CWAG Weekly Roundup

November 18, 2014

Upcoming Events: 

November 20, 2014 - 3:00pm ET

AILD Webinar produced by WestLegalEd to discuss the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community 


Join Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, Candy Tierney, the Tribal Attorney for the Bay Mills Indian Community, Lou Reinwasser who worked on the case for the State of Michigan, Jackie Schafer from the Alaska Attorney General's Office and the Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG) for the first Indian law Webinar to discuss the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community. 









CWAG Attorney General Tim Fox of Montana submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding proposed rules that would dramatically expand their regulatory authority over all waters in any way connected to navigable waters. "The referenced rule-making proposal exceeds your agencies' rule-making authority, with the effect of impinging improperly on our State's sovereignty," General Fox told EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Army Secretary John McHugh. "Through our state constitution, our 1971 Water Quality Control Act, and subsequent legislation, Montana has established strong water protections tailored to the unique needs of our communities," General Fox added. "The EPA's latest attempt at a power-grab is not only unnecessary and quite possibly unconstitutional, but also detrimental to how our agricultural community works with the land, and how our local governments build and maintain the vital infrastructure upon which we all rely every day."




North Dakota plans to take steps to ensure crude oil pumped from the state's Bakken Shale oil producing region is safe enough to be loaded into railroad tank cars and sent across the country. In the first major move by regulators to address the role of gaseous, volatile crude in railroad accidents, the North Dakota Industrial Commission, which regulates energy production in the state, said it would require Bakken Shale well operators to strip gases from crudes that show high vapor pressures. "We believe the vast majority of our Bakken oil will fall well below the standard," Lynn Helms, director of the state's Department of Mineral Resources, said at a news conference. The proposed state rule will require all operators to run crude oil through equipment that heats up the crude and forces out gases from the liquid. An estimated 15% of current producers without such equipment will have to submit quarterly test results showing their wells don't exceed the state's proposed 13.7 pounds a square inch vapor pressure limit, Mr. Helms said. CWAG Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem is a member of the North Dakota Industrial Commission.




CWAG Associate Attorney General Pam Bondi of Florida announced the arrests of 13 individuals involved in a drug trafficking conspiracy that spanned decades in South Florida. The Collier County Sheriff's Office initiated the investigation, during which detectives seized or purchased more than 13 kilograms of cocaine, with a street value of $442,000. The defendants allegedly conspired to traffic approximately 30 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of approximately $1.02 million. "We, along with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Collier County Sheriff's Office, have brought down this large-scale drug trafficking ring that has funneled drugs onto South Florida streets for years. My Office of Statewide Prosecution will aggressively prosecute these defendants," stated General Bondi.




CWAG Attorney General Kamala D. Harris of California released the second annual report detailing the 167 data breaches reported to the Attorney General's office in 2013 that impacted18.5 million Californians by putting their personal information at risk. The report is accompanied by recommendations from the Attorney General for consumers, businesses and lawmakers on how to protect against data breaches and prevent them in the future. "Data breaches pose a serious threat to the privacy, finances and personal security of California consumers," General Harris said. "The fight against these kinds of cybercrimes requires the use of innovative strategies by government and the private sector to protect our state's consumers and businesses. I strongly encourage more use of encryption to significantly reduce the risk of data breaches." In 2013, the number of reported data breaches increased by 28 percent, from 131 in 2012 to 167 in 201. The number of Californians' whose records were affected increased by over 600 percent, from 2.5 million in 2012 to 18.5 million in 2013. This increase was largely due to two massive retailer breaches at Target and LivingSocial, each of which put the personal information of approximately 7.5 million Californians at risk.


CWAG Attorney General John Suthers of Colorado announced civil law enforcement actions against three additional Colorado foreclosure law firms. The firms are accused of allegedly inflating foreclosure costs charged to homeowners and others and charged with violations of the Colorado Consumer Protection Act and the Colorado Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. "We continue to uncover improper and deceptive billing practices by foreclosure law firms operating in Colorado," said General Suthers.  "These inflated costs were passed on to homeowners trying to save their homes from foreclosure, successful bidders for properties at foreclosure sales, and to investors and taxpayers."


CWAG Associate Attorney General Dustin McDaniel of Arkansas filed a consumer-protection lawsuit against a Pulaski County woman accused of deceptively advertising "notaria" services and selling ID cards improperly described as legal forms of identification. The lawsuit claims the defendant is in violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act and the Arkansas Notario Act for unlawful business practices primarily targeting Spanish-speaking consumers. "Many of those who promote themselves as notarios exploit the trust of consumers who believe them to be licensed attorneys who can assist with immigration services," General McDaniel said. "In Arkansas and across the country, consumers have lost both their money and their opportunity for aid because they've fallen victim to notario schemes. Others have bought useless ID cards that are not legally recognized. These actions are unacceptable in the consumer marketplace."




