Our Issues

Defending Local Democracy

Cities have historically been the birthplace of innovative, equitable, and progressive local policies. From workplace fairness to racial justice, local communities are leading the way when it comes to protecting the health, welfare, and safety of their residents.

Unfortunately, this local progress and innovation is increasingly being blocked, or “preempted,” by state and federal laws, preventing cities from passing ordinances that reflect local views and values. We believe that local communities know what’s best for them, and are working on the front lines with advocates and elected officials across the country, using the power of the law to defend progressive local policies against preemption.

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Working families, minorities, and LGBTQ communities are being put at risk by the rise of preemption.

Cities have been on the frontlines in the fight to reform the workplace, enacting progressive policies such as paid sick time, minimum wage, and fair scheduling. Cities were also the first to expand nondiscrimination policies to protect LGBTQ populations. These policies—and many more that ABB fights for—have been targeted by state interference, stifling policy innovation, blocking social justice efforts, and hurting working families.

Preemption is becoming more common and more extreme.

State legislatures—often in response to corporate lobbyists and special interest groups—are increasingly turning to preemption to overturn and prevent local laws that would guarantee residents a living wage, protect the local environment, prevent discrimination, and more. At the same time, progressive local laws and policies face a growing threat of federal preemption.

Preemption laws are also becoming more extreme: some laws go so far as to withhold funding from cities or punish individual local legislators for passing laws that would benefit their communities.

Working Around the Country and Across Movements

ABB is helping to lead an innovative, cross-movement national project dedicated to strengthening, protecting, and defending progressive local laws.

We are working closely with the Local Solutions Support Center and other national and local partners to develop proactive and defensive legal strategies and provide technical assistance to cities and advocates in their fight against preemption.


states preempt local laws guaranteeing workers access to paid sick days.

20 mil

people live in states that prevent cities from protecting LGBTQ individuals from discrimination.


states have passed anti-immigrant laws aiming to ban or punish sanctuary cities.


of voters believe that local communities should be able to improve upon state law.

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