A number of bills making their way through the state Legislature would prevent local governments from enacting their own laws on a variety of issues.
WDET’s Jake Neher and Michigan Public Radio’s Cheyna Roth talk about the pattern of state government preempting local control in recent years.
They point to legislation to ban local governments from declaring themselves sanctuary cities and to ban local taxes on plastic grocery store bags.
Neher says local officials in Metro Detroit complain that state policymakers are leaving them out of the process altogether.
“Right now there is a dialogue missing between those local officials and officials on the state level,” says Neher. “They are just not coming to them and asking them…what is best for the people on the ground?”
Roth says Republican leaders at the state Capitol defend the bills, saying it doesn’t make sense to have a patchwork of different laws across the state on certain issues. State Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) says that lack of uniformity hurts small businesses operating across multiple cities and towns.
But Roth says critics of these bills worry the trend takes power away from residents on the ground who want to influence public policy on a local level.
“When it comes to having a voice in your government, one of your best ways to do that is on the local level,” she says. “It’s easier to talk to, maybe, your councilman or your mayor than, perhaps, the governor or your state Legislature.”
Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.