The West Coast soda wars threaten to engulf the nation
A new frontier in the soda tax war is emerging along the west coast. Industry-funded committees have drawn up ballot measures to preempt voters’ local soda tax initiatives in California, Oregon, and Washington state…
The name of the game is preemption: banning, with a piece of legislation at the state level, cities and counties from democratically enacting soda taxes. The technique was wielded as a weapon by Big Tobacco in the ’80s and ’90s to stop communities from regulating their deadly product by creating smoke-free workplaces. Now 12 states ban smoke-free ordinances and experts say preemption itself is the public health threat.
In a June 2017 article in the American Journal of Public Health, Jennifer Pomeranz of New York University’s College of Global Public Health and Mark Pertschuk of Grassroots Change in Oakland, California called preemption “a significant and quiet threat to public health in the United States” because it leaves municipalities “increasingly unable to address acute public health issues that will have lasting consequences for the health of communities…”
Industry efforts in these west-coast states are a “fantastic assault on local democracy, but also on the ability of cities and counties to function,” Pertschuk said. Pertschuk added that California’s initiative in particular “would be so devastating to communities, so far beyond soda taxes, it really would starve communities.” [Emphasis added]
Iowa part of national trend placing limits on local control
The State, 6/24/2018
Traffic cameras, plastic shopping bags, minimum paid time off regulations and county election maps are among other areas targeted by efforts that resulted in a loss of local control since Republicans took over state government…
Mark Pertschuk, director of the California-based nonprofit Grassroots Change, which tracks pre-emption legislation nationally, said Iowa’s practices put it in the “middle of the pack.” In the past, national reports on pre-emption showed Iowa left more issues to local officials.
Pertschuk argued pre-emption laws hurt local political engagement.
“It creates this cynicism and disengagement that really, really erodes democracy in a very dangerous way,” he said. [Emphasis Added]
CONGRESS SHOULD REJECT PESTICIDE-LADEN FARM BILL
U.S. PIRG, 6/21/2018
This afternoon, a Farm Bill (H.R. 2) loaded with anti-health provisions is back for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives. The House previously rejected H.R. 2 by a vote of 198 to 213. Today, Congress again considers a dirty Farm Bill that would undermine protections for clean water, sustainable farming, and our health. More specifically, H.R. 2 would…
- Pre-empt state and local laws aimed at health and environmental impacts of factory farms.
Senate Farm Bill: Some Progress?
Food and Water Watch, 6/15/2018
The Senate Agriculture Committee passed its version of the Farm Bill this week, avoiding most of the horrible parts of the House version of the bill…
- Preemption – Unlike the House bill, the Senate bill does not include a measure that would prohibit state and local governments from setting standards on the production of agriculture products that are imported into the state if the standards exceed federal law (the King amendment.) [Emphasis added]
How Cities Can Respond When the State Legislature Says ‘No’
Route Fifty, 6/12/2018
From defiance to exploiting legal loopholes, municipalities are trying everything to get around state preemption laws and maintain local authority.
Commercial Waste Zones and Other Creative Solutions to Vehicle Emissions
New York Law Journal, 6/20/2018
States and cities are striving to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in an era when the federal government is moving in the opposite direction. They can take some comfort in the fact that many sources of emissions—electricity generators, heating and cooling systems in buildings, and other stationary sources—remain within state and local control. Not so with vehicles, which account for 23 percent of GHG emissions in New York City. Federal law pre-empts direct state and local regulation of mobile source or “tailpipe” emissions and now the EPA has proposed a substantial rollback of fuel efficiency and emission standards for passenger vehicles. [Emphasis added]
Shame on California lawmakers for caving in to the soda industry
L.A. Times, 6/27/2018
Soda makers clearly fear that the next big threats to their bottom lines are efforts to curb disposable packaging like soda bottles. There’s growing alarm about the profusion of plastic trash in the ocean as the global market for recycled plastic is collapsing. Recycling fees and taxes could be powerful tools to reduce the proliferation of disposable plastic. A preemptive strike to take these tools off the table for 12 years in order to protect the industry’s profits is not just unfair, it’s unconscionable.
