Texas Republicans take aim at liberal cities
The Hill, 7/17/17
Nationally, at least 140 measures preempting local government actions were introduced in legislatures this year, according to Grassroots Change… Nineteen of those measures became law, including three so far in Texas.
“These have really become just out-and-out fights between the state legislature and communities,” said Mark Pertschuk, who runs Grassroots Change. “This is an issue of democracy.”
Pertschuk said laws that start at the city and state level have frequently become national models on everything from workers’ rights to public health — like child labor laws, fire prevention measures and smoking bans.
“Almost everything that keeps us from being crushed to death or dying from chronic disease… has [started] at the local level,” he said. Preemption laws “will stop innovation in civil rights, in safety and in community health.”
Justice Department makes new move against sanctuary cities
The Justice Department announced Tuesday that it will impose new grant conditions in a bid to make sure that federal money does not flow to so-called sanctuary cities.
Localities receiving funds through one of Justice’s most popular grant programs will have to meet two new conditions: allowing immigration authorities access to local jails and prisons, and giving the feds 48-hour notice before an illegal immigrant wanted by the feds is released.
Judge refuses to reinstate Trump sanctuary cities order
Chicago Tribune, 7/21/2017
A federal judge in San Francisco on Thursday refused to reinstate President Donald Trump‘s executive order to cut funding from cities that limit cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities.
U.S. judge unlikely to remove block on Trump sanctuary city order
A U.S. judge on Wednesday said he was “very much inclined” to maintain a court order that blocks President Donald Trump’s administration from carrying out a policy designed to threaten federal funds to so-called sanctuary cities.
At a hearing in San Francisco federal court, U.S. District Judge William Orrick III said a recent memo from the Justice Department that appeared to narrow the scope of Trump’s executive order on sanctuary cities did not remove the need for an injunction.
Washington Congresswoman Raises Objections To Online Sales Tax Preemption
KUOW (Seattle Public Radio), 7/25/2017
Democratic U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Seattle raised strong objections Tuesday at a Congressional hearing in Washington, D.C., about e-commerce taxation.
A House Judiciary subcommittee has before it a Republican-backed proposal to block states from demanding sales tax when online shoppers buy something from an out-of-state merchant.
“This bill could result in billions of lost revenue for our state, which would hurt our ability to pay for critical goods and services including education, construction and emergency responders, among other things,” Jayapal said during the hearing.
The newly approved Washington state budget relies in part on an expanded online sales tax. Jayapal’s opinion was in the minority at the hearing. Republican subcommittee members and several witnesses said online businesses need protection from what they characterized as an “onslaught” of state sales tax regulations.
Coming to a City Near You: Stolen Guns
Guns stolen from licensed dealers contribute to a vast illegal gun market in the U.S.—last year, nearly 7,500 firearms were stolen in gun-store burglaries…
City lawmakers who want to do something about their city’s contribution to the illegal gun market may find themselves hamstrung by their states’ preemption laws… Only five states don’t have any preemption restrictions on local laws. In California, which has limited preemption, Sacramento and Los Angeles passed ammunition record-keeping ordinances that let police compare records of local ammo sales against lists of people prohibited from owning firearms.
The Partisan Use Of Preemption Is Surging
Common Dreams, 7/19/2017
In just the past half-dozen years, some of the greediest corporations and grubbiest of politicos have colluded to take preemption into their own hands. Discarding the concept’s core principle of serving the public interest, they’re presently wielding its nullifying power as a cudgel to clobber democratic rule and impose special interest policies against the will of the people.
As you might expect, Trump & Co. are big on federal preemption. They’re targeting a multitude of state and local laws for extinction, including popular and effective provisions enacted to ensure workplace safety, provide consumer protection, establish sanctuary cities, expand voting rights, prevent air and water pollution, reduce gun violence, maintain public oversight of for-profit charter schools, improve children’s health and mitigate climate change.
It’s at the state level, however, that the intrusive and abusive power of preemption is exploding, as today’s right-wing governors and legislators rapidly escalate a state war to quash progressive actions by local governments and grassroots movements. Democracy be damned.
A Lawyer’s Playbook to Fight State Preemption
U.S. House panel approves broad proposal on self-driving cars
A U.S. House panel on Wednesday approved a sweeping proposal by voice vote to allow automakers to deploy up to 100,000 self-driving vehicles without meeting existing auto safety standards and bar states from imposing driverless car rules…
Let Liberal Cities Do What They Want; The conservative case against state ‘preemption.’
The National Review, 7/13/2017
Conservatives cannot afford to propagate the school of thought that recalcitrant local politics justifies intervention from above — this sort of ends-justify-the-means theorizing has been, and will always be, used as a battering ram to impose progressive policies on rebellious states. Defending localist principles even when doing so runs at odds with conservative policies in the short-term would signal that conservatives are genuinely committed to decentralized, small government and would help counter the largely false but damaging charge that federalism is little more than a right-wing tactic.
