Home > Governance > Preserving Local Control

Preserving Local Control

Across America, efforts to enact to enact local laws on a range of issues are the focus of a growing trend: they are being preempted by state legislation that undermines local democracy. 


This is happening all over the country, from North Carolina’s famous “bathroom bill,” which overturned Charlotte’s nondiscrimination ordinance, to Tallahassee’s struggles to address gun violence in the face of state preemption, to Wisconsin’s preemption of paid sick days laws, to minimum wage laws in Minnesota cities.


While control over some policies has always resided at the state and federal level, the pace and scope of preemption has increased greatly in the last decade. Some see it as a concerted effort by conservative state lawmakers to punish more progressive cities. 

City governments are raising standards for working people, Marni von Wilpert, Economic Policy Institute, August 26th, 2017. Read more.

Cities Are Fighting to Close the Pay Gap–But States Are Standing in the Way, Christiana McFarland, Route Fifty, April 4th, 2017. Read more.

Trans Rights Weren’t the Only Target of North Carolina’s ‘Bathroom Bill’, Jimmy Tobias, The Nation, March 31st, 2017. Read more.

City Rights in an Era of Preemption: A State-by-State Analysis, National League of Cities, February 22nd, 2017. Read more.

Protecting Local Control: A Research and Messaging Toolkit, Kim Haddow, December 7th, 2015. Read more.

Best Practices: Tracking and Countering Preemption, Grassroots Change. Read more.

Campaign to Defend Local Solutions


Voices for Healthy Kids: Preemption


Grassroots Change: Preemption Watch

The NAACP sued Alabama over preemption of Birmingham’s minimum wage law.


Denton Texas has been trying to ban fracking for years. While currently preempted, this case offers lessons for other cities. 


Mariah Young-Jones

View more materials from our workshops local control here and here.