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News Summary

Growing Southern cities are increasingly targets of state pre-emption

Publication Date: 4/1/2016
  • Author:Allie Yee
  • Publication:Facing South

North Carolina lawmakers' effort to overturn a local ordinance is the latest in a series of political showdowns across the South between cities, which are often progressive and led by Democrats, and states, where conservatives dominate.

With progressive policy gaining little traction at the state level, the region's cities have become laboratories for advancing progressive policies, from protections for LGBT people to minimum wage hikes, fracking bans and policies to promote immigrant integration.

State lawmakers have taken aim at cities through state-level "pre-emption laws" that nullify local policies. In many instances, they have gotten help from the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-backed advocacy group that provides model legislation... 

Mark Pertschuk, head of the watchdog group Preemption Watch, said that 2015 saw more efforts to undermine local control on more issues than any year in history, with at least 29 states considering pre-emption bills affecting local policies — and his group expects to see even more this year...