But localism is also justified in its own right. The principle of democratic self-governance is a higher one than the principles of economic or social conservatism, attached though we should be to all of these. Whenever a town or county votes to govern itself in a certain way and is slapped down by the state, it is a small defeat for popular sovereignty. It is not the role of the state governments to ensure that the lower levels of government make the right choices: The freedom of individuals to govern themselves and the freedom of individuals to collectively err are inextricable. The best argument for federalism has always been that of self-governance: What matter is it to California what level of taxation Texas prefers? Likewise, what matter is it to Houston what set of regulations Austin wishes to adopt? If Austin wishes to make itself less competitive, so be it. That is Austin’s prerogative.
To achieve its goals of reducing greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions linked to global warming, California relies upon a number of programs and policies, including a system of capping total GHG emissions from regulated source, but allowing the trading of GHG permits or allowances between regulated parties. As this “cap-and-trade” system is only authorized through 2020, the state faced several options regarding how best to extend the regulatory program beyond 2020, but in a way that achieves other public policies, including protecting the health of individuals in communities close to sources of GHG emissions.
Cap-and-Trade Extension: It’s a Compromise, But It’s What We Got
The two bills—A.B. 398 and A.B. 617—are companion bills… would extend the current cap-and-trade system, with some adjustments, until 2030. A.B. 617 is aimed at strengthening regulations on other emissions, apart from greenhouse gases, that have an immediate effect on people’s health…
A.B. 398 also contains a provision that, said de Leon, would “ensure that industries are not double-regulated” by local air districts as well as by the state. That provision was a source of contention for a number of opponents at the hearing, including advocates and representatives from the Bay Area air district, which has been in a protracted battle with Chevron over emissions.
California’s cap-and-trade bill is a giant wet kiss to big oil
Red, Green and Blue, 7/13/2017
[Lisa] Tucker [of Consumer Watchdog] said AB 398 creates “several exemptions” for the oil and gas industry and fossil fuel power plants from air pollution regulation by giving the Air Resources Board (ARB) total authority over their emissions. “It then straightjackets ARB’s oversight by requiring it to regulate only via cap-and-trade, prohibiting it from crafting meaningful greenhouse gas reduction goals,” she stated…
Brown’s legislation pre-empts local air quality districts that regulate the biggest refineries in the state, preventing them from setting stricter emissions limits that polluters would have to meet. [Emphasis added]
Cap-and-Trade Showdown: Will Big Oil Have the Last Word?
Capital and Main, 7/12/2017
The preemption language, which didn’t exist in California’s original 2006 climate law, seems to have been added at the behest of the oil industry. Governor Brown has been engaged in controversial negotiations with the industry to craft the cap-and-trade package. The language granting the state air board sole authority over carbon dioxide regulation comes directly from a power point circulated by the Western States Petroleum Association…
“We have spent literally the last five years working directly with our Bay Area Management District to create groundbreaking refinery rules around greenhouse gas emissions and local pollutants,” says [APEN executive director Miya] Yoshitani. “We have come very, very close to succeeding.” But if AB 398 passes, “our ability to make decisions about our own local air quality will now be preempted by the state. Our community is incredibly upset.”
Marin Lipowitz: Right-of-way bill a Telecom giveaway
The Union, 7/17/2017
Thank you, Nevada County Board of Supervisors, for joining the League of California Cities in opposing SB649 (California), the Telecom right-of-way bill. It passed the California Senate and is now in the Assembly.
The League of California Cities further notes that SB 649 prohibits local government discretionary review of location on poles, or non-pole structures. It would preclude public input regarding aesthetic, nuisance and other environmental impacts. Governments would not have priority to reserve space for public safety or efficiency technology such as police cameras or solar panels.
Cities, Counties Line Up Against Bill Removing Limits On Cell Transmitters
CBS Sacramento, 7/12/2017
Preemption: trying to quash plastic bag bans isn’t the only way the state is ignoring your will
Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, 7/25/2017
Coverage of preemption legislation and efforts to counter preemption in Florida.
Judge Again Extends Temporary Restraining Order Blocking Soda Tax
NBC 5 Chicago, 7/21/2017
A judge on Friday again extended a temporary restraining order blocking Cook County’s proposed tax on sugary beverages.
The order was extended to July 28, when the judge said he will issue a final ruling.
Our Views: When it comes to local choices, state leaders must know when to step back [editorial]
The Advocate (New Orleans/Louisiana), July 22, 2017
#SaveTheRaise campaign in St. Louis pushes back against preemption laws
The Washington Post, 7/15/2017
Missouri’s new preemption law cheats 38,000 workers out of a raise
Economic Policy Institute, 7/14/2017
In the suit, the groups representing restaurants, grocery stores, and convenience stores allege, among other things, that the City’s rule is preempted both expressly and impliedly by FDA’s Menu Labeling Rule, and thus seek to preliminarily and permanently enjoin the City from enforcing its rule.