CWAG Associate Attorney General Roy Cooper of North Carolina has asked the state to equip all public school buses in the state with cameras that would photograph the license plates of any drivers who illegally passes a stopped school bus. General General asked a special task force established to promote children's safety to examine the technology and recommend the best way to implement it on North Carolina school buses. "Careless drivers are putting students' safety at risk when they fail to stop for school buses," General Cooper said.  "Adding cameras and issuing automatic citations will help stop law breakers who put students' lives and safety at risk, and it can also pay for itself." A one-day survey at the beginning of this school year found that 3,153 vehicles passed stopped school buses in North Carolina, more than double the number of violators in 2000. Three North Carolina students have been injured in recent weeks while boarding school buses when drivers passed them illegally, and another NC student was killed while waiting for his school bus.


CWAG Associate Attorney General William H. Sorrell of Vermont, with the support of a number of interested groups, asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont to uphold Act 120, Vermont's law requiring the labeling of genetically engineered ("GE") food. The Office also opposed Plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction. The filing reiterates the State's case that the Court should dismiss the lawsuit. It also argues that Plaintiffs are not entitled to an order enjoining the State from taking any action to enforce the law, which does not go into effect for nearly two years. "The State's filing explains why Vermont's labeling law is constitutionally sound," said General Sorrell. "Vermonters want GE foods to be labeled, and our lawmakers have determined that food producers should provide that information," he added.


A new government study indicates a sharp rise in the use of electronic cigarettes by adolescents, a trend officials at the Centers for Disease Control said they found alarming due to the possible adverse effects of nicotine on the developing brain. The percentage of high-school students who said they had used an e-cigarette within the last 30 days jumped to 4.5% in a 2013 CDC survey, up from 2.8% in 2012. The rate among middle-school students was flat at 1.1%. The percentage of high-school students who had ever tried e-cigs for the first time rose to nearly 12% from 10%. Among middle-school students it rose to 3% from 2.7%. The findings come from the CDC's National Youth Tobacco Survey, a questionnaire given annually to roughly 20,000 students. By contrast, cigarette and cigar use among the age groups declined slightly, according to the study. Overall tobacco use among youth was roughly flat compared with last year at around 23% for high-school students and 6.5% for middle school students.


The U.S. cigarette industry is slowly declining as the negative health consequences of smoking become common knowledge. Despite onerous taxes and advertising restrictions, selling cigarettes and other tobacco products in the U.S. is highly profitable. Altria has recorded about $24 billion in sales and $4.3 billion in profits over the last 12 months. Altria stock is up almost 40% over the last year, more than twice the gain of the S&P 500. In the coming years, Altria may be able to tap into the growing U.S. marijuana market. The similarities between marijuana and tobacco are many. Both products are smoked and consumed repeatedly. Marijuana is not physically addictive like tobacco is, but marijuana is psychologically addictive. It also carries a cool vibe in many subsets of society that cigarettes no longer do. The primary reason Altria has not moved into the marijuana market is because marijuana is still illegal on a federal level in the U.S. Despite this, four states have legalized marijuana for both legal and recreational use: Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.







CWAG is proud to announce the recent release of our latest book,  American Indian Law Deskbook.


Indian law is a dynamic, ever-evolving field of law that overlaps other areas of the law as tribes expand their economic and political reach in our society. If a lawyer needs a concise, direct and easy to understand handbook on Indian law, the American Indian Law Deskbook meets that need. As the chief legal officers of the States, the State Attorneys General offer a unique insight into Indian law. The States have been parties to many of the cases that have shaped Indian law over the years before the United States Supreme Court and the lower courts. Beginning in 1988, the Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG) saw the need not only to develop a treatise that reflected the current status of Indian law, but also to create a framework adaptable to new developments - decisional or statutory - on a frequent basis. The chapter authors of this book are experienced state lawyers who have been involved in Indian law for many years.


Order and Save 20%! To order, CLICK HERE.  Enter promo code WPD20 at checkout and discount will be applied.  Discount available for this book only. Expires 12.31.14.

Chris Coppin

Legal Director

Conference of Western Attorneys General

111 Lomas, NW   Suite 300

Albuquerque, New Mexico 87102


505-660-5901 (cell)

505-222-9183 (fax)

[email protected]

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