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GOP Preemption Laws and Cities’ Fight for Local Control

Conservative state governments throughout the country are increasingly taking up preemption laws to bring local issues under state control. According to the National League of Cities, “this year, there are 600 different preemptive laws that are being proposed by different legislatures throughout America,” a fact that NLC calls “very concerning to our municipal leaders.” Missouri, whose two largest cities, Kansas City and St. Louis, are run by NewDEAL Mayors Quinton Lucas and Tishaura Jones, has been at the forefront of this effort. The state took control over the Kansas City Police Department in the 1930s in response to mob influence and has resisted calls to return it.,. Now, the GOP-led legislature is trying to do the same in St. Louis. While conservatives argue that state control is necessary to address crime, Lucas, Jones, and other Democratic leaders emphasize how the conservative state government is subverting local control and preventing cities from enacting their own agendas. Read more from NPR about Missouri and other states, like Mississippi, Florida, and Texas, where states are stopping local action on issues such as education, housing, energy, and gun safety.

States Leading the Charge in Providing Free School Meals to End Food Insecurity

Nutritious meals are essential for the health and academic success of students. During the previous two school years, the U.S. Department of Education issued waivers that empowered schools to serve free, fully reimbursed meals to all students. Now that the waivers have expired, many eligible families have been caught off guard by the required, burdensome application process, and student meal debt is on the rise. A new report from the Center for American Progress highlights 5 states – California, Maine, Colorado, Minnesota, and New Mexico – where lawmakers have acted to approve free meals for all students. Some states have also temporarily extended the pandemic-era waivers, while others have taken permanent steps towards making all school meals free. NewDEAL Leaders are leading the charge in Massachusetts, where Representative Andy Vargas’ efforts secured one year extension of universal free meals  in the state’s budget. In New Jersey, Senator Troy Singleton successfully passed a package of bills to expand free school meals, while assisting and educating parents on enrollment. And Nevada Assemblymember Sandra Jauregui recently introduced legislation to create a universal school breakfast and lunch program. These examples can serve as models for other states to take action and help students thrive by reducing financial hardship and administrative burdens imposed by the current system.

NewDEALers in the Spotlight

Mayor Bibb Invests in Cleveland’s Future

On his 100th day in office as Arizona Secretary of State, NewDEAL Leader Adrian Fontes announced a new plan to help all 15 counties in his state prepare to administer the 2024 election. To develop the plan, Fontes toured all 15 Arizona counties and met with local election administrators to gain an understanding of the unique challenges facing each community. Fontes, who co-chairs the NewDEAL Forum Democracy Working Group, plans to create a new position within his department to provide counties with the technical assistance and training needed to address physical and cybersecurity threats. “In our battle against misinformation, it is crucial that the rules governing elections be clear, concise, and understandable—not just for elections professionals but for ordinary citizens as well,” Fontes said. “We are proud to be working with county elections officials, stakeholders, and lawmakers to deliver the best manual possible.” Read more here.