Texas’ War on Local Control is Part of National Trend
Texas Observer, 8/1/2017
Local officials in Texas’ big cities are awfully isolated these days. The Texas Legislature is attacking local control with the kind of zeal it usually reserves for criminals, and the governor has even refused to meet with some urban mayors. But the fight between red states and blue cities isn’t unique to the Lone Star State…
The state’s most infamous pre-emption measure is its “sanctuary cities” ban, set to go into effect September 1, but even that legislation isn’t as unusual as Texans might think.
Three other states — Georgia, Indiana and Mississippi — all passed “sanctuary” legislation this year, and at least 21 bills were filed in states around the country, according to Michael Bare, a policy analyst with Grassroots Change, a nonprofit that tracks pre-emption legislation. They were part of at least 140 total pre-emption bills filed this year, Bare said.
The Food and Drug Administration is suing the city in an effort to block its policy of labeling calories in restaurants and supermarkets.
The city rule was adopted in 2015 and was set to go into effect next Monday…
The FDA says it’s in the process of setting a uniform national standard and pushed their deadline for that back to 2018.
They say they believe local governments should be stopped from adopting any rules that conflict with federal regulations.
To Pruitt EPA: See You and Your Illegal TSCA Rules in Court
Because of the new law’s “preemption” provisions, EPA will not only fail to limit potentially dangerous exposures to the chemical, but it will largely prevent state and local governments from restricting exposures to the chemical as well.
California Sues Justice Dept. Over Funding for Sanctuary Cities
The New York Times, 8/14/2017
Intensifying California’s standoff with the Trump administration over immigration policy, the California attorney general sued the Justice Department on Monday over the administration’s plans to cut off millions of dollars in federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities unless they begin cooperating with federal immigration agents.
Emanuel seeks to block feds from imposing new grant rules on sanctuary cities
Chicago Tribune, 8/11/2017
As expected, the city filed a motion Thursday with U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber, requesting an injunction. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has moved to take away some public safety money from cities like Chicago that he says don’t sufficiently cooperate with federal immigration agents seeking to deport people in the country illegally.
Jeff Sessions’ Crackdown On Sanctuary Cities Deemed Unconstitutional By Lawyers For Bay Area Cities, Counties
San Rafael Patch, 7/27/2017
On Autonomous Vehicles, Don’t Let Feds Grab Power From The States
The Daily Caller, 7/27/2017
The House Energy and Commerce Committee tomorrow is voting on a bill to help automakers introduce autonomous vehicles (AVs) into the nation’s fleet of cars and trucks.
While the bill has broad bipartisan support, at issue are provisions in the bill that would pre-empt state laws – ostensibly to keep states from drawing up their own set of safety standards…
However, the bill could also theoretically up-end state laws that govern motor vehicle operation, which has a number of groups concerned. Consumer groups are worried about whether the law would end state lemon laws. Insurance companies are focused on state insurance regulations. Local car dealerships are concerned about state motor vehicle franchise laws.
Rep. Gabbard Urges USDA to Make GMO-Labeling Accessible
Maui Now, 8/4/2017
In July 2016, Congress passed GMO labeling standards into law that most called “weak” and “created a confusing web of disclosure options,” allowing companies to choose between on-package text, a USDA-regulated symbol, or an electronic or digital link (e.g., QR code).
Rep. Gabbard has supported transparent right-to-know labeling requirements, and strongly opposed the legislation signed into law because “it undermines Hawai’i and other states’ ability to mandate GMO labeling, exempts many common foods from labeling requirements, and creates unnecessary extra steps for consumers to access basic ingredient information.” The legislation also raised concerns by the FDA, as well as various environmental, food security, and consumer interest groups.
The Department of Energy Is Failing to Do Its Job
A growing number of states pursue clean energy development, including requirements for both energy efficiency in products and buildings and minimum levels of renewable energy and energy efficiency acquisition by utilities. Such states include both blue states and red states. But these standards for clean energy acquisition by utilities have been threatened by the Administration with federal pre-emption…
California has supported the Paris climate agreement to limit global warming and has the most comprehensive and ambitious program for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in North America, if not the world. Other states also have similar commitments and programs. A key component of several state programs is efficiency standards for energy-using equipment such as air conditioners. But DOE inaction on improving existing standards will pre-empt California and other states from pursuing stronger policies on their own. This is a clear conflict between DOE policy and the needs of the states…
The Hightower Report: The Living Wage Preemption Act
The Austin Chronicle, 8/4/2017
The governors of many states are boldly stepping forward these days to stop grassroots democracy.
