California banned new soda taxes. Could it happen in Pennsylvania?
The Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/10/2018
California cities and towns are now banned from enacting taxes on soda — thanks to a new state law.
A similar bill that would eliminate Philadelphia’s tax on soda and other sweetened beverages is pending in the Pennsylvania House. But it’s less likely to become a reality. Legislators have taken no action on it since the bill passed out of committee in May.
“With the limited number of days left in session, I do not feel there is a realistic shot to move the bill,” its primary sponsor, Rep. Mark Mustio (R., Allegheny), said in a statement Wednesday.
Even if it doesn’t pass, the proposed bill, the California law, and similar measures under consideration in other states show that the beverage industry is taking its fight against soda taxes to state governments. Success in statehouses across the country would allow the beverage industry to prevent or repeal taxes on soda rather than lobbying local governments in every town where leaders consider passing one. [Emphasis added]
BREAKING: 11th Circ. Revives NAACP Suit Over Bias In Ala. Wage Law
The Eleventh Circuit on Wednesday revived an NAACP suit challenging an Alabama law that nullified a minimum wage hike adopted by the city of Birmingham, saying the circumstances of the law’s passage support a finding that the state legislature was biased against the city’s black majority.
Marnika Lewis, et al v. Governor of Alabama, et al
US Court of Appeals for the 11th Cir., 7/25/2018
The plaintiffs have stated a plausible claim that the Minimum Wage Act had the purpose and effect of depriving Birmingham’s black citizens equal economic opportunities on the basis of race, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
State ‘Soda Tax’ Ban Leaves Richmond Program For Youth At Risk
Richmond Pulse, 7/23/2018
While a diverse group of community organizers in Richmond were gathering signatures in support of a citywide soda tax for the November ballot, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law banning cities and counties across the state from taxing any groceries including sugary beverages for the next 12 years.
Just weeks before the state ban, Richmond voters passed Measure E, the “Richmond Kids First initiative” and its amendments detailed in Measure K, to create a new city Department for Children and Youth Services. But, the department is dependent on a new revenue stream, which just went dry with the governor’s signature.
The plan was a one-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, excluding baby formula, milk, agua frescas, and nutritional supplements. The tax would be nearly identical to those passed by other Bay Area cities, including Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco…
The state legislature was faced with a difficult decision. A ballot measure funded by the American Beverage Association—the Tax Fairness, Transparency and Accountability Act of 2018—was slated for the November election. If approved, it would have changed the requirement for cities and municipalities to pass any local sales tax increases from a simple majority to a two-thirds, super majority…
The timing was especially hard for Kids First supporters who had spent months collecting thousands of signatures in support of the tax.
“We’re like a week away from submitting,” Ebrahimi said.
Now, Kids First Richmond is searching for a new fund source — at least until 2031 when the ban ends.
California’s Ban on Soda Taxes Should Not Stand
Bloomberg News, 7/23/2018
The soda industry’s aversion to taxes on sugary drinks is further proof they work. The American Beverage Association blatantly coerced the California state legislature to pass its local-tax ban last month… The legislature quickly passed the 12-year soda-tax ban in return for the soda association’s agreeing to withdraw the initiative…
Unfortunately, California is not the only state to bar local sugar taxes. Following the lead of the tobacco industry, which encouraged state preemption of local tobacco taxes and smoke-free policies, the beverage industry is prodding many states to outlaw city soda taxes. Arizona and Michigan have already done so; efforts in Washington, Oregon and Pennsylvania are underway. Public health advocates in these states must fight back, too, and preserve local authority to protect their citizens from the life-shortening consequences of too much added sugar… [Emphasis added]
Inside New NRA-Backed Attempt to Kill Boulder’s Assault Weapons Ban
Jon Caldara’s federal lawsuit against Boulder’s assault-weapons ban isn’t the only attempt to shoot down the ordinance. A fresh complaint filed by the Colorado State Shooting Association, among others, and backed by the National Rifle Association takes aim at state court in an attempt to double the prospects of the ordinance being killed…
Westfall adds the following explanation: “The Colorado General Assembly identifies firearms issues as matters of statewide concern. So when there were questions about local jurisdictions having conflicting gun laws, they weighed in and created a very comprehensive preemption statute that basically bans local jurisdictions from engaging in this kind of piecemeal regulation of firearms.”
Florida Carry suing the City of Gainesville
A non-profit organization called Florida Carry is suing the city of Gainesville because of specified “No gun zones” during the Richard Spencer event last year.
Eric Friday is Florida Carry’s lawyer, he explained: “State law is very clear, the constitution is clear and the first ECA has affirmed cities do not have the right to regulate firearms or where you can possess firearms in the state of Florida. The city flat out cannot make rules and regulations regarding weapons or firearms.”
