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.
As students prepare to enroll in college this year and take out loans to pay for higher education, CWAG Attorney General Kamala D. Harris of California issued the following tips, encouraging Californians to know all the facts-and avoid potentially harmful scams-before taking on or paying off substantial student loans. In advance of enrolling in a college or university, students should thoroughly research the types of financial aid they may qualify for and determine which loans, scholarships, grants, or work-study programs would be most beneficial to their personal situation. Student borrowers should be aware of factors that may impact their ability to repay student loans, such as changing the status of student enrollment, future job prospects, the amount of interest accruing on loans, and any loan prepayment penalties.
IMPROVING THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
CWAG Associate Attorney General Brad Schimel of Wisconsin announced the launch of the Wisconsin Department of Justice's online data dashboards, the first step in replacing an outdated website and making criminal justice data more accessible to the public. "Good government relies on transparency and openness and I'm excited to give our partners in law enforcement, members of the media, and all Wisconsinites a new window into our state's crime data," General Schimel said. "This is the first step in an ongoing DOJ initiative to provide crime data to the public in an easily-digestible and user-friendly manner. We welcome comments, suggestions, and feedback on these new dashboards so we can continue to improve the services we provide to the community."
CWAG Attorney General Tim Fox of Montana says the state needs to do more to fight violent crime. General Fox said crime statistics show there are five aggravated assaults a day, a rape every 23 hours and a homicide every 14 days in Montana. "There are lives behind these statistics. We're committed to ensuring the needs of crime victims are met," he said. "We simply can't allow this to happen. Too much is at stake in our communities." Office of Consumer Protection and Victims Services director Matthew Dale said more needs to be done to support victims of crime. One proposed program would notify victims of changes in the status of convicts in the criminal justice system, such as a release from custody or posting of bail. It would also notify them of any court hearings. The attorney general said the state law enforcement academy has put more focus on training officers to be better at conducting interviews with victims and assuring them that their reports are being taken seriously. "Those people are then more apt to self-report and be willing to press charges and enter the justice system," General Fox said.
FIGHTING DRUG ADDICTION
CWAG Attorney General Marty Jackley of South Dakota confirmed a heroin overdose has taken the life of Nathan Herman, 34. "The national heroin epidemic is impacting South Dakota. The addiction to heroin is devastating and we must be vigilant in keeping this deadly drug out of our State," said General Jackley. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Herman family during this difficult time." The addiction to heroin commonly begins with prescription opiate abuse. Both heroin and opiate addiction impacts the lives of so many individuals. Every single economic level is at risk and it does not target a particular gender or specific age group. "The time to act is now and we cannot wait to see a further increase in arrests or overdoses to implement a public awareness campaign to include both methamphetamine and heroin. South Dakota suffered 42 accidental drug overdose deaths in 2014, several of which heroin was a contributing factor. An effective awareness campaign must include a collective effort from community service groups, law enforcement, the school system, parents and the private sector. We are working with stakeholders to develop a cost-effective outreach campaign," added General Jackley.
CWAG Attorney General Hector Balderas of New Mexico sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell urging the federal government to require methadone clinics to register, to query and to fully use Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs. New Mexico prescribers need to know if patients are getting narcotics from other health providers in order to screen out drug seekers and refer them to substance abuse treatment instead of giving them more opioids or benzodiazepines. New Mexico has some of the highest rates of opioid addiction and abuse in the nation. "Opioid addiction is devastating children, families and communities around New Mexico so we must work to together to ensure doctors and prescribers have the right information to prevent abuse," said General Balderas. "The federal government must act so doctors can screen out drug seekers and get those struggling with addiction the treatment they need."
FIGHTING SEXUAL ASSAULT
CWAG Associate Attorney General Bill Schuette of Michigan announced the conviction of Alan Donnell Broadnax of Detroit, on one count Criminal Sexual Conduct-First Degree for a 2008 rape. This case involves one of the over 10,000 sexual assault kits (SAK) that were left untested for years in a Detroit Police warehouse. It was the first case the Attorney General's office has received as a result of the Wayne County Sexual Assault Kit Task Force. "This conviction is long overdue and much deserved justice for the victim in this case," said General Schuette. "I will continue to work with Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, and county prosecutors across the state until we have held these criminals who believe they have gotten away with a crime accountable for their actions."
As a result of comments made by CWAG Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt of Nevada, and others, the EPA has removed a paragraph from newly-proposed automotive emissions regulations that critics complained would make it illegal to modify the pollution controls of street legal cars to convert them into race cars. The language was included in a rules package primarily aimed at regulating medium and heavy duty truck emissions. The letter General Laxalt sent details concerns over the EPA's proposed requirement that certified motor vehicles, engines and emission control devices remain in their factory-certified configuration. The rule would now apply to vehicles used exclusively for competition and non-road purposes. The letter shows how Congress never intended to regulate competitive racing vehicles when passing the Clean Air Act in 1970. "In Nevada, Sparks is home to one of the three world's largest retailer of performance racing parts, and in 2014, consumers spent a total of $36 billion nationwide on automotive specialty equipment parts and accessories. I am pleased that the EPA heard the concerns of attorneys general across the country and recognized the impact this rule would have had on stock car and drag racing in Nevada and other states," said General Laxalt.
CWAG Associate Attorneys General Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma and Doug Peterson of Nebraska are trying a new tactic in their fight to have Colorado's legalization of recreational use of marijuana overturned. They are asking the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to allow them to join a court case that may decide whether federal law against marijuana pre-empts Colorado's legalization. Opponents of legalized marijuana are pursuing that case at the Denver-based appeals court. The appeal seeks to overturn a lower court decision. It concluded the opponents had no right to sue on their claim that federal law preempts Colorado's legalization. "Because the people of Nebraska and Oklahoma have determined the marijuana is harmful and should be illegal, Nebraska and Oklahoma have a duty to protect their citizens from the continuing harms resulting from Colorado's illegal activities," the attorneys general wrote in the motion.
When the $18 billion global food giant General Mills started targeting Denver cannabis consumers with ads for a line of frozen snacks recently, local marijuana professionals took notice. One executive even snapped a photo of a large billboard that promotes the snacks - Totino's Pizza Rolls - by referencing the 4/20 cannabis holiday. "I caught one on Colfax Avenue, so I took a picture of it and said, 'It looks like we've really gone mainstream with this Totino's Pizza Roll billboard,'" Joe Hodas, the chief marketing officer at infused products maker Dixie Brands, told Marijuana Business Daily. The bold advertising move, which includes billboards and ads on buses that include slogans such as "Stock Up B4/20," is both promising and frustrating for those in the marijuana industry.