We would like to call out the elected officials responsible for this noxious deal, but we don’t know who they are. The compromise was hammered out in secret and then placed inside a budget bill that could be passed as soon as Thursday, thus shamelessly bypassing the normal lawmaking process. If it weren’t for a government transparency ballot measure in 2016 (which the Legislature vociferously opposed, by the way) that required the final text of bills to be made public at least three days before a vote, this deal might have been done before anyone realized what had happened.
We do know that no deal like this gets far without the backing of the leadership of the two houses of the Legislature, in this case Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins (D-San Diego). We also know that Gov. Jerry Brown dined privately with beverage lobbyists a few weeks ago. Shame on them if they give in to this ballot extortion to subvert local governments’ taxing power for years to come. [Emphasis added]
California Banning Soda Taxes? A New Industry Strategy Is Stunning Some Lawmakers
The New York Times, 6/27/2018
For years, the soda industry had an ironclad strategy when a city wanted to enact a soda tax: Spend a lot of money, rally local businesses, and shoot it down.
That strategy worked again and again, until it didn’t. In 2014, Berkeley, Calif., passed the nation’s first tax on sugary drinks, which have been linked to heart disease, obesity and tooth decay. Two years later, six communities, including three more cities in California, enacted similar bills.
Now the beverage industry has a new approach. Instead of fighting the ordinances city by city, it is turning to states, trying to pass laws preventing any local governments from taxing their products.
Business-Labor Deal Would Ban California Cities, Counties From Enacting New Soda Taxes
Capital Public Radio, 6/26/2018
Big Soda’s sweet deal to ban soda taxes is a California shakedown
The Sacramento Bee, 6/25/2018
Health and justice nonprofits oppose sweetheart deal American Beverage Association seeks from California
American Heart Association, 6/26/2018
Today, more than 20 health and justice nonprofits banded together to oppose a bill the American Beverage Association seeks in California that would protect sugary drinks from local taxes. The group, led by the American Heart Association, includes American Cancer Society—Cancer Action Network, American Diabetes Association, Berkeley Media Studies Group, CA4Health, California Dental Association, California Health Advocates, California Health Collaborative, California Hepatitis C Task Force, California Project LEAN, California School-Based Health Alliance, Center for Science in the Public Interest, ChangeLab Solutions, Cultiva La Salud, Healthy Food America, Latino Coalition for a Healthy California, MomsRising/MamasConPoder, National Alliance for Hispanic Health, Prevention Institute, Public Health Advocates, Public Health Institute, Roots of Change and The Praxis Project.
Local soda taxes would be banned in California under developing deal
The Sacramento Bee, 6/24/2018
California would ban its cities and counties from creating taxes on soda and other sugary drinks for more than a decade if the Legislature approves a budget trailer bill introduced Sunday.
The language, which is still being finalized, is part of a developing deal between organized labor and business groups to remove from the November ballot a proposed measure that would make it harder to raise state and local taxes. Senate Bill 872 prohibits new local taxes on “groceries,” such as “carbonated and non-carbonated nonalcoholic beverages,” through the end of 2030, including any that may pass this year.
SB-872 will be heard by the Committee this Thursday, June 25, 2018.
We’ve seen some cynical moves to protect profits, but this soda tax ban is a new low
The Sacramento Bee, 6/26/2018
As the CEO of the American Heart Association, I’ve seen my fair share of industry efforts to oppose health initiatives and protect their profits.
California Senate Bill 872 is one of the worst…
This bill – introduced at the eleventh hour, written by the beverage industry and its allies – would be a significant blow to this state’s health and economic vitality. It would expose the beverage industry’s false claims that they care about local communities; the truth is, they think nothing of stripping away the right of those communities to decide for themselves how to best address local health concerns.
St. Pete City Council committee favors voluntary plastic straw reduction over ban
88.5 WMNF, 6/14/2018
Next month, St. Pete City Council will consider an ordinance to comprehensively look at how the city deals with all kinds of disposable plastics: from straws, to bags and polystyrene containers. In a committee today the focus was entirely on plastic straws: should there be a ban – as requested by environmentalists – or a voluntary reduction program, favored by business groups? On Thursday city council decided to take the ban off the table, for now at least. But there was talk about considering a complete ban in the future.
