Despite long advocating small government and local control, Republican governors and legislators across a significant swath of the country are increasingly overriding the actions of Democratic cities — removing elected district attorneys or threatening to strip them of power, taking over election offices and otherwise limiting local independence.
State lawmakers proposed nearly 700 bills this year to circumscribe what cities and counties can do, according to Katie Belanger, lead consultant for the Local Solutions Support Center, a national organization focused in part on ending the overreach it calls “abusive state preemption.”
The group’s tracking mostly found “conservative state legislatures responding to or anticipating actions of progressive cities,” she said, with many bills designed to bolster state restrictions on police defunding, abortion, and LGBTQ and voting rights. As of mid-October, at least 92 had passed.
In Florida, for instance, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed sweeping measures that empower the state attorney general to pursue election-related crimes and that require cities and counties to suspend a local ordinance if someone sues alleging it is preempted by state law. He has removed two elected Democratic prosecutors in as many years, including one who pledged not to charge people seeking abortions or transgender care.
More clashes are expected. Louisiana Gov.-elect Jeff Landry takes office in January and has promised to confront the state’s largest city, New Orleans. He already has created a committee led by a local GOP political donor and businessman to address public safety and other issues there. He has threatened to withhold state funding for the city’s water infrastructure until the DA agrees to prosecute women who violate the state’s abortion ban by seeking the procedure. [Continue reading…]