Flouting Paid-Sick-Day Laws
The New York Times, 7/9/2017
“Red States and Blue Cities: A Partisan Battle Intensifies” (front page, July 6) mentions the flawed argument by the industry-backed American Legislative Exchange Council that local laws create a “patchwork” of regulations for business. But when the coalitions in our network, which include many business partners, work to pass statewide paid-sick-day laws, these same opponents complain about one-size-fits-all solutions.
Now conservative legislators are working on a federal pre-emption bill, which would allow big companies that meet a voluntary threshold to flout local and state paid-sick-day laws. We cannot let them succeed.
ELLEN BRAVO, MILWAUKEE
The writer is co-director of Family Values @ Work, a network of state and local coalitions working for family-friendly policies.
People’s Right to a Healthy Climate Takes Center Stage in Federal Court
Common Dreams, 7/11/2017
Spokane residents fighting for the right to a healthy climate will have their day in court on Wednesday, July 12th, in the case of Holmquist v. United States (No. 2:17-cv-00046-TOR).
The case was filed on behalf of seven residents by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) in January 2017. The plaintiffs contend the federal government has failed to take adequate steps to secure and protect the right to a livable and healthy climate. They challenge the federal government’s preemption of local regulation over the transportation of fossil fuels by rail, asserting that such transportation violates their right to a healthy and livable climate.
A Problematic Approach to Privacy
U.S. News & World Report, 7/7/2017
…Balancing the Rights of Web Surfers Equally and Responsibly Act, aka the BROWSER Act, is a half-measure that dismantles existing privacy protections.
Two of the bill’s provisions actively undermine individual’s privacy:
First, the bill pre-empts state privacy laws. States have often led the way in protecting our privacy, but rather than offering thoughtful pre-emption for truly conflicting state standards, the bill forecloses any state attempt to protect its residents’ privacy.
Second, the bill makes the Federal Trade Commission the sole regulator of broadband privacy, despite the fact that the FTC’s ability to make rules is much weaker than the Federal Communications Commission. The FTC is a small agency with limited resources, and consumers are better protected with two privacy cops than one.
Police lobby group urges lawmakers to scuttle national reciprocity
The National Law Enforcement Partnership to Prevent Gun Violence, composed of an alliance of various police chief lobbying groups, on Friday penned a Congress urging lawmakers to decline support for a pair of national concealed carry reciprocity bills. The measures, the H.R. 38 and S.446, respectively, would expand carry rights nationwide, in effect forcing states and local jurisdictions to respect all valid concealed carry permits, a move the group feels is a mistake.
U.S. House panel to unveil self-driving car legislation soon -Aide
The Economic Times, 7/11/2017
U.S. House Republicans expect to introduce bills later this week that would bar states from setting their own rules for self-driving cars and take other steps to remove obstacles to putting such vehicles on the road, a spokeswoman said…
GM, Alphabet Inc, Tesla Inc and others have been lobbying Congress to pre-empt rules under consideration in California and other states that could limit self-driving vehicle deployment.
My Turn: Sick of drones getting in the way? Blame the feds for that
The Arizona Republic, 7/10/2017
Fortunately, a new bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate would provide valuable guidance regarding the true scope of the FAA’s authority to regulate civilian drones. If enacted, the Drone Federalism Act would help to resolve a longstanding dispute between the FAA and the states by making clear that the agency is not empowered to preempt all state and local restrictions on low-altitude drone flying…
The Drone Federalism Act would end much of the FAA preemption controversy. The bill’s language expressly prohibits the FAA and other federal agencies from preempting most state and local restrictions on civilian drone activities, meaning that states and cities could more freely restrict the time, place, and manner of drone operations on their own.
ALEC’s Covert War on Democracy
Common Dreams, 7/3/2017
Achieving corporate goals begins with targeting local government regulations that might impede corporate profits. Ostensibly to promote limited government…
Preemption laws are part of a dual-track strategy used by corporations and politicians to block progressive policies at the local level. The second track occurs when industries and trade associations file a barrage of lawsuits against local governments as a warning to other localities against considering the same policies…
Because it is easier for industry to work their money and influence in 50 state legislatures than in thousands of municipalities, ALEC creates model state preemption laws to directly or retroactively block local laws and ordinances. Preemption laws strip the right of local governance surrounding every conceivable issue, including minimum wage, paid sick leave and benefits, pensions, rent control, community broadband, cyanide heap leach mining, high-volume slick-water hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), pesticide and GMO restrictions, plastic bag bans, gun safety laws, factory farming, or anything else industry desires to control.
Blue Cities Want to Make Their Own Rules. Red States Won’t Let Them.
New York Times, 7/6/2017
In the last few years, Republican-controlled state legislatures have intensified the use of what are known as pre-emption laws, to block towns and cities from adopting measures favored by the left. The states aren’t merely overruling local laws; they’ve walled off whole new realms where local governments aren’t allowed to govern at all.
The pattern has worsened a different kind of partisan war beyond Washington, where the political divide cuts not just across the aisle, but across different levels of government. As standoffs between red states and blue cities grow more rancorous, the tactics of pre-emption laws have become personal and punitive: Several states are now threatening to withhold resources from communities that defy them and to hold their elected officials legally and financially liable.
House Passes ‘Kate’s Law,’ Votes to Defund Sanctuary Cities
NBC News, 6/29/2017
The House passed two bills Thursday to boost President Donald Trump’s immigration crackdown.
The bills — “Kate’s Law” and the “No Sanctuary for Criminals Act” — would up the penalties on undocumented immigrants who attempt to reenter the country illegally after being deported for crimes and slash funds from cities that protect them.
