CWAG Roundup

March 31, 2016
Greetings! 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY:
 
MARIJUANA REGULATORY POLICY:  LESSONS FROM WESTERN STATES

CWAG Associate Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin of Rhode Island, in partnership with the Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG) and the Taubman Center for American Politics and Policy at Brown University, cordially invite you to participate in a forum entitled Marijuana Regulatory Policy: Lessons from Western States via video conference. 

The forum will take place Tuesday April 5, 2016 from 9:00am - 2:00pm Eastern Time and can be viewed online by following this link on the 5th.

To register to view this event online, please email Lauren Niehaus at LNiehaus@cwagweb.org.

SAVE THE DATE
 
CWAG Chair, Oregon Attorney General Ellen F. Rosenblum, announces that she will hold her CWAG Chair Initiative on May 24, 2016, in Portland, Oregon: STUDENT DEBT: THE OBLIGATION OF A LIFETIME? A registration packet is attached and an agenda is under development.
 
There is no greater category of consumer debt today than education-related debt. Even credit card debt has been surpassed by the 1.3 trillion dollars of outstanding debt owed by former students and their families today.
 
Never before have college students entered the workforce with such a staggering debt burden as they do today. This burden is crushing young people's hopes to move on in their lives in the ways many of us who went to school in a bygone era simply took for granted: getting married, starting a family, buying a car -- buying a home -- starting a business, etc. How ironic it is that, rather than improving young people's chances to advance in life, incurring significant debt in order to go to school may be having the opposite effect and stopping -- or at least slowing down-- this advancement.
 
What can we, as state Attorneys General, do to address and help resolve this crisis? After all, we do not want our families or the people we serve to be stuck with these student debt obligations for their entire lifetime. Right?
 
First and foremost, we can inform ourselves about it and discuss options and strategies that AG's can use to address it. That's what this conference will do. It will be worth your time -- I promise!
 
We play an important role in protecting consumers -- which includes students, and former students -- from misleading, unfair and deceptive practices. These practices may involve those who work for educational institutions as well as in the loan industry itself. In this context, they could involve debt servicing, debt consolidation, debt collection and loan underwriting. They might involve loan co-signers and issues pertaining to discharging a student loan through bankruptcy. Complaints relating to veterans being targeted by educational institutions for enrollment in programs that are not likely to lead to the jobs they are hoping for, but instead only to burdensome debt, will be discussed as well. I think we can all agree that our veterans, who may have put off their education in order to serve our country, deserve a very hard look at whether they have been treated deceptively and unfairly.
 
Please join me to help explore the problems that have brought us to this untenable situation. We will have speakers discussing all aspects of this issue of educational debt. They will describe the problem and offer constructive recommendations for best practices to be employed by educational institutions, the loan industry and government regulators.
 
Together, we can work toward helping to ensure that students and their families make wise and informed choices when deciding to take on educational debt; and that when the time comes to pay it back, the former student has graduated and is gainfully employed and prepared to repay his or her loans in amounts and on a schedule that works for everyone. Only then can we rest assured that education-related debt will NOT be the obligation of a lifetime!
 
Thanks for considering this important invitation. I hope to see you in Portland and I promise to show you a good time here in addition to putting on a fabulous conference.
 
Ellen F. Rosenblum
Attorney General
State of Oregon
Chair of CWAG
 
CWAG ANNUAL MEETING REGISTRATION NOW OPEN
 
The Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG), Oregon Attorney General and CWAG Chair Ellen Rosenblum along with Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden invite you to join your colleagues for the CWAG Annual Meeting, July 17-20, 2016 in Sun Valley, Idaho at the Sun Valley Resort.
 
Please note the important dates and information below:
 
To register online or download and print the registration information in a PDF form to register manually use the following link: https://www.cwagweb.org/sunvalley/registration
 
If you have attended an annual meeting in the past few years your contact information has been saved in the registration system. Please review your contact information during the registration process to make sure it is current.
 
To register, go to "Sign In" and enter the email address and password you or your assistant previously provided. If you can't recall your password, click on the "Forgot Password" link and your password will be sent to the email that is saved in the system.
 
If you have not previously registered for the annual meeting go to "New Registration", enter your email and create a personal password to be used for future registrations.
 
Early Bird Registration: The cutoff date for Early Bird registration is Friday, June 3, 2016 at 5:00p (PT). Your online registration must be finalized or your manual registration form received via fax or email to the CWAG office by 5:00p (PT) on June 3. All registrations received after this time and date will be charged the regular registration fee.
 
Onsite Registration: Pre-registering for primary attendees and guests who would like to attend any of the substantive or social opportunities is required. CWAG must make commitments to the hotel and activity vendors based on pre-registered guests prior to our arrival. The registration fees cover the cost of activities and meals at the conference which have been pre-arranged. Given the necessity of pre planning, we will not be accepting any onsite registrations.
 
Hotel Room Cut Cutoff: The last day to reserve your room within the CWAG room block is Thursday, June 23, 2016. If the room block sells out prior to that time, reservations will be accepted on a space available basis. The reservation number for the Sun Valley Resort is 800.786.8259. Ask for the CWAG room block to receive our discounted rates.
 
EDUCATION DEBT
 
CWAG Attorney General Kamala D. Harris of California announced that her office has obtained a $1.1 billion judgment against defunct Corinthian Colleges, Inc. (CCI) for their predatory and unlawful practices. While CCI filed for bankruptcy in May 2015, this judgment can help secure further relief for struggling students. Former Corinthian Students should visit the Attorney General's Interactive Tool for tailored information to help them locate needed resources and relief. "For years, Corinthian profited off the backs of poor people - now they have to pay. This judgment sends a clear message: there is a cost to this kind of predatory conduct," said General Harris. "My office will continue to do everything in our power to help these vulnerable students obtain all available relief, as they work to achieve their academic and professional goals." The complaint alleged that CCI intentionally targeted low-income, vulnerable Californians through deceptive and false advertisements and aggressive marketing campaigns that misrepresented job placement rates and school programs.
 
