sided with gun rights advocates and ruled that Madison’s transit agency cannot ban passengers from bringing weapons on the city’s buses…

The plaintiffs argue that Wisconsin’s Act 35, the state’s concealed carry law, pre-empts any local government from imposing stricter regulations on when and where license holders may take their guns.

A circuit judge and the Court of Appeals agreed that the Act 35 pre-emption rule only applies to counties, cities, villages or towns adopting ordinances or resolutions more strict than the state’s gun law, and not to an  “agency rule” of the transit commission.