Read Messaging Overview

Communicating about preemption can be challenging as most people are unfamiliar with the word “preemption” and what it means. In general, avoid using the word “preemption,” instead focus on the harm that occurs when local governments lose their ability to protect the health of children, families, and communities—especially those most in need. If you do use “preemption”—such as when speaking with reporters, who tend to use it in their articles—quickly define it so people understand what it means.

The best way to communicate about preemption is to help people understand the consequences. To build support, begin by talking about the primary policy issue that may be preempted—being as specific as possible about how it will affect people’s lives—and end with an emphasis on local democracy.

Although people support local governments being able to pass their own laws, that can change if they don’t agree with the specific policy being addressed. Explaining how the policy at hand benefits children and families can garner more support.

Most people believe that government plays a role in creating healthier communities, and they trust local government the most to pass laws that address their community’s needs. Stress the importance, value, effectiveness, and accountability of local government.

Whether you choose to write an op-ed for your local newspaper, strike up a conversation at the grocery store with a neighbor, or speak at a community meeting, there are certain key messages you’ll want to include in your conversation to make your point most compelling. Make sure to include a variety of perspectives in your messages to fit with a specific audience such as community members, parents, and reporters. Taking the time to tailor your message to share a perspective that is important to each audience will help you create a broad coalition of support for combatting preemption efforts.

Before you start building your campaign, it’s important to map out your main objectives—what you want to achieve—and align them with the Key Messages below. Make sure to include potential solutions in all your communication efforts, so that key stakeholders have a clear vision of what you’re trying to accomplish and how they can help.

Overarching Message in Support of Local Governments Being Able to Pass Laws that Promote Health for Their Communities

This is the messaging thread that should connect all communications, no matter the policy objective.

Local governments are uniquely positioned to meet the needs of the people in their communities. They should be able to pass laws that are proven to promote good health, well-being, and equity.

Supporting Message Points

When you write and speak about your cause, here are some message points to highlight. Remember that there may be different audiences you’re trying to reach with your campaign. From decision makers to other community members, each message point should be written to match the perspective of that audience member, so that everyone feels empowered and encouraged to get involved! Even among decision makers, your messages will be different for state lawmakers compared to local lawmakers when discussing the topic of preemption. Finally, it’s important to understand your audience’s perspective on state and local government and that you’re aware of any preemption efforts in your state and/or community so that you are prepared to share relevant examples.

Value and Effectiveness of Local Government (Audiences: Community members, organizations working on issues that may be preempted, groups focused on health and well-being, social justice, and civil rights in communities of color)

Local governments are more connected to the people in their communities and more accountable to them. They understand the needs and values of their communities best.


When states block communities from passing their own laws, it can hurt the health and well-being of our families, friends, and neighbors.


Good ideas often start locally. For example, local governments were the first to pass indoor smoke-free laws, but the ability of local governments to pass these kinds of laws is now at risk. [USE A LOCAL EXAMPLE IF POSSIBLE]


When states block communities from passing their own laws it weakens local governments’ ability to innovate and enact laws that promote health and equity and improve people’s lives.


Proponents of states blocking local laws claim that a ‘patchwork’ of local laws throughout a state creates an unfair burden for businesses. But in reality, businesses are used to meeting different requirements under different local laws.

What works for [CITY/COUNTY] is not always what works for [TOWN/OTHER AREA OF THE STATE]. That is why local government exists—to create laws that most accurately reflect the unique views, values, and needs of the people who live there.

We want everyone to benefit from smart and effective policies. But when states block local governments from passing laws, it can hurt communities most where the need is greatest.


Role of State Government (Audiences: State lawmakers, community members that feel state government should set laws)

When talking to state lawmakers, thank them for what they’ve done to promote good health, but explain that it’s good for the state if local governments can take even stronger steps to further protect health and promote equity in their communities.

Here in [STATE], our state has taken many positive steps to improve the health of people across the state. We want to make sure cities, towns, and counties continue to have the option to build on this progress and pass laws to help their communities and local businesses thrive.