- Click here for the article.
- And click here for detail about the conflict over preemption across the nation - including Texas.
A tug-of-war between cities and state governments has developed behind the scenes of the 21st century's biggest policy debates. Interest groups advancing policy reforms ranging from bans on fracking to higher minimum wages have led local and state officials to tussle over appropriate responses. Mayors, city councils, and community activists are passing ordinances and initiatives on wages, gun control, and LGBT issues in order to fill gaps perceived in existing law. Governors and state legislators have pushed back against these local responses, citing their interests in creating uniform policies across all local governments in their states.
This struggle continues the decades-long evolution of preemption, a legal concept that allows a state law to supersede a conflicting local law due to the state's power to create cities as granted by state constitutions. The term is also used to describe a similar exercise of power by the federal government over states, but this page only deals with preemption at the local and state level. Preemption jumped into the national spotlight in 2016 as friction increased between cities and states. These tensions are due in part to a common partisan divide: Democrats tend to control large cities, while Republicans tend to control state governments. Entering 2016, Democratic mayors oversaw 67 of the nation's 100 largest cities by population. This contrasts with Republican state government trifectas in 23 states and Republicans holding 30 out of 50 governorships in 2016.
Legislators and governors argue that preemption allows states to create consistent laws across all municipalities. State officials also suggest that they are in better positions than cities to protect the rights of individuals by virtue of a larger view of policy debates.
Mayors, city councils, and county officials argue that preemption takes away local control necessary to respond to specific issues. Local officials also suggest that they are more attuned to the needs of the public given the relatively small number of state officials.