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CWAG Roundup

February 19, 2015





CWAG ANNOUNCES DETAILS FOR THE 2015 ANNUAL MEETING

 

The Conference of Western Attorneys General and CWAG Chair, Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden invite you to attend the CWAG Annual Meeting, July 19-22, 2015, in Wailea, Maui at The Grand Wailea Resort.   Click Here for important details and information.  Any questions can be directed to CWAG Meeting Planner Janine Knudsen at janine.knudsen@cwagweb.org or 916.704.1057.


 

PROTECTING PUBLIC HEALTH

 

CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington urged legislative action on bills to regulate vapor products and to raise the legal age for tobacco products to 21, citing new reports underscoring the danger of tobacco and other nicotine products. A report released in The New England Journal of Medicine suggests smoking is even worse for people's health than previously known. "Taken together, these studies demonstrate the urgent need to do more to curb the nicotine epidemic," General Ferguson said. "One of the ways we can do that is by moving tobacco and nicotine out of the pipeline that hooks new users in their teens, when their brains are unusually susceptible to nicotine addiction. The benefits of keeping nicotine out of the hands of teens are obvious. Ninety-five percent of adult smokers start before age 21, and the lifelong health complications and costs to both the individual and the taxpayer are enormous. I hope our Legislature reviews this new information very carefully as they consider a change in our legal smoking age and new restrictions on vapor products."

 

CWAG Attoney General Marty Jackley of South Dakota announced the latest success of the State's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) that has been online for three years. The voluntary participation by physicians and pharmacists continues to increase.  The PDMP affords physician and pharmacist the opportunity to voluntarily access the prescription repository in order to have available additional medical history. "The monitoring program demonstrates that prescription drug usage and the potential for abuse continues to be a concern in South Dakota," said General Jackley. "Pharmacists and physicians voluntarily participation is helping to prevent and reduce prescription abuses and enhance public health and safety." Only physicians that have a current patient relationship or new appointment scheduled may access the repository. Law enforcement does not have direct access to the repository and must go through an application process to receive access.

 

NEW INITIATIVES TO SERVE CHILDREN AND VETERANS

 

CWAG Attorney General Kamala D. Harris of California unveiled the Bureau of Children's Justice within the California Department of Justice. In the Bureau's first action, Attorney General Harris sent a letter to officials in all 58 counties in California, outlining their legal responsibilities with regard to foster youth and urging each county to evaluate their current enforcement and oversight policies and practices. The Bureau will enforce criminal and civil laws to hold those who prey on children accountable; work with a range of local, state, and national stakeholders to increase support for vulnerable children to prevent bad outcomes; and identify and pursue improvements to policies impacting children. "We simply cannot let down our most vulnerable children today, then lock them up tomorrow and act surprised," said General Harris. "The Bureau of Children's Justice will continue our smart on crime approach by addressing the root causes of crime, including our broken foster care system, and making certain that California's children receive full protection under the law and equal opportunities to succeed.  One of the Bureau's first orders of business will be to look at enforcement gaps in the foster care system and ensure that government agencies are held accountable to those entrusted in their care." 

 

CWAG Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt of Nevada, a former Navy Judge Advocate General, announced the formation of the Attorney General's Advisory Committee for the Office of Military Legal Assistance. This office will be the nation's first Attorney General led public-private partnership to give our military communities access to pro-bono civil legal services. General Laxalt has assembled an outstanding group of representatives from the various military communities and partners within Nevada's statewide legal community. Members of the committee include representatives from the various military components in the state, private law firms, Nevada's only law school, Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, state and county bar associations, a general counsel's office from a large Nevada corporation, a military support organization and the Nevada Justice Association. "In a recent survey conducted of current and former military personnel in Nevada, 61% of responders indicated that one of their top unmet needs was affordable legal services," said General Laxalt. "Most attorneys I speak with agree that we owe this to our military community, and are happy to have a vehicle to support such a great cause. The Attorney General's office is uniquely situated to spearhead this collective effort to bring these needs to the forefront of our legal community in the state."

 

HUMAN TRAFFICKING

 

The Utah House Law Enforcement Committee voted 9-0 to endorse HB252. HB 252 removes a current requirement for prosecutors to prove fraud or coercion for a conviction of human trafficking. The bill states a defendant is guilty if he or she "recruits, harbors, transports, or obtains a child for labor or sexual exploitation. CWAG Attorney General Sean Reyes supported the bill testifying, "Human trafficking has become the second-most lucrative criminal enterprise internationally surpassing arms and weapons dealing. It is now second only to drug trafficking." General Reyes added human traffickers perceive it to be low-risk and high profit, so it is important to sharpen and toughen laws "to protect our children and aggressively prosecute those who prey on the most vulnerable in our midst." He noted some Utah cases have involved scores of youth victims in both forced labor and the sex trade.

