Combatting Preemption Training Overview

The Combatting Preemption Training is designed to educate local and state advocates on preemption and provide a practical guide to developing a strategy to successfully counter state and/or federal preemption. At the conclusion of the training, participants will be able to anticipate and recognize preemption, understand its impact, and develop a four-component strategy to focus resources and efforts effectively in combatting the threat of preemption.

Preemption Fact Sheet

Preemption occurs when higher levels of government (federal or state) eliminate or limit the authority of lower levels. Express preemption occurs when a law contains explicit preemptive language (a “preemption clause”). Implied preemption happens when a court finds that a law is preemptive even in the absence of preemptive language. To guarantee that a federal or state law is not preemptive, advocates must include a “savings clause” which preserves the authority of lower jurisdictions, e.g., “Nothing in this law preempts more restrictive local regulations or requirements.”

Preemption Myths & Facts (Grassroots Change, 2018)

“It is not up to the state to tell the people at the local level what to do… They’re just using this to mask what the bill is really about, which is about taking away home rule.”

– Mayor, Hernando, Mississippi

What the Institute of Medicine says about preemption

States and localities play a vital and historic role in safeguarding the public’s health and safety. They can be “laboratories” of innovation, with greater flexibility than at the national level. Consequently, unless there are compelling reasons to the contrary, the federal government ought not preempt state and local authority in advancing the public’s health…

Checklist: An evidence-based framework for decision makers

Make sure to identify the supporters of preemption to understand why they want to eliminate state or local authority. Because preemption can be unpopular, its proponents may work behind the scenes. Be prepared to “shine a light” on the industry lobbyists who are the most common supporters of preemption.

What the experts say about preemption

“[Preemption] slows or even ends grassroots movements, often before they begin. I think it also drains a lot of our resources for future advocacy efforts. We leave it to the next generation of public health advocates to undo policy compromises that we make today.”

– Jill Birnbaum, Vice President, State Advocacy & Public Health, American Heart Association