Across America, efforts to enact to enact local laws on a range of issues are the focus of a growing trend: they are being preempted by state legislation that undermines local democracy.
This is happening all over the country, from North Carolina’s famous “bathroom bill,” which overturned Charlotte’s nondiscrimination ordinance, to Tallahassee’s struggles to address gun violence in the face of state preemption, to Wisconsin’s preemption of paid sick days laws, to minimum wage laws in Minnesota cities.
While control over some policies has always resided at the state and federal level, the pace and scope of preemption has increased greatly in the last decade. Some see it as a concerted effort by conservative state lawmakers to punish more progressive cities.
What Cities Can Do
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Mayors and cities should join with other local leaders across their state to advocate for themselves. The Ohio Mayors Alliance has advocated for everything from infrastructure to opiates.
Lead by Example
Finances & Contracting
Cities can accomplish other policy aims through finances and contracting. Somerville, MA tackled climate change by divesting their retirement funds from fossil fuels. Learn more about divesting your city’s assets here.
The Harris County D.A. and Houston city officials were effectively able to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in practice, by eliminating most arrests and prosecutions and replacing them instead with an education program.