Movement Building in Public Health

Preemption is a legislative or regulatory action by which higher levels of government (state or federal) eliminate or reduce the authority of lower levels of government over a specific subject.  The negative impact of federal or state preemption in tobacco control is well documented.  However, far less information is available on the potential impact of preemptive legislation on grassroots movement building in public health areas other than tobacco control. 

Preemption and local control are concerns that arise in numerous public health arenas, including food safety, violence prevention, alcohol policy, pesticide regulation, tobacco control, nutrition, and drug policy.  The loss of local (or state) control under preemptive legislation can have unforeseen consequences that extend beyond the immediate impact of the legislation itself.   To be effective decision makers, members of the public health community need ready access to balanced information on the role of grassroots movements in promoting health and the effect of preemption on such movements.

Preemption and Movement Building in Public Health is a two-year project of the Public Health Law Center at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Mark Pertschuk, an attorney with expertise on policy strategy and grassroots movement building, is the Project Director and Maggie Mahoney, an attorney with the Public Health Law Center, serves as Co-Project Director.  Support for Preemption and Movement Building in Public Health is provided by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

Under this grant the Public Health Law Center researches grassroots movements and preemption in public health fields such as alcohol and food safety, and develops presentations, articles, case studies, tools and resources to aid the public health community.  We also provide news and background information on federal and state preemption legislation, and related issues, in public health, on our soon-to-be-launched website, Preemption and Movement Building in Public Health.