State urges dismissal of challenge to gun law
Panama City News Herald, 7/12/2018
Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office this week urged a circuit judge to dismiss a challenge to a law that imposes strict penalties on local governments and officials who violate a restriction on regulating guns and ammunition.
Numerous local governments and officials are plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed in April in Leon County circuit court. The case is rooted in a decades-old law that gives the state power to regulate firearms and ammunition and “preempts” the ability of local governments to approve such regulations.
In 2011, the Legislature approved stiff penalties for local governments and officials who violate the state preemption law, including potential removal from office and fines. The municipalities allege in the lawsuit that the penalties are unconstitutional.
Hawaii Health Measure Includes Last-Minute Provision Benefiting Big Tobacco; Legislature Should Revisit Measure and Repair the Damage
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, PR Newswire, 7/13/2018
House Bill 1895, an otherwise well-meaning and worthy bill to fund needed kidney dialysis centers in the state, contains a last-minute provision, snuck into the bill behind closed doors by special interests without public discussion or review, that will greatly harm public health and help the tobacco industry. This provision would block (preempt) county governments in Hawaii from passing their own laws to reduce tobacco use, including measures addressing the sale of candy-flavored tobacco products and menthol cigarettes that attract kids.
The Village of Franklin Park has become the third and latest community in the state of Illinois to pass a resolution urging the state legislature to repeal its preemption statute, which prevents localities from passing laws that are stricter than the state’s pesticide law. The victory in Franklin Park comes after the Village of Oak Park and town of Evanston, IL both passed their own preemption repeal resolutions in February 2017. Advocates who pushed for these resolutions, including regional groups Go Green Oak Park and Midwest Pesticide Action Center (MPAC), are hoping Franklin Park’s move is a sign of more local action to come on this critical democratic principle. Meanwhile, Congress is considering a provision in the Farm Bill that will prohibit, or preempt, local municipalities from restricting pesticides in their jurisdictions.
Judge scraps city’s ban on bump stocks as ‘untenable’
A[n] Ohio judge last week rejected a prohibition adopted by the city of Columbus on bump fire stocks, hitting city officials with a permanent injunction against enforcing the ordinance. Judge David Cain, writing for the Franklin County Common Pleas Court, found that the city’s ban did not square against state preemption law which prevents local governments from regulating firearms.
Essex County Freeholder, environmental lawyer and 25-year South Orange resident Janine Bauer sees the potential New Jersey Bag Tax as an assault on municipal lawmakers. Bill A3267 would impose a 5-cent fee on single-use bags in chains or any store with retail space exceeding 2,000 square feet. It would also preempt New Jersey towns from enacting their own carryout bag legislation, Bauer said, meaning South Orange could not implement local single-use bag ordinances.
“It’s a very anti-democratic thing to do, to pass a law and say, ‘By the way, nobody else can try to have a better idea,’” Bauer said…
“Generally, we’re not the kind of state that discourages municipalities from experimenting with their own legislation,” Bauer said. “New Jersey municipalities are quite powerful on their prerogatives…that aspect of the bill was particularly irksome to me.” [Emphasis added]
Statewide bag fee shouldn’t override local measures
Daily Record, 7/18/2018
Local governments are now the ultimate laboratory of democracy, advancing innovative and timely policies, specifically tailored to local circumstances and in response to local taxpayers. Unfortunately, such innovation sometimes causes special interests to go to the State Legislators and push back against such efforts, what we call state preemption…
We appreciate and understand objections to the implementation of a fee, even if it is for a laudable public policy objective. But the greater concern should be the preemption of local initiatives in favor of a statewide, one-size-fits-all approach. Local elected officials, who live in their own communities and are accountable to their voters, must be able to act in the community’s best interest without preemption from the state.
Philly’s soda tax is legal, PA Supreme Court says, but Harrisburg could still kill it
Billy Penn, 7/18/2018
Philadelphia’s soda tax will live to fight another day, but the war may not be over.
After a court battle that started right after the law passed in 2016, and continued through multiple appeals, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in favor of the city Wednesday morning…
Harrisburg can — and may — prohibit Philadelphia and other municipalities from passing soda taxes. The legislation, introduced by an Allegheny County Republican, was due for second consideration before House lawmakers recessed for the summer in June.
