The Man Who Fought Monsanto Will Leave a Lasting Legacy
Anna Lappe, Civil Eats, 8/13/2018
A San Francisco jury has ruled in the first court case against the chemical company Monsanto, finding that its signature products, glyphosate-based herbicides Roundup and Ranger Pro, are associated with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma—and that the company acted with malice and negligence in failing to warn consumers. They awarded the plaintiff, 46-year old Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, $39.2 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages.
This is a huge win for those who have been sounding the alarm about the dangers of these widely used herbicide products for years. This is also a huge hit to Monsanto: the majority of its $14.6 billion in annual sales come from herbicides containing glyphosate and seeds genetically engineered to withstand those herbicides. This is the first case to challenge the chemical behemoth (which was recently acquired by Bayer Chemical) about its weed-killers, but it won’t be the last: There are more than 4,000 other plaintiffs waiting in the wings.
John Oliver Confronts Fake Grassroots Movements on Last Week Tonight, Taking the Fight to ‘Astroturfers’
Astroturfing is not the latest teen craze, John Oliver explained on Sunday night’s episode of Last Week Tonight. While it sounds like something teens would do once they moved on from eating Tide Pods, astroturfing is when corporations or organization try to make it seem as though whatever they are selling is part of a grassroots movement. For example when a seeming small group calling themselves Americans Against Food Taxes run a national ad campaign against a potential beverage tax. It’s not paid for by a small grassroots movement of concerned citizens, but a large beverage conglomerate lobbying against a soda tax that could cut into their profits.
State Net Neutrality Regulations Are An Exercise In Futility
After the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed most of the agency’s net neutrality regulations late last year, advocates for heavy-handed internet regulation shifted their focus to state governments. According to the National Regulatory Research Institute, these advocates have convinced a majority of states to propose, and in some cases pass, legislation or an executive order that would enforce some or all of the defunct federal rules at the state level.
These efforts will be short-lived. State laws that defy the FCC’s net neutrality repeal will not survive challenge in federal court. Preemption is a slam dunk.
The Constitution’s Supremacy Clause gives Congress the power to preempt state law, and a federal agency acting within the scope of its congressionally delegated authority has the power to preempt state regulation. In its net neutrality repeal order, the FCC was acting within the scope of its delegated authority under the Communications Act when it expressly preempted any state or local requirements that are inconsistent with the deregulatory federal approach.
Fight over federal muni broadband bill highlights preemptions dangers
Tellus Venture Associates, 7/25/2018
Silicon Valley representative Anna Eschoo (D – Santa Clara) introduced a bill in January – house resolution 4818 – that would preempt state-level restrictions on municipal broadband. It was discussed – not formally considered, just discussed – during a general broadband hearing held by a house of representatives sub-committee on communications and technology.
According to a story in The Hill by Maya Lora, Eshoo defended her bill against an attack made by the chair of the committee, representative Marsha Blackburn (R – Tennessee). She claimed Eshoo’s bill would “undo much of the progress that is being made across the country”…
Although Eshoo’s bill would solve that problem as far as many municipal broadband advocates are concerned, federal preemption is the wrong approach. It’s a double edged sword and, with republicans wielding it, it’s likely to come down on muni broadband systems, rather than on state legislatures that restrict them. It’s best not to pull it out at all.
Regulating the Guns of the Future
And printed weapons would effectively skirt existing U.S. gun regulations: Some form of background check is required to buy one in most states, and all licensed guns sold in the U.S. must have serial numbers.
In 43 states, cities are prevented from passing local gun regulation by state preemption policies. But local leaders do have options. Columbia, South Carolina, banned bump stocks using a loophole in state policy, and Florida cities have sued their state for the right to tighten gun laws. “While a city is not going to be positioned to stop someone around the world or around the country from posting downloadable guns online, what they can do is prohibit anyone from making a handmade gun, or prohibit possession of a gun without a serial number,” said Skaggs. “They can obviously penalize or criminalize any kind of undetectable firearm.”
