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Tennessee’s preemption of local laws discourages civic engagement | Opinion

August 14, 2019

The Tennessean,

Brandon Thomas,

August 13, 2019-

You may not know what preemption is just from hearing the word, but you’ve probably heard a story about it happening to your city or one nearby. It might have even happened to a policy you supported, or even one you worked to help pass. In Tennessee, preemption has affected the issues of LGBTQ rights, community oversight of police, marijuana decriminalization and the ability of local communities to require employers to whom they give contracts to offer certain benefits to their employees.

Preemption is when a higher level of government reverses legislation passed by a lower level, such as states preempting cities. It can have tangible effects on the health, morale and financial well-being of everyday people. Imagine your employer wants to bid for a city contract. The contract is long-term and very lucrative, and the company would benefit quite a bit if they were chosen — and they believe they are very likely to receive the contract if they choose to bid it. However, your city recently passed legislation requiring companies that receive city contracts to offer a living wage to their employees.

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