Food and Nutrition
State bills banning taxes on sugary drinks gain momentum
Since 2015 when Berkeley, California implemented a soda tax in an effort to reduce the consumption of sugary beverages, the controversial initiative has appeared in other places such as Philadelphia and briefly in Cook County, Illinois…
Soda giants PepsiCo, Coca-Cola Co. and Dr Pepper Snapple have blasted these measures as a money grab by municipalities, saying they unfairly singled out sweetened beverages when the intention was to improve public health by reducing sugar intake.
It’s not a surprise that the soda industry — behind the American Beverage Association trade group — has gotten more active in the legislative process to prevent these taxes from being implemented in the first place.
There’s another reason why neighbors may start taking on companies instead of farmers. “Right to farm” laws, which have passed in all 50 states in the last few decades, don’t allow neighbors to file nuisance suits against farmers if the farmer and the farming operation was there first — unless the farm is breaking laws or environmental regulations. In the North Carolina case, the neighbors were there first.
While Iowa’s right to farm law is being challenged as unconstitutional due to property rights, Branan said there’s also a possible legal loophole, because the right to farm laws may not apply if someone sues a company instead of the farmer.
The States Are Attacking Local Civil Rights Law
The Progressive, 5/31/2018
A new report by the Movement Advancement Project and partner organizations identifies local ordinances that extend anti-discrimination protections to LGBTQ people as a target of state legislature’s “preemption” of local governments.
According to the report, over 300 cities and counties have passed ordinances to protect residents against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. But states are fighting back.
Of the twenty-eight states that have not passed LGBTQ protections, three—North Carolina, Arkansas and Tennessee—have passed laws that prohibit municipalities from doing so. In the last two years, twelve other similar bills have been proposed in eight states, according to Movement Advancement Project. And twenty states have considered bills to effectively prohibit local ordinances that allow for inclusive restrooms for transgender people.
In Lieu of Thoughts and Prayers
Most states have laws broadly preventing local governments from regulating guns. Since the 1980s, prompted by the NRA and other gun-rights groups, at least 43 states have passed “preemption” laws, which advocates argue prevent a burdensome patchwork of local rules.
In states without preemption, such as California, cities have the flexibility to impose local gun-control policies. San Francisco requires safe storage in a locked container when the owner isn’t carrying his gun, which studies show can prevent accidental shootings, a leading cause of death for children.
Federal Judge Sides With Philadelphia Over Sanctuary City Policy
NBC Chicago, 6/6/2018
U.S. District Judge Michael Baylson issued a 93-page memo Wednesday saying the conditions placed on Philadelphia by the federal government in order to receive the funding are unconstitutional, “arbitrary and capricious.” He also wrote that Philadelphia’s policies are reasonable and appropriate.
How the local pre-emption bills for plastics fared this session
Friends of the Mississippi River, 5/30/2018
In Colorado, a Fracking Boom and a Population Explosion Collide
The New York Times, 5/31/2018
While oil and gas companies have long operated in Colorado, they flooded the region in the 2000s as increased use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, unlocked possibilities. By 2013, communities along the Front Range were pushing for control of their own backyards, enacting laws that tried to curb fracking near homes and playgrounds.
This culminated in 2016, when the Colorado Supreme Court shot down municipal fracking bans, saying that state power to regulate the industry trumped local measures.
The ruling emboldened producers, and today fights are raging between residents and operators over large-scale projects planned for Boulder County and the city of Broomfield, while companies are inundating regulators with applications to drill in some of the region’s most populous areas.
County Commission may consider legal action against state
Tampa Bay Newspapers, 7/11/2018
Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long is concerned about home rule authority and the separation of powers as it pertains to local governments’ ability to regulate firearms…
The State Legislature “enhanced” the preemption of firearms and ammunition in 2011 by “striking the existing limited exemptions and including specific penalties for violations of preemption,” according to a memo from Managing Assistant County Attorney Christy Donovan sent to commissioners May 25.