Council member Darden Rice said one reason to consider an outright ban is because of the Florida Legislature’s history of passing pre-emptive laws to forbid local governments from making local rules that are stricter than state rules.
Deerfield, Illinois, gun confiscation law is blocked by state court
Court Grants Injunction In SAF Challenge Of Deerfield, IL Gun Ban
PR Newswire, 6/12/2018
A circuit court judge in Lake County, Illinois has granted an injunction against the Chicago suburb of Deerfield, blocking the village from enforcing a ban on so-called “assault weapons,” and handing a victory to the Second Amendment Foundation.
SAF was joined in the lawsuit by the Illinois State Rifle Association and Deerfield resident Daniel Easterday, who is a lawful firearms owner. SAF and ISRA had challenged the ban on the grounds that it violates the state’s preemption law that was adopted in 2013…”
Editorial: Local control threatened
The Daily Nonpareil, 6/25/2018
Iowa is clearly not alone in passing what have been termed pre-emption laws. The AP reported that a study by the National League of Cities completed earlier this year concluded state legislatures across the U.S. have become more “aggressive” in restricting local control…
Mark Pertschuk, director of the California-based nonprofit Grassroots Change, a group that tracks pre-emption legislation nationally, argues that pre-emption laws hurt local political engagement by fostering disengagement of those who feel they have lost their voice in government.
Rep. Art Staed, the ranking Democrat on the Iowa House Local Government Committee, said Republicans are “emboldened” by their control of state government and have adopted a “do what you want” attitude in matters of governance.
“I think divided government was a good thing at preventing that,” Staed said.
GROUPS FILE IN SUPPORT OF MARYLAND PESTICIDE RESTRICTIONS
U.S. PIRG, 6/22/2018
Ten organizations filed an Amicus brief this week in support of a 2015 landmark Montgomery County, Maryland ordinance that restricts the use of toxic pesticides on public and private land within its jurisdiction…
The plaintiffs in the case, which include the pesticide industry group Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment(RISE),local chemical lawn care companies, and a few individuals, allege that the local ordinance is preempted by state law, despite the fact that Maryland is one of seven states that has not explicitly taken away (or preempted) local authority to restrict pesticides more stringently than the state.
Piscataway Township Council approves gun ordinance banning sales
My Central Jersey, 6/15/2018
Despite a threat of future legal action, the Township Council passed a unique gun ordinance.
Considered by township officials to be the first of its kind in the state, the ordinance, which bans the retail sale of guns and ammunition within 1,000 feet of schools, day care sites, college campuses, medical facilities, bars, parks, places of worship and similar sites, was unanimously approved at Thursday night’s council meeting…
In a June 14 letter sent to township attorney Michael Baker, Daniel L. Schmutter, an attorney with the Ridgewood-based firm of Hartman & Winnicki, which represents the Association of New Jersey Rifle & Pistol Clubs (ANJRPC), said “it has come to our attention that the Piscataway Township Council will be hearing a proposed zoning ordinance tonight which will have the effect of regulating, severely restricting and/or effectively prohibiting the sale of firearms with the township…”
[T]he letter said “there is a clear preemption of such local action under the state’s comprehensive firearms regulatory scheme.” [Emphasis added]
Judge suspends enforcement of Ohio city’s bump stock ban
Judge David Cain in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas on Friday issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting Columbus from enforcing their bump stock ban pending a July 9 hearing on a lawsuit brought against the city. Two Second Amendment organizations, Buckeye Firearms Foundation and Ohioans for Concealed Carry, filed the challenge on Thursday, citing that state preemption law prevents the city from regulating firearms.
Gun Advocates Sue Cincinnati and Columbus
Courthouse News Service, 6/22/2018
Gun-rights groups sue to block Columbus regulations
The Columbus Dispatch, 6/21/2018
Ohioans for Concealed Carry and the Buckeye Firearms Foundation have sued the city of Columbus over gun regulations the city adopted in May.
The lawsuit filed Thursday in Franklin County Common Pleas Court alleges that the city violated state pre-emption laws when it banned bump stocks and made carrying a gun while under disability a misdemeanor.
Grocery Tax Ban on Oregon Ballots Would Block a Soda Tax in Multnomah County
Willamette Week, 6/19/2018
Proposal to ban food taxes in Oregon qualifies for the November ballot
The Oregonian, 6/18/2018
Voters will get to weigh in this November on an initiative that would ban all taxes on food in Oregon, after it qualified for the ballot on Monday.
