CWAG Roundup

April 9, 2015



Marijuana Webinar: On April 21, 2015, CWAG will convene a panel of experts to discuss the policy and legal implications of the recent USDOJ memo regarding the enforcement of federal marijuana laws in Indian Country. State, tribal and federal officials will address topics such as recommendations the federal government might make to tribes prior to implementing a medical or recreational marijuana program. The panel will also discuss how to address the potential conflicts between tribes and states with differing marijuana policies. This interactive one hour webinar will be available for CLE credit through CWAG's partner, WestLegalEd, from 11:00am -12:00pm Eastern Time. Register Now!


Energy Export Summit: On May 6, 2015, CWAG will be hosting a one day seminar on U.S. policies concerning the export of domestically produced energy to foreign markets. The seminar will be held at the Reserve Officers Association in Washington, DC. The draft agenda can be downloaded here. To register, please download this registration form and email to: [email protected]


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, Hawaii at The Grand Wailea Resort. Full meeting and registration details  available here. 


Download the CWAG Annual Meeting draft topic agenda now! Any questions can be directed to CWAG Meeting Planner Janine Knudsen at

 [email protected] or 916.704.1057




CWAG Attorney General Lawrence Wasden of Idaho announced an important legal victory handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in a lawsuit over Medicaid reimbursement rates paid to care providers. The Court reversed a decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a lawsuit between the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and five Medicaid care providers. General Wasden argued the case on behalf of the State. General Wasden argued that the lower courts erred in concluding that providers could sue the state to force higher Medicaid reimbursement rates. "I am pleased with the Supreme Court's review and having had the opportunity to present Idaho's case there," General Wasden said. "The State of Idaho has argued consistently that the Supremacy Clause does not create a private cause of action under the law for the providers to seek higher rates than those set by the Legislature."




CWAG Attorney General Hector Balderas of New Mexico is following through with a lawsuit against one of the nation's largest nursing home chains over claims of inadequate care. The state initially sued in 2014, alleging that the business' thin staffing made it impossible to provide good care. The suit targeted several nursing homes run by Preferred Care Partners Management Group, a privately held company with operations in at least 10 states. The lawsuit used a novel approach to outline its claims, relying on the number of hours it takes to complete basic tasks, from helping residents to the bathroom to feeding and bathing them. With too few nursing assistants, New Mexico alleged residents were not getting the care they needed and the state and federal government were being improperly billed. General Balderas stated: "We're dealing with trying to bring about reforms for one of the most abused and neglected populations in our society as well as systemic accountability in what is already a very abused taxpayer health care system. The first step in change is holding those accountable and I think this litigation will bring out not only the failures, but I'm optimistic it will identify solutions."


CWAG Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum of Oregon announced that ten organizations wrote letters or testified before the Subcommittee on Public Safety of the Oregon legislature's Committee on Ways and Means in support of funding for Oregon's first statewide Elder Abuse Resource Prosecutor. The position would be housed within the Oregon Department of Justice's Criminal Division. It would increase Oregon's capacity to stop elder financial and physical abuse by providing training, technical assistance and legal expertise to district attorneys, law enforcement and others who work with seniors. "Oregon has specific laws that criminalize the abuse, neglect and exploitation of older adults. However, these cases can be difficult to prosecute. Many involve the victimization of older adults by family members or others with whom they have an ongoing relationship. Victims may also be slow to recognize and report abuse, and reluctant to cooperate with criminal justice professionals," said General Rosenblum.




A group of Western governors has released a report on voluntary efforts in 11 states to conserve the habitat of sage grouse as part of an effort to avoid a federal listing of the bird under the federal Endangered Species Act. The "2014 Sage-Grouse Inventory" by the Western Governors' Association identifies conservation work during the year and is accompanied by a 101-page appendix listing efforts since 2011. "The states have certainly done all that has been asked of them and all that can be done to prove to the federal government that a listing is unnecessary," said Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, who has proposed ideas for protecting habitat that have been incorporated by federal planners. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has a Sept. 30 deadline to decide whether to propose the greater sage grouse as needing protections that could limit ranching as well as oil and gas drilling in the West. The Western Governors' Association said a listing will reduce voluntary conservation work and harm states' economies.




CWAG Attorney General Marty Jackley of South Dakota announced the United States District Court has granted the State of South Dakota's motion to dismiss in Trevarton et al. and Miller et al. v. State of South Dakota and the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks. The decision preserves sections of the Mickelson Trail located in Fall River County.  The plaintiffs alleged that portions of the Mickelson Trail located in Fall River County, originally owned by the Grand Island Railroad, had passed to private ownership. "Many volunteers and state workers have dedicated considerable resources and care in improving and maintaining the Mickelson Trail to provide miles of enjoyment for South Dakotans and our guests. This decision strikes an important balance in preserving our South Dakota treasure and respecting private property interests," said General Jackley.




California Governor Brown directed officials to impose unprecedented statewide mandatory water restrictions and expand programs intended to reshape how Californians use water. "We're in a new era; the idea of your nice little green grass getting water every day, that's going to be a thing of the past," Governor Brown said. The governor's order requires cities and towns to cut water use by 25 percent. So far in the current drought, many Californians have not made changes to their daily routines to save water or taken a hit in their wallets because of it. Early last year, Governor Brown called for a 20 percent voluntary cutback, but the state achieved just half of that.




CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington announced legal action against a student loan debt adjusting firm that exploited borrowers for financial gain. General Ferguson alleges that StudentLoanProcessing (SLP) and its president violated Washington's Debt Adjusting Act and Consumer Protection Act, including charging illegal fees for debt adjusting and failing to inform customers of important rights as required by law. The same services SLP offers are available at no cost through the U.S. Dept. of Education. "My office will aggressively crack down on those who prey on student loan borrowers, many of whom are already overburdened, for profit," General Ferguson said. "This firm charged exorbitant and illegal fees for services that student loan borrowers can obtain for free."




Former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto announced her bid to succeed Senator Harry Reid. "I'm running for the Senate to continue my work standing up for Nevada seniors, consumers, homeowners, women and children," Ms. Masto said." Masto would be the first Latina elected to the senate. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee endorsed Masto on Wednesday, calling her "the strongest candidate to keep this Senate seat in Democratic hands and continue Harry Reid's legacy of fighting for Nevada's best interests."

Former Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is serving as a Fellow at Harvard's Institute of Politics,where her focus has been on creating change in courts, legislation, and grass-roots politics. Coakley is also stepping in front of the camera as a legal analyst for WCVB, currently analyzing high profile cases in the Boston area. 


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]