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. A working draft agenda is attached to this Roundup. Please be aware that this is a draft agenda and it may change significantly prior to the actual meeting.
Early Bird Registration: The deadline for Early Bird discounted registration is tomorrow, 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.
Room Block Sold Out: Despite our best efforts to gauge CWAG attendance, over the past several years the CWAG room block has sold out quickly and well before the "official" cutoff date. This year has proven to be no exception and our room block is currently sold out. Part of the problem is we run up against limitations in the size of resorts located in the scenic locations our guests love in the West.
We recommend you call the resort reservations number at 880.786.8259 to inquire about any possible room availability due to a cancellation prior to booking a room offsite. If no rooms are available below is a list of nearby hotels. Individuals should make a personal reservation as CWAG does not have any arrangements with them.
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.
ALLIANCE PARTNERSHIP BINATIONAL EXCHANGE MEETING
The Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG) Alliance Partnership, CWAG Chair and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum along with Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden cordially invite you to attend the 2016 CWAG Alliance Partnership Binational State Attorneys General Exchange.
The Binational State Attorneys General Exchange will be held from July 16 to July 17 at the Sun Valley Resort in Sun Valley, Idaho, prior to the CWAG Annual Meeting which runs from July 17-20, 2016.
CWAG has confirmed the attendance of Mexico's Federal Attorney General Arely Gomez Gonzalez, and anticipates approximately 25 state Attorneys General from Mexico and the United States to be in attendance at the Binational Exchange, in addition to other federal and private partners.
There is no separate registration fee for the Binational State Attorneys General Exchange. Please confirm your participation by emailing CWAG Alliance Partnership Deputy Director, Lauren Niehaus at LNiehaus@cwagweb.org or by phone at 303-827-9039. The Binational Exchange is open to all attendees on a space available basis.
DRAFT AGENDA: CWAG State Attorneys General Binational Exchange
Saturday July 16, 2015
7:00pm - Welcome Reception and Dinner
Sunday July 17, 2016
9:00am - 3:00pm - Binational AG Exchange
6:15pm - CWAG Annual Meeting Opening Dinner (with Mexican AG Delegation)
CWAG TRAINER HONORED
CWAG Attorney General Sean Reyes of Utah announced that Utah Assistant Attorney General Scott Reed was honored by Salt Lake County for his role with Utah's drug courts over the last two decades. "The work that Scott Reed has done with the drug courts-from helping to start the program to developing it over the last twenty years-has helped change the lives of thousands of people," said General Reyes. "By helping drug court participants-high risk, high-need individuals with addiction problems-stay clean and beat their addictions, the drug courts help individuals transform their lives for good and positively re-integrate with society instead of relegating them to incarceration or likely re-offense without any healing or addiction recovery. Scott is well-deserving of recognition for his efforts, and we congratulate him for his decades of service." Scott also volunteers many hours to CWAG's Alliance Partnership program to train Mexican prosecutors.
CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington and CWAG Associate Attorney General Pam Bondi of Florida announced a lawsuit against a Florida-based company and its owners, accusing them of charging students illegal fees for debt adjustment services, including assistance with consolidating federal student loans. Borrowers can already consolidate their loans, and get other assistance, for free through the federal government. From 2013 to 2015, the company advertised debt relief services for student loans, including claims it could offer an "Obama Student Loan Forgiveness Program," and suggesting the company was associated with the federal government. "In 2015, Washington students graduated with an average of nearly $25,000 in debt," General Ferguson said. "I will not tolerate the financial abuse of already overburdened Washington students."
CWAG Associate Attorney Bill Sorrell of Vermont announced that Billing Tree, Inc., an Arizona company that processes electronic payments, will pay $178,000 to settle claims that the company violated Vermont consumer protection laws. "Vermont continues its strong prosecution against those engaged in predatory lending activities," said General Sorrell. "This is the fourth and largest settlement against a payment processor of high-interest, unlicensed internet loans and a further warning to the illegal lending industry." Between 2012 and 2014, Billing Tree processed debits from 3,903 consumer bank accounts in Vermont on behalf of at least 43 online lenders of high-interest loans. The annual interest often exceeded 100-300% even though Vermont law prohibits annual interest above 24%. None of the 43 lenders had a license to make loans in Vermont. As of May 2014, Billing Tree ceased processing payments in Vermont involving any online consumer loans.