According to Donovan’s memo, prohibitions and penalties include:
- Civil fines up to $5,000 against elected or appointed local government officials under whose jurisdictions a knowing and willful violation, through the adoption of an improper local ordinance or administrative rule, occurred;
- The express prohibition against using public funds to defend or reimburse “the unlawful conduct of any person found to have knowingly and willfully violated” the preemption;
- The legislative finding that a knowing and willful violation by “any person in an official capacity for any entity enacting or causing to be enforced” a local ordinance, rule or regulation that is preempted shall be cause for termination of employment/contract or removal from office by the governor…
Wilton Manors Sues State to Get Rid of Preemption Rule
South Florida Gay News, 5/31/2018
According to state law, local governments are not allowed to pass firearm regulations. If they do, each official who participates can be fined up to $5,000 and be removed from office, and any regulations they pass would just be removed by the state…
Florida preemption laws vs. gun reform: A fight worth winning
Duluth ordinance restricting sale of flavored tobacco products to kick in June 12
Duluth News Tribune, 5/27/2018
Duluth and other cities have proven to be leaders in tobacco regulation, but McKone isn’t surprised there have been efforts to curb their authority with state legislation that would pre-empt local control. She suggested tobacco interests with deep pockets hold less sway at the local level.
“They know they have much more power at the state and federal levels, because they’re spending $1 million an hour to market a deadly product. And they spend thousands of dollars during legislative sessions across the country, millions of dollars to fight the work we’re doing at those levels,” she said.
“But they’re less effective at the local level, and pre-emption is one of the big cards in their deck. They want to stifle that ability of communities to make those decisions,” McKone said.
Lead, follow or get out of the way
Mayor Alan Webber, Santa Fe, NM, Santa Fe New Mexican, 5/26/2018
Instead, here’s what I’m saying to the governor and the state Legislature: When it comes to guns and gun violence, lead, follow or get out of the way. If you’re going to pre-empt us at the local level from enacting sensible legislation against gun violence, then do something yourselves. If you’re not going to do anything, then give us back our local control so we can.
The smell of money: Jim Crow lingers in factory farming
The Herald-Sun, 5/30/2018
Numerous lawsuits have been filed, but citizens are up against an immensely powerful and entrenched industry. North Carolina has a “right to farm” law, which makes it difficult for neighbors to protect themselves, and enacted additional legislation last year to further undermine citizens’ rights and ability to seek restitution after having passed an “ag gag” law in 2016 to prevent the public from learning about the abuses of factory farming…
This local preemption bill is bad government at its worst
State Representative Maria P. Donatucci, PennLive, 6/2/2018
The issue is legislation (HB2241) sponsored by Rep. Mark Mustio, R-Allegheny, which proposes to preempt the Philly Beverage Tax and ban other municipalities from adopting any local tax on food or drink.
Interestingly, the tax was created to fill a funding gap caused by Harrisburg’s continued failure to adequately fund public education. In this case, after the City’s requests for education funding were rejected, the City decided to solve the problem itself, by passing the Beverage Tax.
So my question to my Republican colleagues is this: Why interfere in a strictly local issue?
Standing with TEP Against a Tide of Anti-LGBT Legislation
Out & About Nashville, 5/27/2018
Talking Points, Memo, 6/8/2018
In February, Austin’s city council passed an ordinance requiring businesses to provide paid sick leave. Activists are poised to get similar measures on the November ballot in San Antonio and Dallas, via citizen-led initiatives.
But they’re are also girding for the next stage of the battle… That could expand the fight over paid sick days into a more elemental battle over the authority of local governments to set their own direction…
Texas, where progressive, racially diverse big cities are increasingly at odds with the conservative state government, has been a particular preemption hotspot. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) pledged upon taking office in 2015 to use preemption laws to “limit the ability of cities to California-ize the great state of Texas.” Since then, the state has passed laws forbidding cities and counties from creating sanctuary city protections, and regulating oil and gas drilling. The latter measure invalidated a 2014 ballot initiative, the product of a grassroots campaign, that banned fracking in the city of Denton.
“The state legislature has essentially declared war on local democracy in Texas,” Mark Pertschuk, director of progressive advocacy group Grassroots Change, which has tracked the preemption trend, told TPM in a phone interview. “Folks that want a higher minimum wage, benefits like paid sick days and family leave, they have the ability to put together a very good opposition to preemption and can do it in a non-partisan way.”