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
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.
CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington announced favorable resolutions for Washington consumers with six student loan debt adjustors that overcharged Washington state students and collected unlawful fees. General Ferguson also obtained a default judgment against a seventh student loan debt adjustor for the same type of unfair and deceptive actions. The six loan adjustors will pay a total of $162,000 to refund Washington students for illegal charges and an additional $56,000 for the Attorney General's costs and attorney's fees, as well as monitoring and future enforcement of the Consumer Protection Act. "Students graduate from Washington colleges with an average of nearly $25,000 in debt," General Ferguson said. "These firms preyed on students who sought their help. I will not tolerate the financial abuse of Washington students overburdened with debt."
CWAG Attorney General Hector Balderas of New Mexico, eleven other attorneys general and the Consumer Protection Commissioner of Hawaii sent a letter to Department of Education Secretary John King urging the federal government to cease recognition of Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) as an accrediting body for post-secondary institutions. The letter outlines a few examples of ACICS's failure to maintain accountability for the institutions to which it extends accreditation. "Shutting down ACICS will help protect New Mexico students from the indefensible tactics of predatory, for-profit schools who saddle our students with unnecessary debt and in some cases leave them with worthless degrees," General Balderas said. "My office will continue to hold corporations accountable when they employ unfair tactics and prey on New Mexicans' desires to build better lives for their families."
FIGHTING INTERNATIONAL CRIME
CWAG Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman of Colorado and prosecutors from the Colorado Department of Law continue to combat crime traveling into our state by way of Colorado's interstate highways. General Coffman recently attended the International Border Conference in Phoenix to work with her counterparts to address human and drug trafficking and money laundering on both sides of the border. More international criminals are looking to Colorado to use the legalization of marijuana as a cover for other criminal activity. With Colorado being the closest state to Mexico with legalized marijuana, General Coffman is working to ensure that Colorado is a leader in the cooperative efforts between the two countries to put an end to these illegal enterprises. "Cooperation and coordination among attorneys general from Mexico and the western United States is key to stopping sex and labor trafficking at the country's borders," said General Coffman. "We know that money from criminal enterprises, including human trafficking and drug smuggling, is being laundered on both sides of the border. Sharing intelligence about the illegal money flow between our countries makes it much harder for criminals to hide their activity."
Solar energy records are falling left and right in California these days, as the state steams ahead toward its ambitious renewable energy goals. But the success of solar has brought about a hidden downside: on some perfectly sunny days, solar farms are being told to turn off. That's because in the spring and fall, when Californians aren't using much air conditioning and demand for electricity is low, the surge of midday solar power is more than the state can use. It's becoming a growing concern for those running the grid at the California Independent System Operator. At their Folsom headquarters, a team continually manages the power supply for most of the state, keeping the lights on for some 30 million people. "It's constantly solving a constant problem, meaning you're always trying to balance," says Nancy Traweek, who directs system operations for the grid. "All of a sudden you have a major cloud that comes over a solar field," Traweek says, and that causes the solar power to drop off. "That [power] needs to come from somewhere else immediately," she says. So grid operators have to keep the natural gas plants running in the background. If they're turned off, many take four to eight hours start up again.
FIGHTING ILLEGAL DRUGS
CWAG Associate Attorney General Karl A. Racine of the District of Columbia thanked the D.C. Council for their unanimous passage of legislation creating one of the nation's most comprehensive synthetic drug statutes. The Office of the Attorney General introduced the Synthetics Abatement and Full Enforcement Drug Control Act ("SAFE DC") last fall, incorporating best practices in enforcement from multiple jurisdictions around the nation. "I want to thank the Councilmembers for their unanimous support of this important legislation, which Judiciary Committee Chairman Kenyan McDuffie moved on our behalf," General Racine said. "This bill will help the District lead the way in fighting these dangerous drugs, which can induce immediate, psychotic and deadly reactions. Today's legislation makes it easier for law enforcement officials to get these drugs off our streets."
FIGHTING PUBLIC CORRUPTION
CWAG Attorney General Doug Chin of Hawaii announced that a Hawaii Island grand jury indicted Hawaii County Mayor William P. Kenoi for two counts of felony theft, two additional counts of misdemeanor theft, three counts of tampering with a government record and one count of false swearing. The charges arose from alleged conduct taking place from 2011 through 2015 while Mayor Kenoi was in office. The felony theft charges are each punishable by up to five years behind bars and a $10,000 fine. General Chin said "The Department of the Attorney General sought this indictment after an intensive investigation that lasted almost a year. I thank the investigators and prosecutors for their efforts."
GENERAL RUTLEDGE HOSTS YOUTH SUMMIT
CWAG Associate Attorney General Leslie Rutledge of Arkansas hosted a Youth Summit for seventh through 12th graders, raising awareness of dating violence. The summit comes after General Rutledge hosted five Break the Cycle trainings across the State for educators who were taught the foundational knowledge about dating abuse and methods for intervention. This year's Youth Summit is the largest ever Attorney General sponsored event, with more than 2,100 students attending. "Raising awareness of dating violence is a major priority of mine," said General Rutledge. "This interactive and informative event's message was directed to junior high and high school students to help them understand the dangers and consequences of dating violence and how to have healthy relationships."