We’re smoking mad that Harrisburg won’t let Philly govern
The Philadelphia Inquirer, 7/11/2018
Have Philadelphia and state government ever not been at odds? On the one hand, the state, embodied by both its lawmakers and residents, tends to think of Philadelphia as the place that all the tax money collected in Pennsylvania goes to take care of a crumbling education system and lots of poor people. Meanwhile, the metro area’s contribution to the state’s General Fund far exceeds its share of the population…Then there are the state’s attempts to preempt Philadelphia from enacting a wage equity bill that passed City Council, regulation of certain gun sales, a living wage, and now this: The state has preempted the city’s right to enact new regulations on tobacco sales.
Paid Sick Leave Shaping Up as Local Control Fight at Texas Legislature
Texas GOP Vote, 7/12/2018
Well ahead of the next regular session of the Texas Legislature, starting in January, the issue of whether cities can require private employers to provide paid sick leave is shaping up as a potentially major debate for lawmakers in 2019.
Texas usually fights Austin at the Capitol. Lately, the fight is in the courtroom.
Austin Monitor, 7/12/2018
Recently, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton stepped into a dispute over the makeup of the city’s Planning Commission. A week ago, the city of Austin announced it would no longer enforce its ban on single-use plastic bags after the Texas Supreme Court overturned a similar law in Laredo. In April, Paxton joined a lawsuit brought by business groups against Austin’s new paid sick leave rules…
Texas Municipal League Executive Director Bennett Sandlin said he has also noticed a trend of the city-state fight entering the courtroom – but he sees it as simply as spillover from the Legislature…
Research suggests, at the very least, that state lawmakers are overriding local laws more often.
Texas Attorney General to City: ‘Reject the Proposed Paid Sick Leave Ordinance’
The Rivard Project, 7/3/2018
In a Monday letter sent to Mayor Ron Nirenberg and City Council, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said a proposed paid sick leave ordinance in San Antonio would “conflict directly” with State law…
Paxton’s letter comes on the heels of a local push to get a paid sick leave ordinance on the municipal ballot in the November election. A coalition of advocates in late May submitted more than 144,000 petition signatures – more than double the requisite 69,950 – for verification to the City attorney.
Texas looks small and mean if it kills local efforts to require paid sick time for all workers
The Dallas Morning News, 7/13/2018
Richmond is gagging progressive local governments
The Washington Post, 7/13/2018
The gulf between the policies enacted by a predominantly rural, conservative Republican statehouse in Richmond and those supported by progressive Democratic urban centers is wide. Republican legislators have proved themselves quite adept at exploiting two powerful tools to maintain or broaden that gulf: state preemption of local laws and the strict construction of the Dillon Rule, the principle that localities have only those powers granted by the state.
Initiative process hijacked by sugar-water companies
The Spokesman-Review, 7/15/2018
This year, four enormous sugar-water companies – the makers of Coke, Pepsi, Dr Pepper and Red Bull – have spent almost $5 million to prohibitively outlaw any future local taxes within the state that would apply to their products. Washington Food Industry Association chipped in $20,000. No one else has contributed a dime. A lot of those millions have been paid to signature gatherers.
Ballot measure would ban local taxes on groceries and soda
Soda companies have poured $4.7 million into an anti-tax measure in Washington state, enough for the initiative to pop up on the November ballot.
The campaign, which calls itself YES! TO AFFORDABLE GROCERIES, reported turning in more than 360,000 signatures by the July 6 deadline, a big gulp more than the 259,622 needed to qualify for a statewide initiative.
Almost all the campaign’s funding has come from four out-of-state beverage companies: the Coca-Cola Company, Pepsico, Dr Pepper Snapple Group and Red Bull North America.
NRA sues Seattle over ‘safe storage’ gun legislation
The Hill, 7/22/2018
Pro-Gun Groups Sue Seattle Over Safe Storage Law
The Stranger, 7/20/2018
State law bars local governments from regulating the “registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, transfer, discharge, and transportation of firearms, or any other element relating to firearms or parts thereof, including ammunition and reloader components.” Known as preemption, such laws are backed by the NRA and other groups.
Looking to Skirt State Preemption, Seattle Passes Gun Storage Bill
Seattle will require gun owners to lock up their firearms and fine those who don’t comply under legislation passed by City Council last week. Beyond the monetary penalties, the new law will allow local courts to build negligence cases, which has become nearly impossible in many states under constitutional carry laws.
State’s no-soda-tax initiative sets ‘bad precedent’
My Northwest, 7/12/2018
Not about affordable groceries
The Spokesman-Review, 7/17/2018
Why would Coca Cola, Pepsi and Red Bull contribute a combined nearly $3,000,000 to fund deceptive ads in support of Initiative 1634? Hint: it’s not about “affordable groceries.” It’s not even about affordable sugary drinks.
I-1634 would prevent local governments from imposing a tax on sugary drinks…The initiative eliminates the power of local government, and local voters, to make that choice.