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Professor Riverstone-Newell publishes on state preemption laws

Professor Lori Riverstone-Newell

Professor Lori Riverstone-Newell

Professor Lori Riverstone-Newell, Department of Politics and Government, recently published “The Rise of State Preemption Laws in Response to Local Policy Innovation.”

The study, in Publius: The Journal of Federalism (May 2017) analyzes the increasing use of state preemption law by conservative state leaders as a tool to rein in progressive local governments. The scope and special qualities of recent state preemption laws are explored by examining legislation preempting local fracking bans, preventing minimum wage ordinances, targeting sanctuary city policies, overturning LGBT rights ordinances, and enacting blanket preemption measures.

Reasons for the recent surge of state preemption laws are suggested, and the overall effectiveness of these laws is discussed. It concludes that rising conservative dominance of state legislatures has provided the opportunity to thwart progressive local policies, and these efforts have been aided by various industry and conservative organized groups. State preemption laws are not always successful in their aims.

In some cases, state supreme courts have sided with local officials’ claims of state overreach. In others, local officials have simply refused to comply. In any case, the threat of preemption may have a chilling effect on local policy innovation.