Countering State Preemption and Protecting the Power of Local Government

Monday, July 10th  | 12 - 1 PM PT / 1 - 2 PM MT / 2 - 3 CT / 3 - 4 PM ET

American cities have historically been places of innovation and incubation when it comes to advancing equity and inclusion. Today, however, they face a fast-growing threat. Since the 2010 midterm elections, state lawmakers have become more aggressive in their use of preemption to stop local lawmaking across a broad and expanding range of issues, including labor standards, civil rights, broadband, environmental protection, and public health. Preemption is now being used to negate elections, perpetuate racial and economic inequality, and limit local anti-discrimination efforts. The sheer number, significant reach, and punitive nature of these preemption laws have overwhelmed local officials and advocates, and sapped the problem-solving power of local governments critical to our representative democracy. Speakers will discuss the landscape of state preemption and share newly developed legal theories and strategies to push back preemption. We will also learn about the organizing and communications tactics that have been used in specific states protect the power of local democracy.

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Hosted by the Funders' Committee for Civic Participation. Co-sponsored by Environmental Grantmakers Association, Grantmakers Concerns with Immigrants and Refugees, Grantmakers Income Security Taskforce, Neighborhood Funders Group, Philanthropy New York, and Women Donors Network.


  • Elizabeth Guernsey, Open Society Foundations (Moderator)
  • Andrew Gillum, Mayor of Tallahassee + Campaign to Defend Local Solutions
  • Kim Haddow, Rockefeller Family Fund
  • Professor Nestor Davidson, Fordham Law School