Editorial: Wireless facility bill will circumvent local control
Pleasanton Weekly, 7/6/2017
Thank you, Sen. Steve Glazer (D-Orinda), for being the lone No vote on Senate Bill 649, which, in essence, usurps local government control of public right-of-ways and restricts their ability to collect rent for putting cell towers on public property.
Judge blocks Cook County soda pop tax
Chicago Tribune, 6/30/2017
A judge on Friday put Cook County’s penny-per-ounce tax on sweetened beverages on hold at least until July 12. It was set to go into effect Saturday.
The ruling by Circuit Judge Daniel Kubasiak to grant a temporary restraining order came days after the Illinois Retail Merchants Association and several grocers filed a lawsuit against the Cook County Department of Revenue seeking to block the tax, which they argue is unconstitutional and too vague.
Indiana first state to scrap local “Ban the Box” laws
South Bend Tribune, 7/2/2017
Indiana has become the first state in the nation to ensure that employers can ask job seekers about their criminal histories when they fill out applications.
Over the past decade, so-called “Ban the Box” laws have grown in popularity as an effort to help ex-offenders re-enter society and stay out of prison. They prohibit employers from requiring applicants to check the box on applications asking whether they have been convicted of a crime. Such laws seek to establish an environment in which employers can still learn that information before making a hiring decision, but the disclosure comes later in the process so that the ex-offender can at least land an interview.
Lansing Republicans drop the mantle of ‘local control’
Bridge; The Center for Michigan, 6/29/2017
Coverage of Michigan battles between state preemption and local control across a variety of topics.
Republican Lawmakers Take A Raise Away From St. Louis Workers
The Huffington Post, 7/9/2017
While preemption laws have been around for years, Republicans are increasingly turning to them to nullify local liberal policies. According to a February report from the National League of Cities, 24 states now block local minimum wage hikes, 17 block local paid leave mandates, and three block local anti-discrimination measures…
The laws have become a particularly effective tool for blunting the “Fight for $15” campaign, a union-funded initiative aimed at raising the minimum wage and unionizing low-wage workers…The preemption laws have provided Republican state officials with a way to block proposals that poll extremely well and have strong financial backing from unions.
For the second time since 2015, the Oregon Legislature has stripped language out of a bill that would have increased the state’s regulation of oil trains…
Smith Warner said…she and other lawmakers ran up against limitations in federal law.
“I cannot emphasize enough how challenging it is to do state level work with railroads. Because they have the power of 200 years of federal preemption legislation on their side,” she said.
Local manufacturer disappointed after bill vetoed
We Are Central PA, 6/30/2017
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has vetoed House Bill 1071, which would have preempted local governments from adding taxes, fees or surcharges for plastic bags.
Most Texas Residents Oppose Transgender “Bathroom Bills”
Public Religion Research Institute, 7/6/2017
Texas House Speaker Takes Stand Against Anti-Trans Bill, Cites Suicide Risk
The Advocate, 7/6/2017
Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has spoken out against the anti-transgender “bathroom bill” that legislators will consider in a special session this month, saying, “I don’t want the suicide of a single Texan on my hands.”
Lawmakers file dozens of bills as Abbott officially calls special session
The Texas Tribune, 7/10/2017
Within hours of Gov. Greg Abbott issuing his proclamation announcing next week’s special session, lawmakers had filed dozens of bills including two so-called bathroom bills from state Rep. Ron Simmons, a Carrollton Republican…
When Abbott announced the special session in early June, he reiterated his support of HB 2899, a bill from Simmons pushed during the regular session that is similar to HB 46. A more restrictive version of the measure from the regular session, Senate Bill 6 from state Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, would have required transgender Texans to use bathrooms in public schools and government buildings that match their “biological sex” and prohibited local governments from adopting or enforcing their own regulations on the issue. No Senate “bathroom bill” had been filed as of Monday afternoon, but Abbott has said he expects Simmons and Kolkhorst to lead on the issue during the special session. [Emphasis added]
Texas Lawmaker Files Bill to Repeal SB 4 During Special Session
Texas Observer, 7/10/2017
On Monday morning, about two hours after Governor Greg Abbott issued a proclamation permitting lawmakers to file bills for the upcoming special session, Representative Ramón Romero filed a proposal to repeal Senate Bill 4, the “sanctuary cities” ban.
Don’t weaken conceal-carry in special session
My San Antonio, 7/8/2017
…we know that gun rights groups are hounding Gov. Greg Abbott to add the permitless carry of handguns to the special session agenda.
This past legislative session, House Bill 1911 and House Bill 375, two permitless carry bills that would have dismantled the state’s license to carry, or LTC, system, died before ever reaching the floor. Neither bill gained enough traction to make it to a vote because lawmakers saw how dangerous it would be to dismantle such a vital public safety measure.
Requiring a permit ensures that Texans who choose to carry hidden, loaded handguns in public complete essential safety training. These licensing and training requirements include a background check, basic handgun safety, responsible storage, and training on keeping guns out of the hands of unsupervised children.
Texting while driving preemption law on Special Session agenda
KVUE (Austin ABC Affiliate), 7/7/2017
Starting September 1st, it will be against the law for drivers to send or read any electronic message with their handheld device while their vehicle is moving. That includes text messages, emails and direct messages on social media. Drivers can still use their phones, in their hands, to operate GPS or to play music.
But the rules aren’t exactly that black and white. The new law over-rides city ordinances, but only those related to electronic messages, GPS and music apps. So city “hands-free” rules on all other phone use still apply.