CWAG Roundup

February 5, 2015







CWAG Attorney General Sean Reyes of Utah wrote an op-ed piece recently regarding the crime of human trafficking. The following is an excerpt. Read the whole article in the attachment.  "The U.S. Justice Department estimates that each year in the U.S. as many as 300,000 American children are at risk of being trafficked for commercial sex. The Polaris Project, an organization combating all forms of human trafficking, reports that 41 percent of sex trafficking cases and 20 percent of labor trafficking cases in the United States referenced U.S. citizens as victims. In Utah, the 2002 abduction of Elizabeth Smart held our entire state engrossed in angst and fear for nine months until her miraculous return. But the horrors she suffered, including rape and abuse, are unfolding by the millions stateside and abroad. The U.S. State Department estimates that in 2014, more than 20 million victims were being trafficked. Such trafficking has already surpassed arms dealing and is second only to drug trafficking as the most profitable criminal enterprises worldwide."


CWAG Attorney General Mark Brnovich of Arizona announced that his office partnered with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) to close a fraudulent title loan shop in Phoenix. Six people have been convicted in connection to Garcia's and Associates LLC, including the company's owner, who remains at large. The business engaged in the systematic filing of false vehicle liens and foreclosure statements, which supported the criminal activities of human smugglers. The investigation led them to Garcia's and Associates LLC where business operators were catering to the needs of human smugglers by providing them with a reliable way to avoid having their vehicles forfeited by law enforcement after they had been discovered transporting humans or drugs that had been smuggled across the border. "We salute the keen observations made by federal agents in this case," said General Brnovich. "My office will continue working with HSI to aggressively combat all illegal activity happening at Arizona's borders."




CWAG Attorney General Cynthia Coffman of Colorado announced that the State Grand Jury has indicted eight individuals, including several high-ranking members of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club, for operating a drug trafficking ring in the Denver-metro area. More than two and a half pounds of methamphetamine with a street value of approximately $40,000 was seized. The defendants are accused of violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, as a result of various criminal activities including trafficking large quantities of methamphetamine, unlawful possession of firearms, money laundering, and conspiracy. "Under Duran's leadership, this group sourced its drug supply from a variety of wholesale distributors and then sold them throughout the Denver-metro area," said General Coffman. "Law enforcement agencies across Colorado again coordinated to interrupt a drug-trafficking operation run by the Bandidos Motorcycle Club which is well known for its use of violence and intimidation."





CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington announced a bill that would make the state the first to raise the legal age for purchasing and possessing tobacco and vapor products to 21. The harmful consequences of tobacco are clear. Smoking kills 8,300 Washingtonians every year, and $2.8 billion in health care costs are directly attributed to tobacco use in the state. Washington state taxpayers pay nearly $400 million in taxes to cover state government expenditures caused by smoking. According to a recent report by the U.S. Surgeon General, over 100,000 of today's Washington youth are projected to die prematurely due to the effects of smoking.  "The damage tobacco does to the lives and health of Washingtonians is  devastating," General Ferguson said. "Research shows the young adult brain, still developing between 18 and 21, is highly susceptible to nicotine addiction. We must do more to protect our youth from tobacco's grip, and this bill is an important step toward keeping nicotine out of the hands of kids and young adults."




Dropping oil prices aren't slowing a push from U.S. producers to ship their crude oil overseas and change a decades-long ban on exports. Backers see a changing landscape that includes a Congress controlled by Republicans generally viewed as more receptive to oil exports, and some signs the Obama administration will consider modifications to the longstanding policy that bans exports of raw crude. The ban is a relic of the 1970s, after an OPEC oil embargo led to fuel rationing, high prices and iconic images of long lines of cars waiting to fuel up. Supporters of exports, like the American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry's top lobbying arm, say those days are long gone. The group is running TV ads highlighting the growth of the U.S. shale oil industry as evidence that there's enough oil for both domestic and overseas markets. The organization lists overturning the ban as its top priority for 2015. Opponents make the opposite case: Exporting oil now would result in higher gas prices, they say, and prevent the U.S. from achieving a goal of energy independence. Those opposed to a change in policy include many domestic oil refiners, which stand to lose business if crude oil is exported.