Yes, noting that local citizens and officials have been passing local laws to govern themselves, a flock of right-wing governors are asserting an autocratic power called “state pre-emption” to overrule democratic decisions made by locals. Why do these governors hate democracy? Because their corporate funders don’t like some of the laws local people support…This is not a matter of a rogue governor here or there, but a coordinated effort by corporate interests to get governors to usurp local authority.
Law professor weighs in on SAGA legislation
WGRZ (Buffalo NBC Affiliate), 8/1/2017
Republican Congressman Chris Collins has introduced the Second Amendment Guarantee Act – or SAGA. It would limit the authority of states when it comes to regulating rifles and shotguns.
If the bill passes, most of the language included in the SAFE Act would be void.
That’s also true for any other state that has tough anti-gun laws.
Collins proposal to overturn SAFE Act faces long legislative road
The Buffalo News, 7/31/2017
The SAFE Act will be in mortal danger if Rep. Chris Collins gets his way…
Collins’s proposed law — the Second Amendment Guarantee Act, or SAGA — would overturn current state and local gun laws that are more stringent than federal regulations, while blocking states and localities from enacting any such laws in the future.
Exclusive: Divisions escalate between red states and blue cities
USA Today, 8/15/2017
Bloomberg View: Republicans should stop blocking cities from acting
The Salt Lake Tribune, 7/27/2017
As a general matter, governments at all levels should stay out of bedrooms and bathrooms. And wherever possible, states should stay out of the way of cities. There will be times when regulatory uniformity is necessary, but states should give greater deference — and Republicans should offer more than lip service — to the principle of local control.
Appellate court to resolve Sarasota sheriff, judge impasse
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 8/10/2017
The case centers on what constitutes a courthouse and the sheriff’s role in screening for weapons, including guns, in non-court facilities…
Knight’s legal advisers recommended that deputies be pulled from the screening stations because they were concerned the practice could expose deputies to severe sanctions under Florida’s preemption statute.
Violations of the state’s preemption statute, 790.33, by a public official can lead to $5,000 fines and other costs, which the official must pay personally. If the offender is an elected official, the person can be removed from office.
Local officials bristle at being overruled by Tallahassee
Orlando Sentinel, 8/5/2017
St. Petersburg considers ban on plastic bags, but it won’t be easy
Tampa Bay Times Online, 7/27/2017
The next city in Florida to ban single-use plastic bags could be St. Petersburg.
A City Council committee voted 3-1 on Thursday to start drafting a citywide ban on those bags because they’re a menace to the environment…In May, Coral Gables was the first Florida city to adopt such a ban…
But the council’s decision could also set the city on a collision course with the state over pre-emption. The Legislature made Florida the first state in the nation to block local governments from banning plastic bags in 2008…
Judge OKs Cook County soda tax
Chicago Sun-Times, 7/28/2017
A judge on Friday lifted the temporary restraining order on the controversial penny-per-ounce soda tax, paving the way for retailers to start collecting on Wednesday.
Court strikes down Montgomery County’s ban on lawn pesticides
Washington Post, 8/3/2017
Judge Strikes Down Montgomery County’s Pesticide Ban
Bethesda Magazine, 8/3/2017
Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Terrence McGann…ruled that state law preempts the law that the County Council passed in 2015.
The county law, set to go into effect in January, would have banned residents from using certain pesticides on private property. It was intended to limit the overuse of pesticides that have been the subject of studies showing a general harm to the people, animals and the environment. However, McGann ordered that the law not go into effect as scheduled.
Minneapolis gives preliminary approval to fee for plastic, paper bags
Star Tribune, 8/8/2017
The council passed an ordinance banning plastic bags and charging a fee for paper bags last year. But on May 30, two days before the ordinance was supposed to take effect, Gov. Mark Dayton signed a budget bill with a provision that prohibits cities from banning any type of bag.
The new version of the ordinance takes advantage of the fact that the state pre-emption measure doesn’t stop cities from charging a bag fee.
Missouri GOP Killed St. Louis’ $10 Wage Floor. Now Activists Want A Statewide Vote On $12.