Trump administration and California are on collision course over vehicle emissions rules
The Trump administration on Aug. 2 formally announced a proposal to freeze fuel economy standards and tailpipe emission standards for new cars. In addition, it is proposing to revoke California’s authority to set more stringent rules.
This move by the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, while expected for months, is the most significant action yet in rolling back efforts by the Obama administration and California to cut greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. It also sets up an unprecedented legal battle between California and the federal government while breaking with decades of practice on regulating tailpipe pollution.
Will Trump Auto Rule End California’s Regulation of Fuel Economy?
Competitive Enterprise Institute, 8/1/2018
We know single-use plastics are bad. Why can’t we stop using them?
In a recent survey, Jill Bartolotta, an Extension Educator at Ohio Sea Grant, found that the most common thing that keeps people from using reusable alternatives to single-use plastic—like reusable water bottles and tote bags—is forgetting the reusable version at home…
That said, most recently enacted legislation in the US has had the opposite effect. Ten states, including Indiana, have pre-emption laws that ban the plastic bag bans and prevent local governments from regulating plastic bag use. [Emphasis added]
11th Cir. revives suit alleging Alabama’s minimum wage pre-emption is discriminatory
HR Dive, 8/6/2018
On appeal, the 11th Circuit reinstated part of the lawsuit. Because the city has the largest African-American population in the state, the court said the plaintiffs stated a plausible claim that the Minimum Wage Act had a disparate impact on Birmingham’s black citizens, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Additionally, the law may have been enacted with a discriminatory purpose, it said: the measure sped through the legislature, received no votes from black legislators and was signed just hours after landing on the governor’s desk. [Emphasis added]
In Battle Pitting Cities Vs. States Over Minimum Wage, Birmingham Scores A Win
FAST-FOOD WORKERS’ LANDMARK MINIMUM WAGE LAWSUIT REVIVED, CHARGES ALABAMA VIOLATED EQUAL PROTECTION LAWS IN BLOCKING INCREASE TO $10.10
Colorado ballot initiative could blunt local land-use rules, officials warn
The Gazette, 8/3/2018
Local officials and municipal attorneys say they are worried a proposed constitutional amendment backed by the Colorado Farm Bureau and the oil and gas industry will blunt ability of cities, towns and counties to make many land-use decisions…
It would enable property owners to seek compensation if a law or regulation reduces their land’s “fair market value.” Under current law, a government has to compensate only if a property is taken by eminent domain or its action leaves the land with no economic use.
Iowa residents band together to fight hog confinements
Des Moines Register, 7/30/2018
Some northern Iowa residents have banded together to fight what they call pollution of their water and air after several failed attempts to thwart the rise of hog confinements.
Note: Iowa preempts counties’ authority to “regulate conditions or activity on land used for the production, care, feeding, or housing of animals. Cities cannot pass local zoning ordinances related to farming.” Source: Grassroots Change Preemption Map
Michigan school districts may ban guns, state Supreme Court rules
News 8000, 7/28/2018
Michigan school districts can ban firearms on campus, the state’s Supreme Court ruled Friday.
State law allows people with concealed firearms permits to bring guns onto school property, but at least two districts enacted policies banning weapons…
The justices in the majority wrote that the Michigan Legislature can preempt school districts from enacting gun bans but has not done so. It cited a prior case that found the law “expressly preempts regulation of firearms by a city, village, township, or county; it does not apply to school districts.”
Open carry issue in schools may not be settled
Traverse City Record-Eagle, 8/2/2018
Questions remain after the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that two school districts have the right to ban guns from their schools…
Many saw the ruling as a green light for districts to pass their own similar legislation without fear of litigation. That likely is not the case, according to attorney and firearms law professor Steve Dulan.
Dulan, who also serves on the Michigan Coalition of Responsible Gun Owners board of directors, said the ruling failed to adequately address why the school boards’ policies did not fall under the umbrella of conflict preemption, which gives state policies precedence over those of smaller governing bodies. Determining whether the policies were conflict-preempted was “unnecessary,” according to the court’s written opinion.
