PoliSci Blog

Posted on February 23rd, 2021 in Faculty by Aaron Dusso
Bill Blomquist

2021 Indiana General Assembly features several bills that would preempt local government decision making

by Dr. Bill Blomquist

Although the need to pass a state government budget and issues involving CoVid-19 response are rightly expected to dominate the current session of the Indiana General Assembly, another and perhaps surprising flurry of legislative activity has involved proposed legislation that would displace local government decision-making about certain policy issues. In Indiana and in other states, if the State government rules that local governments cannot make their own rules about something, then any further policymaking about that issue would have to happen on a statewide basis instead.

Interestingly, this topic of “state preemption” of local legislation has not only involved several pieces of legislation in this session, it has provoked some backlash from business organizations and some media commentary. It’s not common that the issue of state-local relations becomes an active topic of political discussion, but it seems to be happening in Indiana this year.

Later this year, a book on this topic will be published by Rowman & Littlefield: Cooperation and Conflict between State and Local Government. I was pleased to contribute a chapter, but the main purpose of this blog post is to note that when we say that politics is about power, this is the sort of thing that we mean. The question isn’t only what policy positions you prefer or oppose regarding an issue – the question is also who gets to decide.