April 5, 2017

Welcome to the Preemption Watch News. We hope you find these links, excerpts, and summaries useful. Please let us know if you have any news about proposed or pending preemption that you would like us to include in future updates. You can contact us at or (510) 452-9419. More information can be found at Thank you for your support!


A baby died in a fire, but requiring sprinklers that might have saved her is banned
The Sacramento Bee, 4/2/2017

This article highlights industry-driven preemption of local residential fire sprinkler requirements, and how deadly preemption can be in this case. 

Trans Rights Weren’t the Only Target of North Carolina’s ‘Bathroom Bill’
The Nation, 3/31/2017

Indeed, preemption is slowly strangling local democratic experimentation on a grand scale. In 2016 alone, at least 36 states across the country introduced new bills meant to suppress municipal policy-making, according to the Preemption Watch initiative. And as the practice spreads—as preemption seeks to shackle cities, impair progressive policy-making, and suppress urban resistance to the Trump agenda—it is evolving newly aggressive and punitive forms.

Birmingham & The Impact of Race on State Preemption Laws
On Labor, 4/3/2017

This article examines the intersection of racism and preemption, specifically the ongoing NAACP lawsuit against the state of Alabama for preempting Birmingham's higher local minimum wage ordinance. The NAACP argues that the state preemption law was enacted "'with racial animus' and violated both the Equal Protection Clause and the Voting Rights Act."

Think globally and stand up locally
The Huffington Post, 4/3/2017

Red States Are Rejecting Anti-Trans Bathroom Bills
The Daily Beast, 3/29/201

Thwarting Cities in the Trump Era
CityLab, 3/30/2017

Democratic Sens. Introduce Muni Broadband Barriers Preemption Bill
Multichannel News, 3/29/2017

Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Angus King (I-Me.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) have introduced a bill they say is intended to give cities the "flexibility" to meet the broadband needs of their residents when it is not being met otherwise.

The Community Broadband Act would amend the 1996 Telecommunications Act to ban state, local or tribal statutes or regs that prohibit cities from providing high-speed broadband.

Actually, the FCC effort was not aimed at preempting laws preventing buildouts, authority it conceded it did not have, but to preempting laws that limited expansion of already-authorized municipal nets. 

The bill covers that, too, saying that the laws can't inhibit "any public provider from providing telecommunications services or advanced telecommunications capability or services to any person or any public or private entity."

The bill can be read here (no number assigned yet)

Several States Take Up City, County Wage, Benefit Preemption Bills in 2017
Bloomberg News, 3/22/2017


Arkansas Lawmaker Drops Transgender Bathroom Access Bill
On Top Magazine, 3/31/2017

An Arkansas lawmaker on Wednesday pulled from consideration her bill that sought to restrict bathroom access to transgender people in many buildings.


David Hazen: We will fight to regain local control over fracking
Daily Camera, 3/23/2017

I watched in dismay last November as Democrats came out in favor of making it more difficult to change the state constitution, giving a big holiday gift to the oil and gas industry. The industry spending millions to manipulate public opinion reminds me of the early fight that the tobacco industry waged against the American people, which upsets me to this day due to having watched my mother suffer and die from her smoking-caused lung cancer. To those in our communities and schools having to live with drilling sites next to you, please know that many of us are up for a fight, as long as it takes to get back local control of such decisions.


CS/HB17 - Currently in the House Commerce Committee, HB 17 reads: “Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, this section expressly preempts the regulation of businesses, professions, and occupations to the state and supersedes any local government regulation of businesses, professions, or occupations…” 

SB1158 - Similar to HB 17, Senate Bill 1158 would also broadly preempt regulations that may impact businesses. SB 1158 reads in part: "The state expressly preempts the regulation of matters relating to commerce, trade, and labor under the conditions set forth in this section.”

Andrew Gillum, Mayors: State preemption hurts local values
Florida Politics, 3/30/2017

For the past few years, state legislators in Tallahassee have steadily eroded the ability of towns, villages, cities and counties to govern. They’ve passed new laws to prevent citizens from having their say through local government. And now, they’re threatening to silence local voices with fines and other punishment.

