Research Report Do the Effects of a Regulatory Patchwork Justify State Preemption of Local Laws?
Mark Treskon, John Marotta, Prasanna Rajasekaran, Kriti Ramakrishnan, Aaron Shroyer, Solomon Greene
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This report investigates arguments that justify state preemption of local lawmaking on the basis that local laws produce a harmful “patchwork” of regulations within a state. We examine the use and merits of the patchwork argument across 10 policy areas­, (focusing on paid sick leave, rent control, plastic bag bans and regulations, and antidiscrimination laws) and review the evidence around the patchwork argument’s merits. We find little research evidence that a patchwork of local laws harms businesses, residents, or consumers. Arguments in favor of preemption generally focus on the supposed harm of the regulation itself, rather than on the marginal costs of a patchwork of local laws. Given this lack of evidence, we recommend more research studying the marginal costs and benefits of having different local laws in different jurisdictions.

Executive Summary

Research Areas Economic mobility and inequality Health and health care Neighborhoods, cities, and metros Social safety net Taxes and budgets Climate, disasters, and environment Housing Sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression
Tags Families with low incomes State programs, budgets Housing markets Wages and nonwage compensation Public health Housing and the economy Labor force Work supports State and local tax issues LGBTQ+ equity Environmental quality and pollution Community and economic development LGBTQ+ health and healthcare LGBTQ+ people and housing and transportation equity LGBTQ+ rights and antidiscrimination Wages and economic mobility Impact of crises on housing
Policy Centers Research to Action Lab