The signature gathering effort was largely paid for by grocery companies, which had poured more than $2 million into the campaign as of a month ago.
New PA budget strips Philadelphia of power to regulate cigarette sales
City & State Pennsylvania, 6/26/2018
Even as some Pennsylvania legislators head out the door for their summer recess, the impacts of a speedily passed $32.7 billion state budget are just beginning to be fully understood. To wit: One small amendment slipped into the voluminous state fiscal code effectively stripped Philadelphia of its power to pass additional regulations on tobacco sales.
The move comes just as City Council was gearing up for a renewed push to curb sales of nicotine products as a health initiative. The rub, according to Capitol Republicans who pushed for the recent amendment, is that the city is also dependent on the sale of cigarettes and similar products for school funding.
Ban on plastic bags and foam containers has Mount Pleasant businesses seeking alternatives
The Post and Courier, 6/14/2018
Several smaller coastal towns in South Carolina, including Isle of Palms and Folly Beach, had already blazed a trail, with bans on the distribution of single-use plastic bags. But Mount Pleasant is an affluent suburban town with nearly 87,000 residents — a potential game-changer because so many businesses will need to comply with the rules…
Packaging industry groups and conservative legislative policy advocates, including the American Legislative Exchange Council, have supported statewide pre-emption legislation, banning local governments from approving local bans. A spokesperson for Publix Super Markets said complying with different local regulations can be difficult.
Texas Supreme Court Just Tossed Bag Bans. What’s Next?
Dallas Observer, 6/25/2018
In this case, at least, Dallas pulled its hand back before it got slapped. On Friday, the Texas Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a state law regarding the disposal of solid waste preempted Laredo’s plastic bag ban. Similar bans in about a dozen other Texas cities are now effectively dead.
In a Blow to Local Government, Texas Supreme Court Strikes Down Plastic Bag Ordinances
The Texas Observer, 6/22/2018
TEXAS SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN LAREDO PLASTIC BAG BAN
Texas Standard, 6/22/2018
In a case out of Laredo, the border city’s ban on single use plastic bags was rejected in a unanimous decision from the Texas Supreme Court…
The argument has been made in places like Port Aransas, Austin and Fort Stockton that there are serious concerns about the impact of plastic bags on the environment. In beach communities, their livelihoods may even be affected if beaches are littered with white plastic bags. The court did acknowledge the importance of these issues, but ultimately decided that state law preempts local laws on this matter. [Emphasis added]
‘Freedom city’? Going beyond ‘sanctuary,’ Austin, Texas, vows to curtail arrests
L.A. Times, 6/19/2018
Ever since the Texas legislature last year passed one of the country’s most aggressive “anti-sanctuary city” laws, some enclaves have fought officials over the extent to which police can ignore federal immigration law…
Amid the controversy over sanctuary cities, Austin this month took its fight against strict immigration law enforcement a step further by declaring itself to be the first “freedom city” in Texas. City Council members unanimously passed two resolutions last week that will restrict police attempts to question immigrants about their status and curtail arrests for nonviolent crimes.
Here’s what’s wrong with Texas Supreme Court’s decision not to let cities ban plastic bags
Caller Times, 6/22/2018
Republicans vying for state Senate seat emphasize transportation issues and local control
Park Record, 6/13/2018
When it comes to local control, Gorum and Winterton, who aren’t from Park City, said they would support the city’s right to govern itself. The issue has been a focus of Parkites after a recent, unsuccessful legislative push to prohibit cities from imposing bans on plastic bags (Park City has the only such ban in the state).
Official: Clallam can’t change legal age for tobacco, vaping
Peninsula Daily News, 6/21/2018
Clallam County and cities within its borders may want to but can’t increase the state-mandated smoking and vaping legal age from 18 to 21, David Alvarez, county chief civil deputy prosecuting attorney, told the Board of Health on Tuesday…
Alvarez cited the Revised Code of Washington, which “pre-empts political subdivisions from adopting or enforcing requirements for the licensure and regulation of” vapor and tobacco product promotions and sales at retail stores. [Emphasis added]