It’s called preemption. And it’s a threat to our democracy.

State lawmakers don’t like when our communities pass ordinances to preserve quality of life, protect our environment, promote public safety, improve wages and sick leave, regulate utility infrastructure, development and vacation rentals, and restrict threats to public health. They don’t like when cities and counties govern according to their own values. So, they strip local authority with ill-advised preemption.

Lawmakers Vote To Preempt Local Rules For Public Contracts
WFSU, 3/29/2017

Law Bars Miami Beach Minimum Wage Hike, Judge Says
Law360, 3/29/2017

Miami Beach’s proposed minimum wage increase was blocked Tuesday by a Florida state judge who determined that it violated a state law prohibiting municipalities from creating wage floors that buck the statewide rate.


Iowans for Gun safety wants lawmakers to take another look at the current gun bill
Our Quad Cities, 4/3/2017

The group Iowans for Gun Safety wants lawmakers to take another look at the current gun bill. They focused on four big areas they say they're willing to have a conversation about.

Here's what they want: The stand your ground section striked, possession of a handgun under 14 years old striked, pre-emption for local government striked and would like to add in annual criminal checks.

Johnson County prepares for minimum wage pre-emption
The Gazette (Iowa City), 3/29/2017

Rollback of minimum wages now in governor's hands
The Gazette (Iowa City), 3/27/2017

Legislature approves bill limiting livestock lawsuits
Des Moines Register, 3/22/2017

The Iowa Legislature approved a bill Wednesday that caps some damages associated with "nuisance" livestock lawsuits. The bill's floor manager, Rep. Chip Baltimore, R-Boone, said Senate File 447 would reward the good actors by limiting the risk that comes with running farms and animal feeding operations. The limits on lawsuit, which include a cap on some damages, wouldn't apply to habitual offenders or to farms that violate environmental regulations…

SF 447


How Would HB 1523 Affect Families & LGBT Couples? The Law Permits Discrimination
Romper, 4/3/2017

After being blocked by a Mississippi judge this summer, a Mississippi law that would allow merchants and government employees to deny services to same-sex couples on religious grounds is being heard this week by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If the court decides in favor of the legislation, how would H.B. 1523 affect families and LGBT couples? Theoretically, the law could disallow LGBT couples from getting married, adopting, or even eating at a restaurant of their choice.  

Mississippi Governor Approves Outlawing of Sanctuary Cities
U.S. News & World Report, 3/27/2017

Gov. Phil Bryant signed a law Monday banning sanctuary cities and other policies that might help people who have entered the country illegally, saying he wants Mississippi to help federal agencies arrest people without legal status…

The bill says cities, state agencies and public colleges in Mississippi can't prevent employees from asking about someone's immigration status. These public agencies also can't give aid to people who entered the country without permission, such as by issuing an identification card...

The bill would override Mississippi's only sanctuary policy — a 2010 ordinance in the city of Jackson that prevents police officers from asking about immigration status. Some people say that ordinance alone doesn't make Jackson a sanctuary city, but Bryant dismissed that distinction.


Legislators debate loss of 'local control' in agriculture proposal
Columbia Missourian, 3/29/2017

HB 175, sponsored by Reiboldt, would no longer allow local government to regulate or create any ordinances or rules regarding "seeds, fertilizers or soil conditioners." Soil conditioners are any substances, excluding fertilizers, that can be added to the soil or applied to plants...

Bill to preempt St. Louis anti-discrimination ordinance advances in Missouri House
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 3/28/2017

The Missouri House gave initial approval Tuesday to a measure that would block recent changes to St. Louis’ anti-discrimination ordinance, marking the second time this year the chamber acted to override the city’s laws.

In February, St. Louis aldermen banned employers and landlords from discriminating against women who have had an abortion, use contraceptives, or are pregnant.