“It was a missed opportunity to clarify the issue,” Dulan said. “It looks like schools are allowed to make policies, however, there’s an open question if those policies are in direct conflict state law — and that issue has yet to be re-litigated.”
Editorial: Court right to leave gun decision to school districts
The Detroit News, 7/31/2018
The Michigan Supreme Court ruled Friday that schools can ban guns on their property, upholding policies against open carry that Ann Arbor and Clio districts put in place as safety measures to prevent disruptions. This was a good call for upholding both the law and common sense.
Here’s what Missouri Influencers have to say about gun control and gun rights
The Kansas City Star, 7/30/2018
The Star asked the Missouri Influencer panel to respond to two questions about gun control and gun rights.
What’s the most important change that should be made in Missouri gun laws, and why?
Jolie Justus, Kansas City Council member: “If Missouri is not going to enact common sense gun regulations, it should remove the barriers that prevent local municipalities and counties from enacting their own regulations. Local control of gun laws should be allowed. For instance, cities should be able to enact gun free zones, to allow law enforcement to check for weapons.”
Behind the scenes, business groups question politics of paid sick leave
San Antonio Express-News, 8/4/2018
Advocates’ successful signature-gathering campaign means the City Council soon must decide whether to pass a sick leave ordinance or put the matter before voters. The fight ultimately could be decided in the state Capitol, where conservative lawmakers have vowed to enact legislation to bar local governments from requiring paid sick leave…
As for a counterattack by business-funded lobbies, they say they’re just getting started.
“It’s going to our board in August,” said Richard Perez, CEO of the San Antonio chamber. “But I’m certain that I’m standing on firm ground in that we don’t like the municipal government telling us what to do… We would love and are indeed going to be working toward a statewide legislation preempting municipalities from doing such things.”
TEXAS SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN PLASTIC BAG BAN
The Heartland Institute, 7/30/2018
The Texas Supreme Court struck down the City of Laredo’s ban on plastic bags, in a decision likely to overturn similar ordinances in nearly a dozen other Texas municipalities.
In a unanimous ruling on June 22, the state Supreme Court found local government laws preventing retailers from providing so-called single-use plastic bags to customers were clearly prohibited by state law.
State voters to decide whether to bar local soda taxes
KOMO News, 8/6/2018
Washington state voters will decide this November whether local governments should be barred from placing new taxes on soda or other grocery items…
If approved, the measure would prevent cities and counties from imposing their own taxes on sodas or other sweetened beverages. The measure does not prevent the state from doing so.
King County council members push safe storage gun regulation
Bothell-Kenmore Reporter, 7/26/2018
Several King County council members are pushing a legislative package of gun control measures that emphasize safe storage and informed firearm sales. But gun rights organizations are ready to take legal action if the laws pass…
The council members’ move comes at a time when the city of Seattle is gearing up to fend off a legal action from gun rights organizations over a similar safe gun storage ordinance that the city council passed in early July. On July 20, two organizations–the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) and the National Rifle Association (NRA)–filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court arguing that Seattle elected leaders violated the preemption statute, a state law that largely prevents local governments from passing gun regulations. Specifically, the statute asserts that the state “fully occupies and preempts the entire field of firearms regulation” including the registration, licensing, possession, purchase, sale, acquisition, and transfer of guns.
SAF, NRA Sue City Of Edmonds Over Wash. State Preemption Violation
Second Amendment Foundation, 8/7/2018
Letter to the editor: Safe storage requirement for firearms a ‘clear violation’ of state law
My Edmonds News, 7/30/2018
Tobacco Is Marketed More Heavily in Milwaukee’s Minority Neighborhoods, Study Finds
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 8/3/2018
Tobacco products in Milwaukee are more aggressively marketed in stores in African-American and Latino neighborhoods than in white ones, according to a study led by a public health researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee…
The study team also pointed to a state level policy, called preemption, that bars local governments from establishing regulations that are stricter than Wisconsin legislation on advertising, licensing and youth access. For example, the rule means Milwaukee couldn’t adopt a ban on menthol cigarettes, which have long been targeted at African American communities. Changing state law would give cities a better chance to protect their residents and promote health.