CWAG Associate Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas announced a settlement with PayPal Inc. regarding its Venmo mobile phone application ("app"). This agreement resolves the state's legal action against PayPal, which since 2013 has been the parent company of Venmo, a popular money transfer application and social network that allows users to electronically pay others by using linked bank accounts or credit cards. "Innovation in payment processing technology benefits consumers throughout Texas," General Paxton said. "However, it is important that businesses remain aware of the potential consequences regarding their users' privacy and security so that they can better protect consumers." According to investigators, Venmo used consumers' phone contacts without clearly disclosing how the contacts would be used, did not clearly disclose how consumers' transactions and interactions with other users would be shared, and misrepresented that communications from Venmo were actually from particular Venmo users.
CWAG Attorney General Hector Balderas of New Mexico filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), its contractor and two Colorado mine owners in response to the Gold King Mine Spill's devastating impact on the State. New Mexico, in addition to the State of Utah, the Navajo Nation and the Southern Ute Tribe, suffered catastrophic environmental, public health and economic damage due to the release of hazardous substances into the Animas River. "The release of hazardous substances into waters that are the lifeblood of our economy and culture in New Mexico has had a devastating impact on our historical rural, agricultural and tribal communities," said General Balderas. "It is inappropriate for the EPA to impose weak testing standards in New Mexico and I am demanding the highest testing standards that the EPA would impose in any other state in the nation to protect the health and well-being of our citizens. Additionally, remediation and compensation dollars have been far too minimal for these very special agricultural and cultural communities who depend on this precious water source for irrigation and drinking water. They must be properly compensated and there must be appropriate independent monitoring to prevent future dangers to public health and the economy."
In U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes Co., 15-290, the Supreme Court unanimously held that an "approved jurisdictional determination" by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stating its definitive view that a parcel of property contains "waters of the United States" is "final agency action reviewable under the Administrative Procedure Act." The Court concluded that such a determination meets both prongs of the test for when agency action is final: It "mark[s] the consummation of the agency's decision making process," and it gives rise to "direct and appreciable legal consequences." CWAG Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt of Nevada, who participated in the case through an amicus brief, stated, "The Obama Administration seems determined to move as far and as fast as possible to unilaterally change our constitutional system and our congressional laws. Three justices even remarked that the case raised 'troubling questions regarding the Government's power to cast doubt on the full use and enjoyment of private property throughout the Nation.' Fortunately in this case, our checks and balances have protected Nevadans from truly unprecedented federal overreach."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia announced a major step in destroying unwanted and expired prescription drugs. General Morrisey, in cooperation with the Attorney General's Public Health Trust and its members, will soon accept applications to fund the placement of four drug incinerators across West Virginia. It represents another step in the Dispose Responsibly of Prescriptions (DRoP) initiative, which has distributed drug disposal drop boxes throughout West Virginia. Law enforcement agencies having received and/or applied for a DRoP box will be given priority in obtaining an incinerator. "Our office has taken numerous proactive steps to help eradicate the substance abuse epidemic that has ravaged our state," General Morrisey said. "This is yet another step to hopefully achieve that end."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Brad Schimel of Wisconsin offered a DOSE OF REALITY to employers and employees throughout Wisconsin about the dangers of misusing opioid and narcotic pain medications - an abuse that costs U.S. employers almost $26 billion per year. DOSE OF REALITY - Prevent Prescription Painkiller Abuse in Wisconsin, is a statewide marketing campaign designed to raise awareness of this issue and to encourage the community to take action. General Schimel's office developed and launched the campaign in September. "Over the past seven months, we've been sharing the crisis posed by the heroin and prescription painkiller epidemic sweeping our state," General Schimel said. "We've partnered with the medical community and now we are working with employers to help us in the fight to make our statewide workplaces safer, reduce the economic toll, and save lives." The campaign is expanding to the state's workplaces, as four out of five employers have had to manage employees with the issue. In Wisconsin, 80 percent of Worker's Compensation claims involving pain medications include opioids.
The Rhode Island State House of Representatives passed legislation that prohibits so-called "patent trolls" in Rhode Island. The legislation, filed on behalf of CWAG Associate Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin, prohibits a person or company from making bad faith assertions of patent infringement against a Rhode Island business or individual. The bill targets "patent trolls," which are individuals or companies that acquire patents solely for the purpose of using them to extract license fees and settlements from those targeted as alleged infringers. Consumers, small businesses and non-profit agencies are often targeted by patent trolls because they have purchased or used products with a wide range of patented technology such as printers or scanners. "I commend Chairman Kennedy and Minority Leader Algiere for their work on this important, pro-business legislative action that will protect our small businesses from what are essentially boardroom shakedowns that exploit a loophole in our existing patent infringement laws," said General Kilmartin.