These industry groups are not the only ones expressing preemption concerns over New York City’s menu labeling requirements. On the same day the groups filed suit, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael Burgess, M.D., (R-TX), and Committee member Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Gottlieb regarding state and municipal menu labeling rules. In the coincidentally-timed letter, Reps. Walden, Burgess, and McMorris Rodgers noted that they were “troubled to learn that despite the clear federal preemption in existing law, some states and municipalities are seeking to impose requirements that are inconsistent with federal nutrition-labeling standards,” and suggested that it is critical for the Agency to “publicly issue a statement expressing its jurisdiction over [menu labeling] and that [FDA’s rule] preempts conflicting state and municipal requirements.”
Today, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), New York Association of Convenience Stores (NYACS), and the Restaurant Law Center (RLC) filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to stop New York City from prematurely enforcing rules requiring calorie and nutrient information prior to a May 2018 compliance date established by the FDA. The lawsuit claims that New York’s premature enforcement is preempted by federal law.
Preemption of local control has played a central role in the Texas special session. Industry, community and professional groups, police officials, and local & state officials are speaking out against preemption. Covered here are preemption of local LGBTQ nondiscrimination policies, preemption over sanctuary city policies and preemption of local texting & driving ordinances.
City of Round Rock denounces bills targeting local control
Community Impact Newspaper, 7/25/2017
At Tuesday morning’s Round Rock City Council meeting, the council unanimously approved a resolution to oppose several bills in the special session targeting local control.
Bills the council specifically named include ones that address property tax, spending caps, tree protection, annexation and the bathroom bill…
The full resolution can be viewed here.
Governor agrees to meet with some Texas mayors over special session issues
Houston Chronicle, 7/25/2017
Cities want meeting with Abbott over local control
Houston Chronicle, 7/18/2017
Less than 24 hours after Gov. Greg Abbott blasted local government restrictions like tree ordinances as a threat to the “Texas brand,” city government leaders statewide are seeking a meeting with the Republican leader.
“We would like the opportunity to meet with you to discuss the role cities play in attracting jobs and investments to support the prosperity of the State of Texas,” a letter signed by 18 mayors, including Houston mayor Sylvester Turner to Abbott states.
Governor says local governments threatening the Texas brand
Houston Chronicle, 7/17/2017
Critics say Texas Gov. Greg Abbott catering to donors with special session priorities
4 Valley Central (CBS Local Affiliate), 7/15/2017
Dallas County tells state lawmakers they’re taking away local control ‘like California’
The Dallas Morning News, 7/13/2017
The state Legislature’s proposed property tax reforms are misguided, infringe on local control and would make Texas a “state centralized model, like California,” Dallas County commissioners said in a letter released Thursday.
Trees, texts and taxes: Texas lawmakers prep for heated debate over ‘local control’
The Dallas Morning News, 7/16/2017
In Texas Politics, A Brewing Battle Over State Vs. Local Control
KERA News (Texas NPR Affiliate), 7/20/2017
Mayor’s Corner: Legislature threatens local control
The Louisville Texan Journal, 7/20/2017
Two Views: Special session will known as ‘the summer the music died’
The Austin American-Statesman, 7/14/2017
The Republican-led Legislature will step up its efforts to pre-empt decisions of local voters on issues ranging from local taxes to tree protection, bathroom use, annexation and driving while texting. Next thing you know, they’ll order the removal of town names from water towers.
Preemption of Local LGBTQ Nondiscrimination Policies
Law enforcement comes out against Texas “bathroom bill”
The Texas Tribune, 7/25/2017
The growing list of public officials who oppose Republicans’ efforts to regulate bathroom use for transgender Texans now includes law enforcement.
Police chiefs from three of the five biggest cities in the state gathered at the Texas Capitol on Tuesday to spurn proponents’ claims that such legislation is needed to protect privacy, arguing that proposals being considered by the Legislature are discriminatory, won’t keep people safe and would divert law enforcement resources.
Texas Senate advances anti-transgender bathroom bill
Washington Blade, 7/25/2017
The Texas State approved legislation on Tuesday that would bar transgender kids from using certain restrooms consistent with their gender identity, inching the state closer to enacting the law despite objections the from transgender advocates, the business community and law enforcement.
By a 21-10 vote, the chamber approved Senate Bill 3, which would bar schools from allowing transgender students to use the restroom of their choice and undercut municipal non-discrimination protections for transgender people in restrooms, locker rooms and athletic activities.
The bill now heads to the House, where its fate is uncertain.
