May 30, 2018
Welcome to the Preemption Watch News. We hope you find these links, excerpts, and summaries useful. You can find more information about preemption here, including our Preemption Map, tools, and research. 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!

Food & Nutrition
The Calorie-Labeling Saga — Federal Preemption and Delayed Implementation of Public Health Law
New England Journal of Medicine, 5/23/2018
The experience of calorie labeling is a cautionary tale for future policies on obesity prevention. It may seem easier to implement some of this policy through federal action than at the state and local levels. But this debacle offers a lesson to advocates looking for a quick federal solution: be careful what you wish for. [Emphasis added]
Republicans Could Bring Back The Farm Bill
Blog for Iowa, 5/22/2018
Why is this House Farm Bill so bad? Because it…
  • Strips away local control.
Iowa’s very own Representative Steve King was able to insert a “Right to Farm” amendment that would prevent local governments from having their own agricultural standards, significantly limiting their ability to protect citizens and support local farmers.
Congress Rejects Anti-Environmental Farm Bill
Environment America, 5/18/2018
Today, Congress rejected a dirty Farm Bill that would have undermined protections for clean water, national forests, and our health. More specifically, the final version of this Farm Bill would have:
  • Pre-empted state and local laws aimed at health and environmental impacts of factory farms
A Farm Bill Of Deep Frustration
Yankton Daily Press & Dakotan, 5/21/2018
This year’s process to renew the Farm Bill in the House has ditched the traditional bipartisan format that has overseen previous measures...The measure also seeks to gut such environmental elements as the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and potentially override state and local guidelines on factory farms.
FPC Statement Following Tragic Santa Fe High School Shooting in Texas
Globe Newswire, 5/18/2018
The Firearms Policy Coalition, a firearms lobby group, released a statement which supported federal firearms preemption laws:
We will continue to press for strong federal preemption legislation to eliminate state and local restrictions on law-abiding people and access to constitutionally protected arms, ammunition, accessories, and training. We will continue to support important reforms of federal statutes and regulations that are in tension with the Constitution and put people at risk of severe criminal liability.

Plastic straws clog the ocean and hurt fish. Now there's a growing movement to ban them.
NBC News, 5/26/2018
The humble plastic drinking straw has become the villain of the moment for environmental crusaders, with New York City joining a small but growing list of communities considering a straw ban to lighten the load on landfills and protect marine life.
The campaign is not advancing uniformly, though. It remains mostly the province of coastal communities, while the plastics industry questions the value of such bans and shareholders for one major straw distributor, McDonald’s, voted against a push by activists for the chain to re-evaluate its use of plastic straws.
About 150 other cities and counties in America also outlawed or restricted the synthetic carry-alls. But efforts in many other places were blocked by the pre-emption actions taken in 10 states: Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri and Wisconsin. [Emphasis added]

In Fights Between States and Cities, It's Not Just Red vs. Blue
Governing, June 2018
Preempting local laws is no longer a trend in just conservative states.
Arizona Democrats tell Gov. Doug Ducey: Call special session on gun control laws now
AZ Central, 5/18/2018
Arizona currently has a comprehensive firearms preemption law, and de facto blanket preemption which allows the state attorney general to direct the treasurer to “withhold state shared monies from [a] county, city or town” that pass local laws that a single member of the state legislature claims conflicts with state law. Source: Grassroots Change’s Preemption Map
Understanding the Power of Laws that Regulate Cities
Flagstaff Business Journal, 5/25/2018
Arizona even has what’s called the “mother of all preemption laws,” which allows the state to deprive cities of stated-shared revenue owed to them should we do something audacious, like ban plastic bags anyway. The results of this are being felt across the state. Tucson had to end a gun buyback program. Bisbee had to end its plastic bag ban. And here in Flagstaff, as residents, we continue to pay approximately $180,000 a year to clean up plastic bags rather than eliminate them and use that money to address other critical needs.  
This is bad news for government, as cities are policy laboratories: we can try out innovative policy solutions that are developed by community members and implement them much easier than you could on a state or national level. Cities face affordable housing shortages and traffic issues. We should be permitted to use any available tool to address these challenges. By enacting these preemption laws, the governor and the legislature are stifling innovation...

