State Preemption of Local Authority on the Upswing, Research Shows

City Hall in Petoskey, Michigan

City Hall in Petoskey, Michigan Shutterstock


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The National League of Cities released an updated report this week on the number of states that have laws preempting local power in certain policy areas.

State laws preempting local authority are on the rise around the U.S., according to research the National League of Cities released this week.

The group says that, compared to last year, states have passed 19 new laws that preempt the power of local governments. NLC's report concentrates on seven policy areas—minimum wage, paid leave, anti-discrimination, ride-booking services, like Uber, home sharing platforms, like Airbnb, municipal broadband, and taxes and spending.

For each of the policy areas, the number of states with preemptive laws is as follows:

  • Minimum wage: 28
  • Paid leave: 23
  • Anti-discrimination: 3
  • Ride-booking: 41
  • Home sharing: 5
  • Municipal broadband: 20
  • Tax and expenditure limitations: 42

NLC characterizes preemption as the use of state law to nullify a municipal ordinance or authority.

Some of the factors driving increased preemption, the group says, are special interest lobbying efforts, political divides between rural and urban areas and single party dominance in most state governments—which the researchers flag as an especially significant factor.

A full copy of NLC's report can be found here.

Bill Lucia is a Senior Reporter for Government Executive's Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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