Say no: States increasingly blocking cities and counties from imposing mandates on businesses
Publication Date: 5/17/2015
- Author:DAVID A. LIEB, Associated Press
Alarmed about cities trying to outlaw plastic bags, the director of the Missouri Grocers Association decided to do something about it. So Dan Shaul turned to his state legislator-- himself -- and guided a bill to passage barring local governments from banning the bags.
Shaul's dual role in state government and business may be a bit out of the norm. Yet his actions are not. In capitols across the country, businesses are increasingly using their clout to back laws prohibiting cities and counties from doing things that might affect their ability to make money.
In the past five years, roughly a dozen states have enacted laws barring local governments from requiring businesses to provide paid sick leave to employees. The number of states banning local minimum wages has grown to 15. And while oil-rich states such as Texas and Oklahoma are pursuing bills banning local restrictions on drilling, other states where agriculture is big business have been banning local limitations on the types of seeds sown for crops.
It seems no issue is too small for businesses to take to capitol halls.
Wisconsin has banned local bans on sugary drinks. Arizona and Florida have barred local governments from forbidding toys in fast-food meals. And Utah has barred cities from requiring bicyclists to be served in drive-thru lanes.
In each case, states have stepped in after city officials somewhere in the nation proposed local policies that business leaders didn't like...
Some experts trace a rise in states pre-empting local ordinances to the 2010 elections, when Republicans won control of 25 legislatures and 29 governors' offices. Republicans have expanded their power since then and now hold complete control of three times as many legislatures and governors' offices as Democrats.
In some cases, those new Republican officeholders have received generous financial support from business interests. Shaul, for example, got about one-quarter of his contributions for his 2014 campaign from people and organizations affiliated with the food industry. In other instances, business lobbyists have simply found a more sympathetic ear in GOP legislatures...