by Jon Bailey, firstname.lastname@example.org
Many political and social commentators have written that the political debate in the United States is not really between democrats and republicans or between liberals and conservatives, but rather between localists and globalists. This debate can be seen in numerous issues – Wal-Mart vs. local retailers, trade agreements, and agriculture.
This debate is also rearing its head in several bills in the Nebraska Legislature that seek to restrict or preempt local control in favor of control or regulation at the state level. The debates over school consolidation and the control by local people over school restructuring resurface almost annually (as they will this year). This year the Legislature is dabbling in new ways to restrict local authority, primarily in agriculture and environmental regulation.
LB 834 is a perfect example. It would preempt counties and municipalities from regulating the registration, labeling, and sale (thus the planting) of crop seed. It is a reaction to efforts in other states (notably California) of local governments prohibiting the sale or planting of GMO seed within the boundaries of the county or municipality. LB 834 is apparently part of a state-by-state effort by some corporations to head off such local regulations.
Putting aside the GMO debate and the fact no local regulation prohibiting the sale or planting of any sort of seed has been proposed in any municipality or county of Nebraska, LB 834 is really about removing the power of the citizenry within a geographic area to influence and decide issues related to the life and economy of that area. The Legislature should be careful in creating precedent of preempting local authority. Taking away the authority of local people and officials to act and centralizing that authority in the hands of a higher level of government has potential serious consequences.
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Center for Rural Affairs
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