REGISTRATION OPEN FOR CWAG WINTER DINNER
CWAG announces the opening of registration for "Dinner with the Attorneys General," set for Tuesday, December 1, 2015, at The Mills House in Charleston, South Carolina. We invite your participation in this Endowment Dinner benefiting the programs and goals of CWAG. Attached please find the sponsorship and registration information. This engaging dinner includes participation by approximately 25-30 Attorneys General and their top staff from across the country. We hope your schedule will allow you to attend this year's event and participate in this premier opportunity for exchanging views and forging relationships. Please contact CWAG Meeting Manager, Janine Knudsen, at 916.704.1057 or [email protected]
with any questions or to confirm your participation.
FORMER CALIFORNIA SPECIAL ASSISTANT JEFFREY TSAI TAKES NEW JOB
Former state and federal prosecutor Jeffrey Tsai has joined Alston & Bird, where he will lead the firm's attorneys general practice from bases in East Palo Alto and Los Angeles. Mr. Tsai will also head Alston & Bird's West Coast white-collar practice, the firm announced. "By formalizing this practice, the firm is saying both in word and in deed, we're making a commitment to bring this service to our clients in a focused way," Tsai said. Clients "are not looking for just one person or a half a person in this field, they're looking for an entire team."
CWAG Attorney General Marty Jackley of South Dakota will deliver the keynote address at the 8th Annual Alcohol Law and Policy Conference hosted by the Center for Alcohol Policy on in Chicago, Illinois. The conference will focus on better understanding the role of state attorneys general in policy debates over alcohol. The annual conference attendees include experts in the field such as state regulators, attorneys general, legislators, public health leaders, educators and industry official to discuss and debate current law and policies. "This is a great opportunity to focus on the role of the State Attorneys General and the importance of polices that safeguard against the abuse of alcohol. I intend to highlight the success of South Dakota's 24/7 Sobriety Program to cost-effectively addressing addiction. It is also important to recognize the strong efforts of the Center for Alcohol Policy in working with law enforcement to safeguard against the abuse of alcohol," said General Jackley.
CWAG Attorney General Tim Fox of Montana announced the availability of $44,850 in Chrome for Kids Wish Fund grants. These funds are made available through a special Chrome for Kids motorcycle license plate that is used to fund efforts by Montana-based nonprofit corporations which grant wishes to chronically or critically ill Montana children. "We're pleased to once again offer grant funds so families of seriously ill children can receive some assistance, thanks to generous Montana motorcycle owners who purchased these special license plates," said General Fox. "I invite all eligible Montana non-profits that focus on the needs of seriously ill children to apply, in the hope of helping these families in ways that are meaningful to them."
CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington announced that the Washington State Supreme Court ruled that that a lawsuit brought by three young women who were sold for sex on Backpage.com can proceed against the company. The ruling adopts the approach advocated by the Attorney General's Office in an amicus, or "friend of the court," brief. "Today's decision is an important victory in the long-running fight to combat sex trafficking of minors," said General Ferguson. "Our office has been a national leader on this issue for many years and will continue to stand up for victims." The three underage plaintiffs allege that the website features paid advertising for prostitutes and children forced into prostitution and materially contributed to at least some of the content that was posted, effectively helping promote victimization of children.
Federal District Court Judge Ralph Erickson clarified the scope of the preliminary injunction issued in a case challenging EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers' "Waters of the United States" Rule. CWAG Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem of North Dakota, with 12 other states, had requested that preliminary injunction apply nationwide. The order states that EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers are only prohibited from applying their rule in North Dakota and the other states that are plaintiffs in the case. "Although the WOTUS rule will unfortunately be effective in other states, North Dakotans will continue to be protected during the legal challenge, as will the citizens of the twelve other states that joined our lawsuit," said General Stenehjem. "I remain confident that, at the end of the ligation, this widely unpopular rule will be declared unlawful and unenforceable nationwide."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Bill Schuette of Michigan signed an agreement with Enbridge Partners, L.P. permanently banning heavy crude oil from moving through the Line 5 pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac. This agreement formally implements the first recommendation of the Michigan Petroleum Pipeline Task Force Report released in July to ban heavy crude oil in Line 5. "This agreement reflects the shared DNA that we in Michigan have with our Great Lakes," said General Schuette. "This prohibits heavy crude oil from flowing under the deep waters of the Straits of Mackinac." As outlined in the Task Force Report, the U.S. Coast Guard has publicly acknowledged that it does not have the capabilities to properly remediate a spill of heavy crude oil should it occur in the Mackinac Straits.
CWAG Associate Attorney General William H. Sorrell of Vermont and a number of supporting states have asked the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York City to affirm a decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont upholding Act 120, Vermont's law requiring the labeling of foods produced with genetic engineering ("GE"). In a brief filed last week, the State contends that the Grocery Manufacturers Association is not entitled to an order enjoining enforcement of the law, which does not go into effect for nearly a year. "We believe the federal appeals court should uphold the trial court's decision that our GE labeling requirement is constitutional," said General Sorrell. "I much appreciate the broad support we have received at the Second Circuit from other states, businesses and organizations in favor of our efforts, which reflects the national importance of successfully defending our labeling law."
FIGHTING SEXUAL ASSAULT
CWAG Associate Attorney General Pam Bondi of Florida committed broad support for testing Florida's unprocessed sexual assault kits. There is estimated to be thousands of untested sexual assault kits in Florida, holding key DNA evidence that could help law enforcement solve and prevent violent crimes in Florida and across the country. "As a career prosecutor I have seen first-hand the heartache and devastation caused by sexual predators. I have also seen the power of DNA evidence in bringing these predators to justice and helping the victims of these heinous crimes heal. Hidden in the estimated thousands of untested kits is the potential to solve cold cases, lock up sexual predators and make Florida a safer place to live and raise a family," said General Bondi. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement, in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies, is currently conducting a statewide assessment of unprocessed sexual assault kits to identify how many kits across the state have not been processed.
CWAG Associate Attorney General Maura Healey of Massachusetts led the filing of a multistate amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to recognize the harm that consumers suffer when inaccurate information about them is disseminated by businesses and relied upon in making decisions that affect their lives. The amicus brief in support of the respondent in Spokeo v. Robins, was joined by 12 other states and the District of Columbia. The underlying case alleges Spokeo, a people search engine website, willfully violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) by failing to maintain procedures to ensure the accuracy of personal data collected and subsequently shared about the respondent, causing him to lose valuable job opportunities. "We live in a data-driven economy, where our personal data is routinely collected, bought, and sold without our knowledge," General Healey said. "This data is often used as the basis for giving someone housing, insurance, a line of credit, or a job. Individuals should not be penalized or lose out on these opportunities because inaccurate information about them has been disseminated."
The Advisory Committee For Aviation Consumer Protections made several suggestions related to the travel industry, namely regarding airline and hotel fees. When it came to recommendations for the airline industry, the panel determined that carriers should clearly disclose the cost of change and cancellation fees, as well as the size of a plane's seats before the purchase of a ticket is made. The recommendations - which will form the basis for a report to Department of Transportation's on improvements to be made for existing consumer protection programs - came after the panel heard testimony from passengers about the difficulty they encounter when trying to find information about change or cancellation fees on airlines' websites and their claims that airlines hid fee information in the fine print of tickets.