For-profit education company Education Management Corporation (EDMC) will significantly reform its recruiting and enrollment practices, and forgive approximately $183,865.00 in loans for approximately 181 former Hawaii students, through an agreement with CWAG Attorney General Doug Chin and a group of state attorneys general. EDMC, based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, operates 110 schools in 32 states and Canada through four education systems, including Argosy University, The Art Institute, Brown Mackie College and South University. The Hawaii agreement, through a consent judgment filed in state circuit court, mandates added disclosures to students, including a new interactive online financial disclosure tool; bars misrepresentations to prospective students; prohibits enrollment in unaccredited programs; and institutes an extended period when new students can withdraw with no financial obligation.  General Chin said "This civil enforcement action holds EDMC accountable for what we allege were unfair and deceptive recruitment and enrollment practices. EDMC's practices were unfair to Hawaii students. This agreement will provide relief for them through loan forgiveness and ensure that EDMC will make substantial changes to its business practices for future students."
 
States have taken the idea of the sex-offender registry and applied it to everything from kidnapping to animal abuse. Utah is expanding it into new territory: financial crime. An early version of the White Collar Crime Offender Registry, which has been online since February, includes more than 100 people convicted of tax, credit-card or insurance fraud; thefts from employers or friends; and bilking investors. The list makes Utah the most aggressive jurisdiction in the country when it comes to publicly shaming financial criminals. No other state operates such a list. The Securities and Exchange Commission often shields the identities of offenders. It could also create leverage to get felons to make their victims whole. Convicts who comply with court orders on time and pay restitution in full won't appear on the list. "That's the carrot," CWAG Attorney General Sean Reyes said.
  
MONEY LAUNDERING
 
CWAG Attorney General Hector Balderas of New Mexico announced that a judge assessed $605,000 in penalties against brothers Joe and Robert Chavez who ran a meth-trafficking operation between New Mexico and Arizona. Both were convicted at trial of felonies including racketeering, conspiracy, drug trafficking, and multiple counts each of money laundering. "We are attacking criminal enterprises and money laundering on all fronts in New Mexico, both criminal and civil," General Balderas said. "The Office of the Attorney General maintains an aggressive anti-money laundering initiative funded by the Southwest Border Alliance and we will continue to root out money laundering operations and associated crimes in our state."
 
PUBLIC LANDS
 
CWAG Attorney General Marty Jackley of South Dakota and the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy announced the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the U.S. District Courts decision allowing the South Dakota Game Fish and Parks continued possession and authority to manage the Mickelson Trail. "Many volunteers and state workers have dedicated considerable resources and care in improving and maintaining the Mickelson Trail to provide miles of recreational opportunity and 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. Plaintiffs' Complaint sought a declaration that portions of the Mickelson Trail located in Fall River County, originally held by the Grand Island Railroad, had passed to private ownership.
 
CRIMINAL LAW
 
Montana Solicitor General Dale Schowengerdt argued before the United States Supreme Court on Monday, March 28, in the case Betterman v. Montana. The central issue in the case is whether the Sixth Amendment's Speedy Trial Clause applies to the sentencing phase of a criminal prosecution.
"I'm proud of Dale and I know he has invested a tremendous amount of effort in preparing for his argument on an important constitutional question," CWAG Attorney General Tim Fox said. "This is the kind of situation for which it is difficult to over-prepare, given that you have eight justices who can bring a broad range of questions based on their unique backgrounds and experiences. An attorney presenting an oral argument must know the case inside and out, but must also anticipate and respond appropriately to tough questions."
 
DIGITAL CURRENCY
 
Depository Trust & Clearing Corp., a firm at the center of Wall Street's trading infrastructure, is about to give the technology behind bitcoin a big test: seeing whether it can be used to bolster the $2.6 trillion repo market. DTCC said in a statement that it will begin testing an application of blockchain, the digital ledger originally used to track ownership and payments of the cryptocurrency bitcoin, to help smooth over problems in the crucial but increasingly illiquid corner of short-term lending markets known as repurchase agreements, or "repos." Repos play a critical role in the financial system by keeping cash and securities circulating among hedge funds, investment banks and other financial firms. DTCC, an industry-owned utility that helps settle trades in the repo market and elsewhere, wants to apply blockchain technology to the market, so that lenders and borrowers can keep track of securities and cash flowing between firms in real time.
  
PUBLIC HEALTH
 
The Washington State House of Representatives approved a bill to reduce youth access to vapor products with a bipartisan vote of 74-20. The state Senate had previously passed the legislation - which combined multiple proposals, including agency request legislation from CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson and Governor Jay Inslee, as well as a bill introduced by Sen. Bruce Dammeier (R-Puyallup) - in a 37-6 vote. Senate Bill 6328 now heads to the Governor's desk, where it is expected to be signed into law. "This bill is an important step in protecting our kids from a largely unregulated industry," General Ferguson said upon passage in the Senate yesterday. "By increasing enforcement and labeling requirements, we increase public safety and empower consumers to make informed decisions on what they consume."
Chris Coppin
Legal Director
Conference of Western Attorneys General
1300 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
505-589-5101 (cell)
817-615-9335 (fax)
Chris.coppin@cwagweb.org

Conference of Western Attorneys General | 1300 I Street | Sacramento | CA | 95814