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Cities Have a Good Idea? Not Unless the State Says So.

When Arizona passed a sweeping measure last year prohibiting all cities within the state from taking any action contrary to state laws, Republican lawmakers said it was about getting everyone on the same page.

Arizona's city leaders — most of them Democrats — saw handcuffs.

The measure, which critics have called "the mother of all 'preemption' laws," was a first-of-its-kind law that allowed the state government to withhold funds from cities, counties and municipalities that pass any laws, regulations or ordinances that violate any state law.

It's spread well beyond Arizona.

"It feels a lot like a lot like being forced into submission, like we’re being bullied," said Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, Florida, a Democrat. "It's a fight of blue cities versus red states. They now want to punish people for simply exercising their democratic rights, a new frontier."

Historically, preemption laws have intended to nullify local laws or ordinances. But in recent years, conservative-controlled state Legislatures have used such laws to thwart cities in ways large and small, including minimum wage legislation, fracking and even plastic bag bans.

Proponents of preemption laws say they’re simply trying to bring regulations within their states under control, in ways that comply with their state constitutions.

"Framers of state constitutions, certainly the framers of the Florida state constitution, didn't intend for these local governments to decide what certain things — something like a minimum wage, should be. Those are state-level decisions," said Florida Republican state Rep. Randy Fine.

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