This article by Simon Davis-Cohen appeared in The Progressive, April 5th, 2018.
The Republican Party and corporate-backed groups like the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council have made “state preemption” of local political and economic powers a top priority for decades. Left-leaning electoral movements have been sluggish in their response.
Despite Occupy and other mobilizations against globalized capitalism, for example, the institutional left has stopped short of promoting anything close to the structural change that would be necessary to accommodate pro-local projects. Yet municipalist movements are broadly supported in the United States, in movements for local control over renewable energy, education, the minimum wage, and other issues.
A new poll commissioned by Local Solutions Support Center shows that a majority of voters nationally disapprove of state legislatures’ preemption of local laws expanding worker benefits, increasing wage increases, and tightening gun controls.
The poll also found that 70 percent of people think state preemption “happens frequently or sometimes due to corporate special interests and lobbyists convincing state lawmakers to preempt local laws to protect their profits.” And 58 percent believe local governments are more knowledgeable of community needs.
Rene Lara, legislative director of the Texas AFL-CIO, says an informal coalition of groups has unified in response to that state’s flood of preemption laws. Local governments in Texas are now prohibited from hindering federal immigration enforcement, raising the minimum wage, curtailing fossil fuel extraction, regulating payday loans, protecting local seed varieties from genetically modified pollen, and much more.
Opponents see “the overall issue of state preemption as a common threat,” Lara says.
In Florida, gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, has made defending local solutions a key campaign issue, helping to bring together a diverse coalition of groups stifled by the state’s undermining of municipal governments. A laundry list of gun control advocates, environmental groups, labor unions, immigrant rights organizations, and local elected officials have signed on to the Campaign to Defend Local Solutions, which is helping to make state preemption a top issue ahead of the November 2018 elections. MORE…