While this year’s election was momentous in many ways, including a new incoming federal administration, there was less of a sea change within state legislatures across the country. Although there were shifts in a few states, control of state legislatures looks largely the same heading into 2021. For example, in Minnesota, where local minimum wage and paid sick leave ordinances were recently challenged, and North Carolina, where until just this month localities were not allowed to enact nondiscrimination ordinances, the state legislative balance of power has remained largely the same. In fact, some states have become more hostile to local policymaking: The policy priorities circulated by leadership in Montana’s incoming legislature include preventing cities and counties from implementing certain COVID responses and prohibiting local regulations around wages and employee benefits.
As such, it remains clear that progressive cities will likely still be at the forefront of promoting innovative and equitable policies, especially as the COVID pandemic continues to rage. A Better Balance remains committed to working with cities, organizers, and advocates to ensure that local progress will continue, and that communities can enact policies that reflect their needs and values. As ever, we will continue to focus on policies like paid leave, fair scheduling, equal pay, and nondiscrimination, to ensure that all workers can balance their health and economic security.
In addition to our direct work with policymakers and advocates—including by providing technical assistance and drafting amicus briefs—ABB’s Defending Local Democracy Project recently contributed two articles about the effect of state-local tensions when it comes to civil rights & antidiscrimination work and workers’ rights, both of which were featured in the new Local Power and Politics Review. We hope that these and other resources will continue to help our partners in their efforts to defend local democracy and promote progressive policies at all levels.