March 30, 2015 - Preemption Watch News

New and Noted

Sometimes at Grassroots Change we think we’ve seen it all when it comes to preemption. But this week’s edition of Preemption Watch proves us wrong again.

First off, Indiana Governor Mike Pence quietly signed legislation that could preempt local civil rights laws and allow businesses to turn away gay and lesbian customers in the name of "religious freedom." If that sounds too crazy to be true, read about the horrified reaction of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) (which is located in Indianapolis) below under “Indiana”.

‘Indiana doesn't currently have a law on the books protecting Hoosiers from discrimination based on sexual orientation. But a dozen counties do -- and opponents of the "religious freedom" law have said they're worried the new measure will be used to allow businesses to get around those local rules.” - CNN, 3/26/15

Second, there’s been a big, bad change in Washington, DC from the 113th Congress to the 114th. Last year Grassroots Change and our partners spent most of our energy countering destructive state preemption laws. This year, we’re fighting on 51 fronts - including the United States Congress.

There are two pending bills in Congress to update the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). One of the two, the “bipartisan” Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, contains preemption language that could devastate stronger state and local laws that protect communities, families, and individuals from carcinogens and other toxic chemicals. 


Of the two pending bills in the US Senate to update the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (Sens. David Vitter, R-LA, and Tom Udall, D-NM), contains preemption language that is a concern within the White House, as well as for Members of Congress and State officials:

S.697, The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act  

FCC Releases Muni Preemption OrderMultichannel, 3/12/15

Full Text of the FCC order



Health organizations urge House to oppose e-cig bill                                                American Heart Association, Press Release 

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (March 25, 2015) - With just days left in session, Senate Bill 978 that regulates and classifies electronic cigarettes appears to be headed to the House floor for debate.

Leading health organizations oppose the bill over language that protects the tobacco industry and preempts local control of e-cigarettes.

SB 978

eNews Park Forest, 3/17/15
With Newly Approved GE Potato on Horizon, Idaho Seed Preemption Bill Would Remove Essential Local Autonomy Regarding GE Crops, Pesticide Restrictions                       

H 114


Bill allows businesses to reject gay customers
CNN, 3/26/15

The “Religious Freedom Restoration Bill” (SB 101) signed into law by Governor Pence includes preemption language that prevents local authorities from enforcing non-discrimination ordinances.

SB 101

NCAA 'concerned' over Indiana law that allows biz to reject gays
CNN, 3/26/15

Washington (CNN) Indiana Gov. Mike Pence's decision to sign into law a measure that could allow businesses to turn away gay and lesbian customers in the name of "religious freedom" has left the NCAA fretting ahead of next week's men's basketball Final Four in Indianapolis.

"We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees," NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

He said the NCAA will "work diligently" to ensure competitors and visitors at next week's Final Four are not "negatively impacted by this bill." Emmert also said the organization, which is based in Indianapolis, will "closely examine the implications of this bill and how it might affect future events as well as our workforce."

Indiana is the first state this year to enact a measure that's being pushed in a dozen others, and Emmert's comments were just the latest in a series of stinging criticisms issued after Pence signed the bill in a private ceremony with Republican state legislators and socially conservative lobbyists Thursday morning.


HF 1241 Preempts local minimum wage and benefits ordinances, including paid sick days.


Missouri House passes bill banning plastic bag bans
The Pitch, 3/20/15

HB 722

SB 455 - Preempts local minimum wage and benefits ordinances, including paid sick days.


Legislature set to ban local minimum wage laws
Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 3/19/15

SB 241 - Prevents local governments from setting minimum wage, earned sick leave and other benefit requirements higher than the state standards.

New Mexico

HB 498 - Preempts local minimum wage and benefits ordinances, including paid sick days.

New York

Federal Law Does Not Preempt NY Wage Law, Circuit Says
New York Law Journal, 3/30/15  

New York's 2011 Wage Parity Law for home health care workers is not preempted by federal law, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled Friday.

North Carolina

Firearm “Super-Preemption”

S394 - NC already has firearm and ammo preemption, but this super-preemption bill goes farther and proactively punishes both local governments and individual local officials for adopting or trying to enforce gun violence prevention ordinances.

Super-preemption is a rapidly growing trend in the gun violence prevention arena, but Preemption Watch expects the tactic, which radically undermines local democratic institutions, to spread to other health and safety issues in the future.

S394 would make gun laws more uniform across the state. It should be passed into law. 
Beaufort Observer, 3/26/15
An op-ed supporting the bill posted by the pro-gun lobby


A $600-Million Fracking Company Just Sued This Tiny Ohio Town For Its Water
ClimateProgress, 3/24/15

On heels of Ohio Supreme Court ruling banning local action: Drilling company sues small Ohio town


Pennsylvania Lawmakers Should Not Kill Philadelphia's Earned Paid Sick Days
The Huffington Post, 3/19/15


Fire Sprinkler Initiative: Anti-sprinkler legislation

Two companion preemption bills with the same language: HB 787 and SB 474 prohibit requirements for fire sprinkler systems in townhouses imposed under any local or statewide building codes.

Note: Fire prevention advocates refer to state preemption as “anti-sprinkler” legislation to make the issue clearer for advocates and citizens. In many states, fire/building codes are traditionally adopted and enforced at the local level.

Tennessee fights for its right to squash municipal broadband expansion
Ars Technica, 3/24/15

Tennessee files a lawsuit against FCC municipal broadband preemption ruling. Community broadband makes the internet more accessible; with the variety of electronic records requirements in the ACA, not to mention online scheduling of medical appointments, as well as access to health information, means that internet accessibility is a public health issue.


Housing vouchers are latest front in Texas Legislature’s battle over local control
The Dallas Morning News, 3/10/15

AUSTIN — Housing vouchers are the latest front in the Legislature’s battle over municipalities’ authority to exercise local control.

The Senate Business and Commerce Committee heard testimony Tuesday on a bill that would prohibit cities and counties from passing ordinances that bar landlords from disqualifying potential tenants based on their sources of income.

SB 267

State Bills Would Stop Cities' Regulation of O&G Operations
Texas Lawyer, 3/27/15

The Texas Legislature's message to cities throughout the Lone Star State is loud and clear: Back off from regulating oil and gas activities. The recent passage of Senate Bill 1165 by the Senate Natural Resources & Economic Development Committee has opponents complaining that if the bill does become law, Texas cities could end up with drilling operations right next to homes, day care centers or hospitals.

Bills to preempt fracking bans moving in Austin
Star-Telegram, 3/18/15

In addition to HB 40 (Covered in the last edition of the Preemption Watch Newsfeed), there is Senate Bill 1165, which preempts “municipalities from enacting certain restrictive regulations on oil and gas operators,” and Senate Bill 440, which completely eliminates local authority over fracking.


HB 1608Prohibits requiring contractors to pay wages and benefits (including paid sick days) greater than the state. The AFL-CIO is one of the many groups seeking to get Gov. McAuLiffe to veto this bill.


LRB−1116/4 - A bill preempting local government from adopting stronger e-cigarette policies than the state.


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                                     Mark Pertschuk                                Michael Bare                     
Director                                            Program Manager

Preemption Watch is a project of Grassroots Change. Grassroots Change supports grassroots public health and safety movements. We’re joined together by a shared belief in the power of grassroots movements and a commitment to improving the lives of all Americans – whether that means access to healthy foods, violence prevention, paid sick days, or reconnecting children with nature.

Grassroots Change
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Support for this project is provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
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