In August 2018, Grassroots Change and the College of Global Public Health at New York University completed six new and updated tools for understanding, tracking, and countering preemption. All of these tools can be found on Grassroots Change’s Preemption Watch Tools page.
The new tools can be accessed individually here:
NEW Tool: Savings Clause: Express Protection Against Preemption
NEW Tool: Combatting Preemption: Myths and Facts
NEW Tool: Preemption Fact Sheet
Combatting Preemption Training Overview
Preemption Watch: Selected References and Resources
What the Institute of Medicine says about preemption
The Human Costs of Preemption
At Grassroots Change, we are often asked about the negative impact or “human costs” of state and federal preemption for individual people and communities. This is more challenging than it may sound. Preemption is not a policy with obvious consequences, such as a state law allowing the open carrying of assault weapons on a college campus or a weak state law allowing smoking at a concert.
Preemption results not in the passage of weak laws but the absence of strong local or state laws that save lives and prevent injuries. In this special issue of the Preemption Watch News, we share a few recent stories that document the tragic human consequences of federal and state preemption.
Nutrition & community development
On Sunday, June 24, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown and the leadership of the California Senate and Assembly quietly introduced an amendment to the pending state budget bill to preempt new local soda taxes in California for 12 years. The Governor and legislative leaders agreed to the deal in secret over the weeks before it was introduced and made public. The Service Employees International Union; American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; and Soda Industry promoted the preemption “budget rider” as part of a deal with the American Beverage Association to abandon a threatened November 2018 initiative that would have broadly limited local taxation authority had it passed.
In the four days between introduction and passage, Governor Brown’s dirty deal was aggressively opposed by the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and many other public health groups. But the most dramatic and damning testimony came from dozens of committed youth activists from Stockton, California. The young students had been working for more than a year on a soda tax initiative in Stockton similar to successful local initiatives in Berkeley, Oakland, and other communities.
The young people from Stockton provided deeply personal testimony opposing Governor Jerry Brown’s preemption deal. The two short video clips below, taken from the official Assembly video of the hearing, provide just a portion of the moving testimony.
I’ve learned that there’s so much hope in the community. People want to change; they want to be better. They just don’t know how. The American Beverage Association is taking away our right to [offer solutions and] the creativity from young people like me who want to make a change in their communities. They’re taking away not only our voices but our right to vote. I ask you to please stand with us, the community members. People’s health is way more important than corporate wealth.[Emphasis added]
California Assembly Budget Committee, Thursday, June 28th, 2018
California’s soda tax ban stalled a grassroots movement, but didn’t kill it
It is impossible to know how many communities might have passed local soda taxes. But in at least one community — Stockton — the legislative deal brought organizing for a tax to a sudden halt, along with the hopes of young people like Ashley Vazquez, a 20-year-old college student…
Now she says she feels “betrayed” by the deal in Sacramento that bans such a measure. “We were getting so much excitement from the community and I really thought it was something that could go through. Then it just stopped.”
The fallout is also being felt in Richmond, where soda taxes figured prominently in a two-step plan to significantly increase revenue for youth programs.
The N.R.A. Lobbyist Behind Florida’s Pro-Gun Policies
Mike Spies, The New Yorker, March 5, 2018
Jared Moskowitz, a Democratic member of the Florida House of Representatives, was debating tax policy on the chamber floor, in Tallahassee… when he received a call from his wife, Leah. He was surprised to hear her crying. She was trying to pick up their four-year-old son, Sam, who attends a preschool in Moskowitz’s district… Leah had seen a number of police officers outside the building. Moskowitz called the local sheriff’s office and learned that the preschool was on lock-down, because there was an active shooter at the nearby Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School…
Two days later, I joined Moskowitz on Coral Springs Drive, which runs alongside Douglas…
Moskowitz shook hands with Dan Daley, a young city commissioner in Coral Springs. “I was talking to one of the Douglas students,” Daley said. “His only words to me were ‘Do something.’ I had to tell him that I legally can’t do anything, because the governor could take away my job if I tried.”
Moskowitz turned to me. “That’s the legacy of Marion Hammer,” he said.
Hammer is the National Rifle Association’s Florida lobbyist… Daley was referring to a law that Hammer worked to enact in 2011, during Governor Rick Scott’s first year in office. The statute punishes local officials who attempt to establish gun regulations stricter than those imposed at the state level. Officials can be fined thousands of dollars and removed from office.
Toxic chemicals & food policy
The Man Who Fought Monsanto Will Leave a Lasting Legacy
By ANNA LAPPÉ, August 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.
Note: Preemption is a major and growing concern in two related issues impacting toxic chemical regulation: Federal preemption of both toxic chemical safety and GMO labeling, and state preemption of the regulation of GMO seeds. Because many genetically engineered crops were developed to withstand exposure to glyphosate, and marketed as “Roundup ready,” the regulation of glyphosate based herbicides and GMOs are intertwined. In 2016, Congress expanded the authority of the EPA to preempt stronger state and local toxic chemical laws, and adopted a bill preempting state labeling rules for GMO crops and products. Since California and other states have adopted stronger toxic chemical rules than Congress or the EPA, this means that state and local elected officials could be severely limited in what they can do protect the public. In addition, many states have passed or considered state preemption of local GMO seed ordinances.