A legal settlement reached by environmental groups, Wyoming regulators and the oil services giant Halliburton will make it harder for companies to withhold information from the public about the chemicals used in fracking. Environmentalists hailed the deal as a "groundbreaking reform," saying it will provide more information to the public about potentially harmful chemicals being used on frack jobs near homes, schools and businesses. State officials and industry representatives had argued the information should remain confidential. Companies would be put at competitive disadvantage relative to their competitors if the chemicals were disclosed publicly, they argued. Governor Matt Mead, in a statement, said the settlement was evidence of the state's commitment of balancing energy development with environmental protections. An industry representative characterized it as a minor change, one which would supplement Wyoming's current public disclosure law relating to fracking.




Idaho groundwater users affected by the recent Rangen water call will keep their water flowing for now. Judge Eric Wildman of the Snake River Basin Adjudication Court granted a stay on the massive curtailment order issued by Gary Spackman, director of the Idaho Department of Water Resources. Rangen owns senior water rights in the 157,000-acre curtailment area, which encompasses 14 cities, 200 livestock operations and many businesses and food processors. The company made a call on its water rights last June to recharge its diminished spring-water supply. Judge Wildman gave the Idaho Ground Water Appropriators (IGWA) until February 7 to deliver fresh water from Magic Springs through its nearly 2-mile pipeline to Rangen's fish hatchery near Hagerman.




Vermont lawmakers are considering whether to become the first state Legislature to legalize marijuana. Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational cannabis, but in each of those cases, it was voters at the ballot box, not lawmakers, who changed the law. Vermont could become the first state in history where elected officials directly legalize pot, and Governor Peter Shumlin said he "continues to support" efforts to legalize marijuana. Vermont's Constitution prohibits ballot referendums and initiatives, meaning any decision on marijuana would have to come directly from lawmakers. National momentum appears to be shifting toward marijuana legalization, and observers say Vermont or Rhode Island could be the next states to legalize. "A lot of legislators are just beginning to recognize that most of their constituents support ending marijuana prohibition," said Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project. "Colorado and Washington are proving that marijuana can be regulated and taxed like alcohol, and lawmakers around the country are taking notice."


The Colorado Department of Public Health released their first review of the public health effects of legalized marijuana.  Noting legalized retail marijuana presents a paradigm shift, grouping marijuana with other legal substances like alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs, as opposed to illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin, the Colorado legislature has mandated the CDPH undertake an effort to monitor the effects of marijuana on public health. Standard public health approaches to alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs is to monitor use patterns and behaviors, health care utilization and potential health impacts, and emerging scientific literature to guide the development of policies or consumer education strategies to prevent serious health consequences. This report presents initial efforts toward monitoring the changes in marijuana use patterns, potential health effects of marijuana use, and the most recent scientific findings associated with marijuana use to help facilitate evidence-based policy decisions and science-based public education campaigns. Full Report.




CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington has proposed legislation with bipartisan support to outlaw 'ticket bot' software used to inflate online ticket prices, often by four times or more their face value. Ticket bots, short for robots, are computer programs used by scalpers to buy large quantities of tickets online to popular concerts and sporting events. Bots often target the most desirable seats. Scalpers then sell those same tickets on a re-sale website minutes later at inflated prices. This process allows scalpers to control the secondary market, denying people access to ticket sales, forcing them to pay far more than face value and ensuring a hefty profit for the scalpers. "My office is dedicated to the principle that consumers deserve a fair deal," said General Ferguson. "Outlawing ticket bots will keep the hard-earned money of fans in their pockets, instead of fattening the wallets of scalpers who use electronic trickery to game the system." 








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.



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]