Preemption is not only a problem, it’s a threat to democracy. FBN
Boulder passed an ‘assault weapon’ ban Tuesday, got sued Wednesday, 5/17/2018
Boulder City Council passes 'assault' weapons ban - again
9News (Local CBS affiliate), 5/15/2018
Court largely sides with FSU in weapons dispute
CBS 12, 5/25/2018
“Here, appellants brought suit over a year and a half after (the UNF decision on guns in vehicles), and the FSU Student Conduct Code at the time the complaint was filed still contained regulations contrary to the preemption (on universities imposing firearm regulations),” the ruling said. 
Ten more cities join lawsuit against state over firearm regulations
WCTV, 5/16/2018
Let Illinois towns pass assault weapons bans
Chicago Sun-Times, 5/20/2018
It is time for the Illinois General Assembly to pass Senate Bill 2314, allowing communities to exercise their constitutional rights to ban assault weapons if they so choose. Numerous communities have recently performed legal gymnastics in their efforts to regulate these weapons because of continued state preemption. Since the constitutionality of a local community’s decision to ban assault weapons has already been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, the General Assembly should allow municipalities that option.
Bill that would overturn soda tax slows down in state House
KYW News Radio, 5/23/2018
Legislators squabble over Philly's soda tax
The Philadelphia Tribune, 5/25/2018
State lawmakers have moved to final consideration House Bill 2241, which is aimed at halting the city’s tax on sweetened beverages, but opponents like state Rep. Donna Bullock (D-195) said the consequences are more far-reaching than simply taking away a levy on soft drinks.
The soda tax and the Great Depression: The 1932 law that forever changed Philly's taxes
Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/25/2018
Named for Rep. Philip Sterling, the Republican state representative from Philadelphia who sponsored the Depression-era bill, the Sterling Act allowed the city to earn revenue by passing special taxes — as long as it did not pass levies on anything the state already taxed.

The law took center stage before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently, as the justices heard oral arguments on the city’s tax on soda and other sweetened beverages. Opponents of the tax argued that it violated the Sterling Act because ultimately the costs are borne by consumers, who already pay the state sales tax. The city argued that the tax is levied on beverage distribution, not sales.
Pa. Supreme Court hears arguments on Philly soda tax
Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/15/2018
Philadelphia’s Soda Tax Goes to Court: What You Need to Know
Wall Street Journal, 5/15/2018
Soda tax may not be the only school-funding loss if new Pa. House Bill passes
The Philadelphia Inquirer, 5/21/2018
This Pa. House bill would prevent local solutions to local problems
Penn Live, 5/18/2018
Legislation (HB2241) sponsored by Rep. Mark Mustio, R-Allegheny, seeks to bar local communities across Pennsylvania from implementing local fees or taxes on the distribution of food and beverages.
Specifically, the bill would kill the Philadelphia Beverage Tax -- a program that was enacted to fund free, quality preschool education for children; expand community schools in high-needs neighborhoods; and a capital improvement program for the City's parks, recreation centers, and libraries…
This legislation is an unprecedented attack on the authority of local governments, and its passage would cast aside Pennsylvania's… long history of vesting decision-making authority in local governments.

Nashville council asks Haslam to veto bill that would ban sanctuary cities
Tennessean, 5/15/2018
Activists Take Paid Sick Leave Fight to San Antonio with 144,000 Signatures
The Texas Observer, 5/24/2018
San Antonio activists on Thursday submitted about twice the number of signatures necessary to get a mandatory paid sick leave ordinance on the ballot in November. About 100 people turned in dozens of white cardboard boxes containing some 144,000 signatures, which now await verification by the city…
Republican state legislators, including Representative Paul Workman of Austin and Senator Donna Campbell of New Braunfels, have already promised to dash that hope by filing bills in next year’s legislative session to strike down the ordinances and pre-empt others in the future. If Austin, Dallas and San Antonio manage to get their policies in place by late this year, those lawmakers would be attempting to yank paid sick days away from hundreds of thousands of Texans.

In the Face of Preemption Threats, Austin Passes Paid Sick Leave
The Realty Brief, 5/20/2018
Seattle Mayor: ‘Lock up Guns’ but What About Preemption?
Liberty Park Press, 5/25/2018
Big Soft Drink Corporations Funding WA 'Grocery Tax' I-1634
Patch, 5/22/2018
Four of the biggest soft drink makers in the world are behind a ballot initiative that, if passed, would prevent local governments in Washington from taxing sugary drinks - as Seattle did in 2017.
Coca-Cola Co, PepsiCo, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, and Red Bull have given a combined $1.87 million to I-1634. All those companies are based outside of Washington, and took in a combined $110 billion in revenue in 2017. No other individuals or corporations have given money to the initiative.
According to the I-1634 website, the initiative would "protect hard-working families and neighborhood businesses from grocery taxes."
In short, the initiative would prevent local government from taxing "raw or processed foods or beverages." In Washington, food and food ingredients are already exempt for taxation. But the state Department of Revenue in August 2017 deemed that certain beverages could be subject to taxation - items like energy drinks, soda, bottled water, sports drinks, and juice containing less than 50 percent fruit juice.

                                Mark Pertschuk                                                   Michael G. Bare                               
                             Director                                                    Program Manager                   
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. Preemption Watch is a project of Grassroots Change.
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