 

ENVIRONMENT

 

CWAG Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem of North Dakota announced a USEPA decision to affirm North Dakota's air quality protection plan for two North Dakota coal-powered electric generating plants. The EPA first approved North Dakota's plan in April 2012, but later reconsidered its decision in response to a request from the National Parks Conservation Association and Sierra Club. The EPA's decision this week affirms its earlier approval of the North Dakota Department of Health's best available retrofit technology (BART) determinations for Minnkota Power Cooperative's Milton R. Young Station and Basin Electric's Leland Olds Station. "During the EPA's reconsideration, North Dakota asked the EPA to respect Judge Hovland's ruling in the Minnkota Power case," General Stenehjem said. "I am pleased the EPA agreed to abide by the Court's decision."

 

CWAG Associate Attorney General Bill Schuette of Michigan submitted formal comments to the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers concerning the prevention of upstream movement by Asian carp and other harmful invasive species into the Chicago Area Waterway and the Great Lakes.  This was in response to the Corps' request for comments on this extension of its Great Lakes Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS). The Great Lakes Commission currently recommends "designing, engineering and constructing modifications to the Brandon Road lock and dam structure including electric barriers at the entrance and exit of the lock, use of fish deterrents, modifications to the gates on the dam, and other technologies." "We must do everything we can to protect the Great Lakes, and that begins with safeguarding our ecological and economic resources from invasive species like Asian carp," said General Schuette. "Michigan simply cannot afford to wait on a federal government that fails to act.  We need to permanently separate these two bodies of water as soon as possible and until that is done, take other actions to prevent Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.  The time for talk is over. We need action."


 

PROTECTING CONSUMERS

 

CWAG Attorney General Cynthia Coffman of Colorado announced that the Colorado Supreme Court on ordered a debt settlement company using the name World Law to cease certain operations in the state. Hundreds of Colorado consumers paid sizeable amounts to entities using the trade names World Law Direct, World Law Debt, World Law Group and World Law Processing. Consumers believed the entities would provide legal representation while settling their debts at a discount. The entities advertised through websites such as www.worldlawdebtassistance.com and www.worldlawdirect.com. Responding to a recommendation from the Presiding Disciplinary Judge, the Colorado Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction ordering the World Law entities to stop their unauthorized practice of law. Despite claiming to be associated with a law firm, World Law entities have used unsupervised paralegals to provide legal services, including drafting pleadings for customers to file in defense of collections proceedings.

 

CWAG Attorney General Mark Brnovich of Arizona announced that the Maricopa County Superior Court approved a Stipulated Consent Judgment against Phoenix- based Brother's Help Solutions (BHS) and its owner Nelson Molano. The company provides foreclosure consulting and loan modification assistance. The Consent Judgment found that BHS and Molano deceitfully required Spanish- speaking customers to sign a contract drafted entirely in English. The contract misrepresented the difficulty of loan modification application submissions, omitted facts related to the application process, and required up-front payment in violation of Arizona's Foreclosure Consultant Stature. The company also altered and cashed checks that were supposed to be paid to client's lenders. "My office fights to protect all consumers from fraud in our community," said General Brnovich. "If you have been a victim of deceitful businesses practices, we encourage you to bring that information to our attention."

 

ONLINE GAMING

 

Loretta Lynch, nominateded by President Barack Obama to become the nation's next attorney general, said that if she's confirmed she likely will not alter the Justice Department's landmark opinion that opened the door to legal online gambling for the first time. Online, casino-style gambling was thought to be illegal in the United States until 2011, when the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel said it was legal as long as it was done in-state and that Internet sports wagering was prohibited. In follow-up written answers to questions from her confirmation hearing, she stated, "If confirmed as Attorney General, I will review the Office of Legal Counsel opinion, which considered whether interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a sporting event or contest fall within the scope of the Wire Act. It is my understanding, however, that OLC opinions are rarely reconsidered. If confirmed, I will read the opinion and if it articulates a reasonable interpretation of the law, I would welcome the opportunity to work with you and other Members of Congress to address concerns about online gambling through legislation."

 

 

 

AMERICAN INDIAN LAW DESKBOOK, 2014 ed.

 

 

 

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

505-222-9175

505-660-5901 (cell)

505-222-9183 (fax)

CCoppin@cwagweb.org