Texans Flood Statehouse to Speak Out Against ‘Bathroom Bills’
NBC News, 7/22/2017
Texas Is Aggressively Pushing An Anti-LGBT Bathroom Bill
KRISTV (Corpus Christi NBC Affiliate), 7/22/2017
For transgender Texans, defeating ‘bathroom bill’ is about saving lives
The Dallas Morning News, 7/18/2017
When Texas lawmakers return to Austin today for the special session, they’ll be fighting over the very lives of transgender teenagers and others in Texas, whether they’re willing to admit it or not.
This isn’t hyperbole, and it’s not a secret.
Just ask Speaker Joe Straus, the conservative Republican who leads the lower chamber. “I won’t have the suicide of a single Texan on my hands, “opposed the Senate version of the bill so desperately sought by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.
Texas begins special session highlighted by ‘bathroom bill’
The Washington Post, 7/18/2017
A special legislative session in Texas ordered by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott began Tuesday with loud protests over a revived “bathroom bill” targeting transgender people, renewed hostilities about a crackdown on immigration and GOP infighting that could keep demands of influential social conservatives again out of reach.
National law association boycotts Texas over anti-transgender policies
Austin American-Statesman, 7/14/2017
The American Association of Law Libraries says its upcoming conference in Austin will be its last in Texas, unless the state reverses what the group calls anti-LGBT policies.
North Texas families with transgender kids support one another, wage ‘war’ against bathroom bills
The Dallas Morning News, 7/15/2017
IBM takes out full-page ads against Texas ‘bathroom bill’
The Free Lance-Star, 7/14/2017
AT&T, other Dallas CEOs urge Gov. Abbott against Texas bathroom bill
My San Antonio, 7/17/2017
A proposed law to regulate transgender Texans’ access to restrooms would “seriously hurt the state’s ability to attract new businesses, investment and jobs,” more than a dozen Dallas-based CEOs told the state’s top three lawmakers Monday.
CEOs of 14 major Texas companies — including Doug Parker of American Airlines, Randall Stephenson of AT&T Inc., Gary Kelly of Southwest Airlines — joined a growing chorus of executives aligned against a potential bathroom law. The group bashed the bill as bad for business in a letter sent Monday to Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus.
Groups warn about ‘anti-LGBT’ legislation ahead of special session
The Dallas Morning News, 7/15/2017
Legislation that would bar transgender Texans from using bathrooms that align with their gender identity threatens the safety of the state’s most vulnerable citizens, leaders of several LGBT rights groups said Friday, four days before the start of a special legislative session.
Texas Senate moving fast to push through anti-transgender ‘bathroom bill’
LGBTQ Nation, 7/20/2017
Preemption of Sanctuary Cities
Democrats call for a vote to repeal the sanctuary city ban
Austin American-Statesman, 7/18/2017
Democrats on Tuesday called on a vote to repeal the sanctuary city ban passed during the regular session and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott.
“We ask [Straus] to bring SB 4 to the floor to repeal the bill,” said state Rep. Rafael Anchia, a Dallas Democrat and Mexican American Legislative Caucus chairman. “He knows it’s not a good bill. His constituents know it’s not a good bill.”
City of Laredo to join lawsuit against ‘sanctuary cities’ bill
Laredo Morning Times, 7/18/2017
A host of Laredo citizens spoke out against Texas’ Senate Bill 4 during Monday’s City Council meeting, saying the law will hurt the local economy, make some residents apprehensive about calling law enforcement and intrude upon police departments’ day-to-day priorities.
Laredo City Council agreed with their sentiments, and voted unanimously to join the lawsuit against the bill, which permits local peace officers to ask the people they detain or arrest about their immigration status, and furthermore punishes local officeholders who stop police from asking these questions.
Political divide deepens over immigration law as special session starts
KXAN (Austin NBC Affiliate), 7/20/2017
Preemption of Local Texting & Driving Ordinances
Police: Proposed statewide ban on texting too vague
The Eagle, 7/24/2017
Senate panel votes to override local phoning-while-driving laws
Austin American-Statesman, 7/22/2017
Driving a stake through local control
My San Antonio, 7/11/2017
One of the hallmark achievements of the regular legislative session was a statewide ban on texting while driving. So why would lawmakers undercut more stringent local laws during the forthcoming special session?
But undercutting local control is what Gov. Greg Abbott wants. In signing the statewide ban on texting and driving, he decried the “patchwork quilt of regulations that dictate driving practices in Texas.”
Many city laws are far more stringent. In San Antonio, drivers can’t use cellphones in moving vehicles unless there is an emergency. They also can’t use their phones while stopped at a red light…
It’s the conservative version of the nanny state, and it stymies local policymakers from making the best decisions for their communities and constituents. Decisions that voters can oppose in elections. As Abbott’s push to pre-empt local texting bans shows, pre-emption often means replacing good local policies that arose out of state indifference and replacing them with weaker policies or even no policy at all.