Preemption of Municipal Ordinances by State Law


City of Gulf Shores v. Coyote Beach Sports, LLC, [Ms. SC-2023-0637; SC-2023-0839, Apr. 12, 2024] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2024). The Court (Sellers, J.; Parker, C.J., and Wise, Stewart and Cook, JJ., concur) reverses the Baldwin Circuit Court’s judgment declaring void (as preempted by state law) a Gulf Shores ordinance prohibiting rental of motor scooters to persons who do not possess a valid Class-M (motorcycle) license.

The Court explains that municipal ordinances are preempted by state law in three scenarios:

First, “[a] state statute may preempt a municipal ordinance expressly when the statute defines the extent to which its enactment preempts municipal ordinances.” Ex parte Tulley, 199 So. 3d 812, 821 (Ala. 2015). Second, a municipal ordinance may be preempted “when [it] attempts to regulate conduct in a field that the legislature intended the state law to exclusively occupy.” Id. Finally, a municipal ordinance may be preempted “when [it] permits what a state statute forbids or forbids what a statute permits.” Id.

Ms. **3-4. The Court holds that the ordinance is not preempted under “field preemption” because “[t]here is a distinct difference between the state’s requiring a license for a citizen to operate a motorcycle or motor-driven cycle in Alabama and a municipality’s adopting an ordinance to regulate the rental of motorcycles or motor-driven cycles within its jurisdiction.” Ms. *6. Likewise, conflict preemption does not apply because “there exists no statute specifically regulating, forbidding, or permitting the rental of motorcycles or motor-driven cycles.” Ms. *7.

Related documents