Huffington Post, 8/7/2017
Politicians turn states’ rights into states’ wrongs
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8/2/2017
[W]e need to fight these pre-emption laws with the same vigor we fight for any other important cause, because pre-emption doesn’t just affect one issue, but a whole host of vital issues…
The recent state pre-emption laws are making it clear just how fragile our democratic rights really are. It’s up to all of us to stand up for our voice and our democracy.
ACLU of Montana challenges legal sufficiency of anti-LGBTQ ballot initiative
LGBT Weekly, 7/31/2017
The ACLU of Montana today challenged in the Montana Supreme Court the legal sufficiency of a proposed anti-LGBTQ ballot initiative, I-183. The petition argues that the ballot and fiscal impact statements fail to adequately explain the initiative’s discriminatory impacts on transgender individuals and state and local budgets…
In the 2017 Montana legislative session, nearly identical anti-LGBTQ [bathroom] legislation was rejected in committee on a bipartisan vote. Opponents successfully argued, and legislators on both sides of the aisle understood, that the impacts to Montana’s LGBTQ community and to state and local economies would damage the state and did not reflect Montana values.
For the third time in the past month, a federal court has upheld a state program to pursue support for clean energy, including renewable energy certificates (RECs), and zero emission credits (ZECs) in New York and Illinois…
Last Tuesday, the federal district court for the Southern District of New York dismissed all of the claims against the state’s ZEC program in Coalition for Competitive Electricity, et al v. Zibelman, rejecting the generators’ claims that the program violated the dormant Commerce Clause and was preempted by the Federal Power Act (FPA)…
Oregon Grocery Initiative May Sink Multnomah County Soda Tax
Oregon Public Broadcasting, 7/27/2017
A proposed tax on sugary sodas in Multnomah County could fall victim to a statewide ballot measure sponsored by the Oregon grocery industry.
The industry is pushing forward with an initiative that would ban taxes on the sale of food in Oregon…
But the grocery initiative would also cover new taxes on sugar-laden sodas, which many health researchers blame for growing problems with obesity and diabetes.
“This grocers’ initiative would just eliminate our ability to make those decisions locally,” said Terri Steenbergen, manager of the Healthy Kids & Education Initiative.
Her group may seek to put a measure on the May ballot that would impose a 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on the sugary beverages.
Legal challenge brewing as PA township mulls gun discharge ordinance
A tiny borough in northwestern Pennsylvania could face a big legal challenge over a proposed ordinance banning gun discharges…
…regulating firearms over and above state law remains unconstitutional in Pennsylvania, according to Joshua Prince, an attorney with Prince Law Offices. His gun rights defense firm, the Firearms Industry Consulting Group, promised a legal battle should Strattanville enact the ordinance.
Major ‘Bathroom Bill’ Supporter to Focus on 2019 Legislature
U.S. News & World Report, 8/10/2017
A major supporter of restricting which facilities transgender students could use in South Dakota schools plans to pause its effort at the Capitol and instead wait until the 2019 session when a new, potentially more favorable governor will be in office, a top official said Thursday.
Texas House Adjourns Sine Die, Ending Special Session Without Passing New Anti-Transgender Bill
Human Rights Campaign, 8/15/2018
“Finally, Texans can breathe a temporary sigh of relief, as the Texas House has adjourned its special session sine die without passing a new anti-transgender law during the special session,” said JoDee Winterhof, senior vice president for policy and political affairs at the Human Rights Campaign.
Judge Won’t Give Texas ‘Sanctuary City’ Ban Early Blessing
U.S. News & World Report, 8/9/2017
A federal judge Wednesday threw out Texas‘ efforts to have a “sanctuary cities” ban preemptively declared constitutional in a victory for the state’s largest cities, including Houston and Dallas, which want the immigration crackdown blocked before it takes effect in September.
U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks of Austin made no judgment on the legality of what opponents condemn as a “show me your papers” measure. He instead only narrowly ruled that Texas jumped the gun in rushing to court to defend a law that has yet to be implemented.
Activists call to turn up the heat in fight on ‘sanctuary city’ law
Austin American-Statesman, 7/28/2017
Opponents of Texas’ Senate Bill 4 banning so-called sanctuary cities delivered a 23,574-signature petition to Gov. Greg Abbott on Friday afternoon, with a rowdy news conference on the Capitol steps meant to show that opposition to the law isn’t going away.
