Thursday, January 26, 2017

State laws that block local laws are on the rise, exposing rural-urban divide in some states

The phenomenon of state lawmakers, largely from rural areas, blocking laws by cities is on the rise, widening the rural/urban divide between cities and states, Sophie Quinton reports for Stateline. "While legislators say they’re trying to ensure consistency in state policy, so-called state pre-emption laws often expose political differences between state leaders—many of whom hail from rural districts—and city leaders." Some cities have fought back, challenging preemptive laws in court. More lawsuits are expected, as are more battles between state lawmakers and cities.

"States vary in the amount of power they give their cities and counties. Ultimately, however, states have the power to decide what localities can or can’t do," Quinton writes. "Pre-emption has become more common partly because cities have grown bigger and more powerful over time, and more likely to experiment with policy." (Stateline graphic)
"Political and philosophical differences also play a role in pre-emption fights," Quinton writes. "Republicans now control both chambers of the legislature and the governor’s office in 24 states. Mayors who ran as Democrats or who are affiliated with the Democratic Party control 78 percent of the nation’s 40 largest cities."

"About 32 states now prohibit localities from regulating ride-hailing companies such as Uber, 23 ban raising the local minimum wage, 15 ban cities from requiring companies to offer sick days, and three ban anti-discrimination ordinances that protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents, according to the tally kept by the Partnership for Working Families, a network of left-leaning advocacy groups," Quinton writes. "Many states also have stopped cities and counties from creating municipal broadband networks, imposing bans on fracking, and charging customers a fee for using plastic carryout bags. In Arizona and Florida, laws penalize cities that defy pre-emption laws."

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