CWAG Roundup

September 1, 2016

Each year a prominent public figure who has performed exemplary public service addresses the students, faculty, alumni and friends of the New York University School of Law.  This year's guest speaker is former Oklahoma Attorney General Michael C. Turpen. Since leaving public office, Mr. Turpen has continued to maintain a high profile as a local television personality, public speaker, newspaper columnist, and author. He has appeared on Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect. He is well known for his ability to distill the complexities of human experience into memorable aphorisms, fondly called "Turpenisms." The Honorable Robert Abrams has led a career in public life marked by achievement, independence, and integrity, and was in the vanguard of a movement of reform Democrats who entered politics in the 1960s. He was elected to the first of three terms in the New York State Assembly at the age of 27, followed by three terms as Bronx Borough President and four terms as Attorney General of New York State.
CWAG Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt of Nevada announced his "AG for a Day" northern Nevada tour beginning on September 6 in Fallon, Nevada. The tour will bring the Office of the Attorney General to Nevadans all across the State. Although the office represents the interests of all Nevadans each and every day, the "AG for a Day" tour provides an additional opportunity for General Laxalt and his staff to hear the concerns of residents in each county and to be directly responsive to them. The idea for bringing the office to different locations originated in November of 1968 when Nevada Governor Paul Laxalt created his "Capital for a Day" tour. With members of his cabinet, Governor Laxalt traveled the State to identify and address issues of concern.
CWAG Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth of Alaska is no stranger to litigation. General Lindemuth has been practicing law in the state for nearly 20 years and has argued cases before the Alaska Supreme Court and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. She said in private practice she worked with a dozen clients at one time, now she's managing a staff of 450, overseeing a big range of diverse legal issues. General Lindemuth said the state's recent decision to drop the litigation against tribes being able to request the Interior Department to hold certain lands in trust status, effectively putting it under protection by the federal government, should not be cause for concern by Alaskans worried about what trust status could mean. "I've been tasked by the governor and lieutenant governor to go out and engage with the different stakeholders. That includes the federal government, Bureau of Indian Affairs and it includes the tribes, and it includes ANCSA corporations. It includes industry. It includes the outdoor council and those who are concerned with game management issues. You know, it's everyone," said General Lindemuth.
CWAG Attorney General Marty Jackley of South Dakota hosted an Opioid Abuse Consumer Protection Training in Sioux Falls on August 29, 2016, at the South Dakota Medical School. "Opioid drug abuse has become a growing epidemic across the nation and it is affecting our state with a direct impact to our communities, healthcare professionals, and our court system," said General Jackley. "This training is designed to provide South Dakota with additional tools to help us combat opioid abuse." In 2015, South Dakota suffered 49 accidental overdose deaths. Drug addiction reaches and affects a broad spectrum of individuals, including ordinary citizens with legitimate pain reduction needs. As this problem continues to grow, it is necessary to train and educate our attorneys, healthcare professionals, policy makers, law enforcement, service providers, and others to the impact of opioid abuse on society.
South Dakota has a meth problem, but it can be solved. That's according to CWAG Attorney General Marty Jackley of South Dakota, who is well aware of what some have called a methamphetamine epidemic on both tribal and non-tribal lands in South Dakota, and he has a plan to overcome the state's meth addiction. "I think we can beat this, but I think it has a component of education, treatment through the drug court system, but then enforcement and accountability for the drug dealers and manufacturers," General Jackley said. His first step to overcoming South Dakota's addiction to meth is to raise awareness about the issue. And that's where the "No Meth Ever" campaign comes in. "No Meth Ever isn't just the attorney general, it's a partnership that includes the U.S. Attorney as part of bringing in our reservations, because this is a statewide problem," General Jackley said. "It involves education, it involves community organizational groups, the health care industry, so this is a long-term campaign that is very important to me and I think it's very important to South Dakota."
In 2014, more people died from drug overdoses than in any other year with the majority of those overdose deaths involving an opioid. Since 1999, the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids (prescription opioid pain relievers and heroin) nearly quadrupled, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 165,000 people have died from prescription opioid overdoses. In recognition of this growing concern, the CWAG Associate Attorney General Doug Peterson of Nebraska, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the U.S. Attorney, and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, are sponsoring a daylong conference to find a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to prevent and treat opioid abuse in Nebraska. "Heroin and prescription drug abuse have devastating effects on the public health and safety of communities across America," said General Peterson. "Nebraska has an opportunity to join forces and construct preventative measures against the scourge occurring in so many other states."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Tom Miller of Iowa commended the U.S. Department of Education for seeking to maintain states' authority to enforce state consumer protection laws in online education cases. In a joint letter to U.S. Secretary of Education John King, Miller, and Iowa College Aid Executive Director Karen Misjak, strongly support the department's proposed regulations that uphold a state's authority to enforce the laws when that state is part of a multistate agreement that regulates distance education programs. "We strongly support the Department's proposed rule language that does not permit a state authorization reciprocity agreement (SARA) to prohibit a participating state from enforcing its own consumer protection laws," General Miller and Misjak wrote. "We believe the Department's proposed rule is an excellent step toward stronger protections for students and applaud its efforts."
CWAG Attorney General Doug Chin of Hawaii announced the resolution of multiple class action lawsuits regarding state foster care payments. In December 2013, a group of licensed foster parents - also known as resource families - filed a federal lawsuit asserting that the amount the State pays to resource families to cover the costs of caring for foster children was inadequate. General Chin said, "The settlement between DHS and the Plaintiffs ends years of litigation in both state and federal court and demonstrates that parties can work together on investing in the health and well-being of children and families." 
Chris Coppin
Legal Director
Conference of Western Attorneys General
1300 I Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
505-589-5101 (cell)
817-615-9335 (fax)

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