Stop fight against local control
Denton Record-Chronicle, 8/7/2017
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott should stop his war against city governments. He is up for re-election next year and wants to curry favor with all the special interests that chafe under local regulations enacted by city councils.
Abbott’s motivation is clear. He wants to finance his campaign with cash from those same special interests.
Here’s a perfect example of why case-by-case regulations are necessary. Fewer than 10 Texas municipalities have banned single-use plastic bags, but they’ve done so for different reasons. Ranchers in the conservative West Texas town of Fort Stockton complained that the windswept bags interfered with feeding their cattle. In South Padre Island, the bags killed marine wildlife and turned off tourists who didn’t want to go to a trash-littered beach.
Businesses becoming governor’s ‘enemies’
Houston Chronicle, 8/7/2017
Editorial: Texans should stand up against state overreach of local control
Longview News-Journal, 8/5/2017
Controversial Texas tax bill moves to House floor, where critics fear it will be red meat for ‘ravenous wolves’
My San Antonio, 7/28/2017
AUSTIN – A proposal to limit local property tax increases cleared a key hurdle Friday when it was backed by the House Ways and Means Committee with a vote of 8-1.
The move was greeted with dismay by San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who said the state is “killing us” when it comes to the city’s ability to provide and maintain good infrastructure.
The Texas Legislature’s Chainsaw Massacre
Texas Observer, 7/28/2017
At least 90 cities and counties in Texas have ordinances protecting trees…
Unlike many causes at the Capitol, there is no grassroots outcry to overturn the tyranny of tree rules. Perhaps that’s because most people, conservative, liberal or indifferent, are not ideologues who throw temper tantrums when their community has democratically decided, through the instrument of local government, to preserve a highly valued part of the commons. At a Senate committee hearing last week, only two people testified in favor of Senate Bill 14, legislation passed by the Senate on Wednesday that would more or less obliterate city and county tree rules. Forty-four people, however, signed up to speak against the measure…
SB 14 is a particularly ridiculous part of the concerted attack on “local control” — the laissez-faire Texas tradition of the state leaving most matters to the local institutions of school board, city council and county commission. Of the 20 matters Abbott put on the special session agenda, half are proposals that would undermine cities’ ability to govern themselves.
Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson shares concerns about local control with Gov. Greg Abbott
Amarillo Globe-News, 7/27/2017
Nirenberg reaffirms his commitment to fight for local control
My San Antonio, 7/27/2017
Nirenberg repeated his criticisms of the state Legislature in the latter half of the forum, addressing a number of special session proposals that would limit local control, including bills to limit the amount of property taxes municipalities can raise without a rollback election and the ability of municipalities and school districts to set bathroom policies for transgender people.
National group alarmed at Texas Senate’s ‘quick strike’ against cities
Houston Chronicle, 7/28/2017
Cities and counties nationwide are sounding the alarm over the Texas Senate‘s “quick strike” assault on local governments and vowing to do something about it.
A national group calling itself Campaign to Defend Local Solutions said the state Senate went too far this week in trying to impose itself on local governments by trying to restrict everything from bathroom policies, to building permit processing and even tree ordinances.
Texas Senate intensifies attack on cities over local control
Houston Chronicle, 7/26/2017
Senate backs bill that would roll back cellphone safety laws in dozens of Texas cities
The Texas Tribune, 7/26/2017
Seattle’s gun tax upheld, and one firearms business may move
KOMO News, 8/10/2017
The Washington Supreme Court upheld Seattle’s so-called “gun violence tax” against a challenge from gun-rights groups Thursday…
The ruling dismayed Mike Coombs, co-owner of the Outdoor Emporium in SODO. The business pays about 80 percent of the gun and ammo taxes collected in the city. It’s the largest gun seller in the city…
Coombs, along with the National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups sued and others challenged the tax in a lawsuit. They argued that under state law, the power to regulate firearms is by and large reserved to the state. Seattle’s measure was properly viewed as a regulation designed to hinder gun sales, not a tax, they argued.
In her opinion for the majority, Justice Debra Stephens disagreed.
State law “grants Seattle broad authority to tax retailers for the privilege of doing business within city limits,” she wrote.