February 25, 2015
Welcome to the Preemption Watch News. We hope you find these news summaries useful. Please send any updates about proposed or pending federal or state preemption that you would like us to include in future Preemption Watch emails to: For more information, go to Preemption Watch on the Web. Thank you for your support!


Govern Yourselves, State Lawmakers Tell Cities, but Not Too Much
The New York Times, 2/23/15

“Darren Hodges, a Tea Party Republican and councilman in the windy West Texas city of Fort Stockton, is a fierce defender of his town’s decision to ban plastic bags. It was a local solution to a local problem and one, he says, city officials had a 'God-given right' to make...

“So-called pre-emption laws, passed in states across the country, have banned cities from regulating landlords, building municipal broadband systems and raising the minimum wage. In the last two years, eight Republican-dominated states, most recently Alabama and Oklahoma, have prevented cities from enacting paid sick leave for workers. Already this year, bills introduced in six more states, including Michigan, Missouri and South Carolina, seek to do the same. At least five states have pre-empted local regulation of e-cigarettes. And in New Mexico, the restaurant industry supports a modest increase to the minimum wage only if the state stops cities from mandating higher minimums...

“Often these efforts are driven by industry, which finds it easier to wield influence in 50 capitols than in thousands of city halls, said Mark Pertschuk, the director of Grassroots Change, which opposes the pre-emption of public health measures...

“This year, a combination of big money in state politics and a large number of first-time state legislators presents an opportunity for industries interested in getting favorable laws on the books, Mr. Pertschuk said. Increasingly, he said, disparate industries are banding together to back the same laws, either through the business-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, or by way of shared lobbyists. ‘There is going to be a feeding frenzy all year long in the state legislatures,’ he said.”

How a powerful rightwing lobby is plotting to stop minimum wage hikes
The Guardian, 2/20/15

“A network of Republican lawmakers and their rightwing corporate funders are battling behind closed doors to block minimum wage increases in cities across the US, in a step-by-step counter-attack that could cut back the incomes of millions of Americans despite an economic upswing.

“According to strategic details obtained by the Guardian, the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec) – along with its localised sister organization, ACCE – is trying to prevent elected city representatives from raising the minimum wage to levels above those set by their states. The group has launched an aggressive dual-track mission that combines legislation and litigation in what Alec calls a “new battleground” over worker compensation.”

ALEC is fighting hard for greater inequality in U.S.
Lexington Herald-Leader, 2/22/15

FCC Should Use Scalpel, Not Ax to Preempt State Laws Limiting Muni-Broadband
JD Supra, 2/16/15

“On Feb. 26, the FCC plans to act to preempt state laws that retard development of municipally owned broadband networks. The breadth of the potential preemption is unclear. The decision will occur at the same meeting at which the FCC plans to adopt broad net neutrality rules applying ‘‘public utility treatment’’ to local broadband networks to protect consumers and broadband applications.”

ATA Seeking Supreme Court Review in California Meal Break Case
Online Trucking News, 2/13/15

“The case will determine whether a federal statute prohibiting states from enacting measures that ‘relate to a price, route or service of any motor carrier,’ preempts California’s meal and rest break requirements. As a result of the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA) more than a dozen class action lawsuits have been filed in the last few years against carriers, alleging violation of those break requirements. But in the majority of the courts in which those cases were filed, courts ruled that the FAAAA preempted the claims and dismissed the suits.”


Right-to-farm amendment moves to full Senate
Nuvo, 2/17/15

Legislation that reduces local authority to regulate concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), also known as factory farms.

“If ratified – which requires approval by two separately elected legislatures and a vote by the public – the amendment would also ban the General Assembly from passing a law that 'unreasonably abridges the right of farmers and ranchers to employ or refuse to employ effective agricultural technology and livestock production and ranching practices.'"


2015 Kentucky Knife Preemption Bill
American Knife & Tool Institute, 2/12/15


Abita Springs files suit again to stop fracking well
The Acadiana Advocate, 2/18/15


2015 Senate Bill 85: Extend preemption of local gun control to air guns
Michigan Votes, 2/10/15


House passes gun-rights bill
Daily Interlake, 2/9/15

New Mexico

New Mexico House committee advances bill giving state sole authority over oil and gas industry
Four Corners News, 2/18/15

“The House Energy and Environment Committee on Wednesday passed a bill that curtails the ability of local governments to regulate the oil and gas industry.”

Four separate bills would preempt local control over oil and gas extraction regulations.

HB 366 - Preempts local authority over fracking, and gives the state Oil Conservation Division and Commission exclusive jurisdiction over oil, gas and waste potash regulations.
HB 199 - Preempts county government regulation or restrictions on oil and gas activities.
SB 421 - Preempts any local government regulation of oil, gas, mining and agricultural operations (e.g. CAFOs).
SB 184 - Fines local governments up to 25% of the costs to extractive mineral industries due to any local health or safety law, with costs estimated by a political appointee in Santa Fe; fined governments would be forbidden from issuing severance tax bonds, including those based on minerals extracted from their municipality or region.


Ohio Supreme Court Says Towns Aren’t Allowed To Ban Fracking
Think Progress, 2/19/15

A legal decision that preempts local control over oil and gas regulations.

“In a slim 4-3 decision, the state’s high court ruled that Ohio has 'sole and exclusive' authority over oil and gas production, determining that the Ohio Constitution does not permit a local community to ban drilling approved by the state Department of Natural Resources. The fractured decision produced a concurring opinion and three separate dissents, one of which suggested that campaign cash influenced the result.”


Senate Energy Committee Approves Bill To Preempt Local Control Of Drilling Operations
NPR, 2/19/15

South Carolina

Smoking bill gets public hearing
Weirton Daily Times, 2/16/15

A bill to preempt county health boards from establishing smoking regulations going into public hearing in South Carolina.

“A bill to restrict the ability of county health boards to adopt smoking regulations has passed out of one committee and will be the subject of a public hearing this week in Charleston.”


Global State Preemption Bill – YES!!
Texas Firearms Coalition, 2/13/15

A bill to eliminate virtually all local public health authority in Texas.

SB 343

“SB343 is very simple and straightforward. If the Texas Legislature has enacted a law or rule concerning a subject, then local governments cannot adopt ordinances, rules or regulations that conflict with those laws or rules, or that are more stringent than the State law or rule. There is one exception to this limitation; if the State law allows local governments to adopt regulations, then they can do so as long as those rules do not exceed the authority set out in the enabling statute.”


Wisconsin Introduces Word-for-Word ALEC Right to Work Bill
PR Watch, 2/20/15

“Wisconsin Republicans have called a special session to take up a 'right to work' measure attacking private sector unions--and the text of the bill, the Center for Media and Democracy has discovered, is taken word-for-word from American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model legislation.”

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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
221 Oak Street, Oakland, CA  94607 (510) 452-9419
Support for this project is provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
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