The bill in the Legislature would block cities such as St. Louis from enacting ordinances that would infringe on the free speech and religious rights of alternatives to abortion agencies or facilities that counsel pregnant women against abortion.

HB 174


Montana transgender bathroom bill killed in committee; ballot initiative vowed
Missoulian, 3/27/2017

Legislators rejected a bill Monday that would have set up a statewide vote on whether transgender people could use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity, regardless of whether they match their gender at birth...

After the vote, the Montana Family Foundation, which supported the bill, said they will instead bring the Montana Locker Room Privacy Act as a ballot initiative.

North Carolina

Calling foul on North Carolina’s latest transgender bathroom bill
Chicago Sun-Times, 3/31/2017

Thursday, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed a law to “repeal” the so-called bathroom bill enacted last year to force transgender people to use bathrooms that match the gender on their birth certificates. The original bill also prevented local governments from passing laws to protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The new law is only a slight improvement. It got rid of the birth certificate requirement but prohibits local governments from enacting anti-discrimination laws of their own until December 2020. Basically, the new law sends a signal that it’s just fine to marginalize LGBTQ folks at least for a few more years.

North Carolina governor signs bill repealing and replacing transgender bathroom law amid criticism
Washington Post, 3/30/2017

In the new law, legislators imposed a three-year ban on local governments enacting nondiscrimination ordinances — extending it until after North Carolina’s next gubernatorial election. The bill — just a half-page long — also includes a measure stating that “no local government in this state may enact or amend an ordinance regulating private employment practices or regulating public accommodations.”

N.C. Repeals ‘Bathroom Bill,’ Pre-Empts Local Employment Laws
Society for Human Resources Management, 3/31/2017

...the bill that rolled back H.B. 2 was a compromise: H.B. 142 now pre-empts all localities from enacting or amending employment law legislation of any kind through Dec. 1, 2020. This pre-emption is not limited to barring local bathroom access statutes or laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, but extends to local minimum-wage laws and ban-the-box ordinances...

North Carolina Enshrines Discrimination into Law
Equality Federation, 3/30/2017

Equality Federation condemned North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper for signing HB 142, a law that legislators attempted to frame as a repeal of the famously discriminatory HB 2. In fact, the new law keeps in place the most troubling parts of HB 2, including the provision that prevents local governments from passing nondiscrimination ordinances.

Local LGBT protections would still be banned under draft HB2 replacement bill
The News & Observer, 3/26/2017

HB 142


Freedom On The Move In Oklahoma
NRA, 3/28/2017

The National Rifle Association reports that HB 2322, a firearms super preemption bill, has “passed the House of Representatives 76-10, and “has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

Senate kills bill to prevent cities from protecting LGBT residents
Tulsa World, 3/24/2017

The Oklahoma Senate on Thursday killed a bill that would have nullified city of Tulsa ordinances offering protections against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in housing and employment.

Senate Bill 694, by Sen. Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, failed by a vote of 18 for and 25 against. It requires 25 votes in the Senate to pass a measure.

SB 694


Oregon Legislature considers environmental protection bills
Eugene Weekly, 3/23/2017

Also on the legislative agenda is SB 499, which “creates exceptions to limitation on liability for certain farming and forest practices for actions for serious harm to human health and loss of use of residential property or domestic drinking water.” In other words, the bill would amend ORS 30.936, Oregon’s “Right to Farm and Forest” law, to give people recourse if farming or forest practices cause the loss of use of residential property or domestic drinking water.

Oregon lawmakers consider banning livestock discrimination
East Oregonian, 3/23/2017

A landowner in West Salem is facing a prohibition against raising pigs on properties smaller than 10 acres due to a species-specific regulation by Polk County’s government.

The dispute has caught the attention of Rep. Paul Evans, D-Monmouth, and Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem, who have proposed a bill that would ban county ordinances that generally allow livestock but forbid certain animals.


PA governor promises to veto gun preemption bill moving through Senate, 3/29/2017

Pennsylvania: Preemption Legislation Passed Committee
NRA-ILA, 3/28/2017

SB5, a firearms super preemption bill, has passed the Pennsylvania Senate Local Government Committee with an 8-3 vote. 


