How to Preempt “Conservative” Preemptors and Win

Keep your friends close and your government closer, especially in states with conservative legislatures.

Although many conservative lawmakers get elected by preaching smaller government, they often sing a different tune when special interest money comes calling. That’s what’s happening in Florida.

Our conservative legislature is obsessed with taking away local control and decision making. It’s called preemption and super-preemption.

It’s a way for special interests to bypass your city, town, and county to make their own rules. They use pre-emption because it’s much easier to get state lawmakers far from home to do their special interest bidding. It just takes a few checks.

Through preemption, state lawmakers can roll back decades of local LGBT, environmental, and wage protection laws and ordinances that make our local cities, towns, and counties great.

It’s not good. But, when we work together, we can also preempt the preemptors.

That’s what we did with House Bill 17 in Florida.

This bill would have crippled local control, local solutions, and devastated much of what makes our state so great — our people, our environment, and our many, many small businesses. Gun safety laws? Preempted. LGTBTQ protections? Preempted.

Through our Campaign to Defend Local Solutions, we recruited great organizations to highlight the very real threat to our way of life, our schools, our safety, and our environment.

Our voice was joined by great organizations like Equality Florida, the Sierra Club, SEIU Florida, AFL-CIO of Florida, and we added our voice to those of the Florida League of Cities and Florida Association of Counties, who have long been strong advocates for local control. Local elected officials from all corners of our state spoke loud and clear. And then we showed up.

At every committee meeting, we were there. Every media opportunity, we were there. And every local event that would let us in the door, we were there to activate real people with real stories — preempting the preemptors.

And we won.

House Bill 17 was defeated and local control was given another year of life.

But we can’t let up. This will be back next year.

And we have preemption battles being waged all over the country.

Social equality in North Carolina.

Fracking in Colorado.

Minimum wage laws everywhere.

As long as huge, corporate special interests keep writing checks, we’ll have to remain vigilant, especially in states with conservative legislatures. Do your part and #DefendLocal by signing up at