Preemption Bill to be Heard by Committee Tomorrow!
NRA-ILA, 3/27/2017

According to firearms advocates the House Civil Justice Committee will hold a hearing to consider House Bill 508 on March 28, 2017

State House Votes to Block Memphis, Nashville Pot Ordinances
Memphis Daily News, 3/27/2017

Setting up a Senate debate on state pre-emption of Nashville and Memphis marijuana laws, the state House has approved legislation striking down local ordinances giving police discretion to hand out citations for small amounts of pot.

Tennessee transgender bathroom bill fails in Senate panel
McClatchy DC Bureau, 3/22/2017

Smoking in parks motion OK’d
OakRodger, 3/22/2017

Oak Ridge City Council unanimously passed a resolution at its most recent meeting, which requests that the state of Tennessee "repeal any preemption of local control to regulate smoking."

Council member Ellen Smith...explained at a recent City Council work session that state laws currently preempt local authority "over anything to do with smoking" except near city-owned buildings. The city cannot restrict smoking in its own parks or any other spaces…

Changing the restriction on local governments is not an abstract issue, but one being considered in Tennessee's General Assembly. House Bill 0122 and Senate Bill 0303 have both been filed.


Fearing Economic Hit, Texas Trans Bathroom Access Bill May be DOA
Newsweek, 3/25/2017

Straus condemns "bathroom bill," talks local control
Texas Tribune, 3/25/2017

Texas House Speaker Joe Straus on Friday gave perhaps his harshest condemnation yet of the controversial “bathroom bill” championed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick

Straus said the bill, which has drawn the ire of Texas businesses and been criticized as discriminatory against transgender people, felt “manufactured and unnecessary.”

“If we’ve gotten to the point in our civilization, in our society, that our politicians have to pass bills about bathroom stuff ... I mean, we’ve gotten really out of control,” he said...

“I oppose it," Straus said. "... I don’t feel a great deal of fervor to promote that bill in the House.”..

Asked about Abbott’s Tuesday remark that he wants the Legislature to pass a “broad-based law” that pre-empts local regulations, Straus said he didn’t know “exactly” what the governor had said but that Straus preferred a “step-by-step” approach to issues of local control.

“I don’t think a blanket policy on exerting power from Austin over locals is a particularly attractive idea, and I don’t think it’ll happen,” Straus said…

Abbott Calls for Statewide Pre-emption
Empower Texans, 3/27/2017

On Monday, Gov. Greg Abbott doubled down on earlier statements calling for a “broad-based law” pre-empting local regulations.

Though “local control” hasn’t received as much attention this session as observers expected, the battle is quickly bubbling to the surface as lawmakers deliberate the balance of power between state and local government...

Despite Abbott’s support, attempts to rein in local governments are expected to be met with stiff resistance from the Texas House.

In an interview last week, House Speaker Joe Straus (R–San Antonio) sharply disagreed with 

Abbott, saying he does not believe a “blanket policy on exerting power from Austin over locals is a particularly attractive idea.”

Abbott wants "broad-based law" that pre-empts local regulations
Texas Tribune, 3/21/2017

As local control battles rage at the Texas Capitol, Gov. Greg Abbott is voicing support for a much more sweeping approach to the issues that have captured headlines.

"As opposed to the state having to take multiple rifle-shot approaches at overriding local regulations, I think a broad-based law by the state of Texas that says across the board, the state is going to pre-empt local regulations, is a superior approach," Abbott said Tuesday during a Q&A session hosted by the Texas Conservative Coalition Research Institute, an Austin-based think tank. 

Such an approach, Abbott added, "makes it more simple, more elegant, but more importantly, provides greater advance notice to businesses and to individuals that you’re going to have the certainty to run your lives." 

At Capitol, bill targeting plastic bag bans draws strong opposition
Texas Tribune, 3/14/2017

                                Mark Pertschuk                                                   Michael G. Bare                               
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