CWAG Attorney General Sean D. Reyes of Utah released the following statement on National Suicide Prevention Month: "Over the past two years, the Office of the Attorney General has teamed with legislators, state agencies, mental health clinicians, suicide prevention advocates, the faith community, educators, law enforcement, parents and teens to combat the leading cause of death of Utah children, ages 10-17. We can no longer accept the horrible reality that our kids are not only contemplating leaving this life, but actually succeeding in their determination to end it themselves. The shocking tragedy of suicide permeates our state and our children are finding it to be a solution to loneliness, depression, discrimination, anxiety and the devastating pain caused by bullying, harassment, and abuse. As I have visited with youth throughout the state over the past two and a half years individually and in groups, I have asked how many of them feel alone, judged, alienated or without hope. I have asked how many have considered hurting themselves or know someone who has or is thinking of ending their lives. I am deeply unsettled and saddened by the response, especially when I see a majority of hands shoot up in a crowd of 500 students.
CWAG Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman of Colorado announced the launch of the Colorado Naloxone for Life Initiative, a statewide partnership to save lives with the opioid overdose reversal medication, Naloxone. "Coloradans, along with the rest of our nation, are experiencing a deadly opioid public health crisis," said General Coffman. "We can't sit by and watch the horrible disease of opioid addiction claim more lives in our local communities." According to data shared by the Harm Reduction Action Center, there is an overdose death in Colorado every nine hours and twenty-four minutes. Data from the State of Colorado compiled by the Colorado Health Institute (CHI) demonstrated that between 2002 and 2014 drug overdose deaths increased in all but one county in Colorado, resulting in a 68 percent increase in drug overdose deaths. In addition, there are counties in Colorado with rates that rank among the highest in the United States.
CWAG Attorney General Marty Jackley of South Dakota announced that Second Circuit Court Judge John Pekas has granted the State's Motion for Summary Judgement in Rick Law and Intrepid Ventures Operations, LLC, World Wide Holdings, Inc. and Interactive Holdings, Inc. v. State of South Dakota. In 2009, the South Dakota Legislature passed a bill banning smoking in nearly all public places. This ban included locations selling alcohol, including video lottery establishments. Petitions were filed to place the smoking ban on the statewide ballot for the 2010 general election. The smoking ban was overwhelming supported by South Dakota voters, receiving 204,160 votes for and 113,011 against.In 2011, the Plaintiffs in Law v. State, who are involved in video lottery operations, filed a lawsuit alleging that the smoking ban violated the South Dakota State Constitution. The Complaint was later amended to include allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty and to allege that the smoking ban resulted in a regulatory taking or damaging of Plaintiffs' property for which compensation was due. The Court found that the exemptions contained in the smoking ban were not "an unconstitutional exclusive privilege" and that the smoking ban "has not interfered with Plaintiffs' reasonable investment-backed expectations."
CWAG Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum of Oregon announced a global settlement of the litigation between Oregon and Oracle regarding the establishment of Oregon's healthcare exchange. The settlement, valued at more than $100 million, includes cash payments to Oregon as well as a six-year Unlimited License Agreement (ULA) for products and services that can be leveraged by the Legislature to significantly modernize state government's IT systems, potentially saving the State hundreds of millions of dollars. "I want to thank the teams from Oregon and Oracle who have worked so hard to find a way to put this unfortunate episode behind us," said General Rosenblum. "This settlement outcome is a "win-win" for the people of Oregon-without the expense and continued impact on our collective psyche. But, the beauty of the deal is that if we choose to take full advantage of the free ULA's, we are uniquely situated to modernize our statewide IT systems over the next six years-something we could not otherwise afford to do. It is a creative solution that allows us to take advantage of Oracle's suites of products that already serve several Oregon state agencies well, and are used by the majority of other state governments."
CWAG Attorney General Mark Brnovich of Arizona announced the State of Arizona has reached a settlement in a lawsuit challenging SB 1070. The settlement keeps in place a key provision of SB 1070 section 2(b) which allows Arizona law enforcement to check the immigration status of those suspected of being in the country illegally. Under the settlement, all Plaintiffs and Defendants in Valle Del Sol vs. Whiting, agreed to dismiss their appeals. "We have succeeded by keeping the key provisions of SB 1070 in place," said General Brnovich. "Our goal while negotiating this settlement was to find a common sense solution that protects Arizona taxpayers while helping our great state move forward." Under the settlement, an Informal Attorney General Opinion will be issued providing guidance and clarity to Arizona law enforcement agencies and officers on how to comply with the key provision of SB 1070 section 2(b). The U.S. Supreme Court also upheld section 2(b). The informal opinion memorializes the U.S. District Court and the U.S. Supreme Court rulings.
CWAG Attorney General Hector Balderas of New Mexico announced that his office will be holding transition meetings for students affected by ITT Technical Institute's recent closure. ITT announced that it closed its ITT Technical Institute campuses nationwide, including the Albuquerque location. General Balderas wants to help New Mexicans learn about their options after the closure. The purpose of these sessions is to educate former ITT students about the circumstances surrounding the closure, possible avenues for discharging their federal student loan debt, as well as to provide information about other educational programs that might accept transfer credits from ITT and what actions the Office of the Attorney General may be considering. "Former ITT Tech students in New Mexico need to be made whole and they need to know their options," said General Balderas. "I am asking all former ITT Tech students who were working on a degree at the time of the closure to meet with our office so we can assist them in understanding all of their options. Hard working New Mexicans deserve better than to be left out in the cold by a giant, for-profit college that drove them into unnecessary debt."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Luther Strange of Alabama is offering information about resources available to assist students of ITT Technical Institute, which suddenly announced its closure on September 6 in the face of regulatory actions by the U.S. Department of Education. ITT has branches in Madison, Bessemer and Mobile, reportedly serving approximately 1,600 students in Alabama. According to the U.S. Department of Education, students have two general options: to apply for closed school loan forgiveness, or to seek to transfer credits to another educational institution. Students may apply for discharge of their federal loans if the school closed while they were enrolled, or if they had been enrolled within 120 days prior to closing. They are urged not to pay for loan consolidation or forgiveness that the Department of Education provides for free. If one subsequently completes a comparable program at another school through benefit from one's training at ITT, the loan may be repayable.
WESTERN GOVERNORS FOCUS ON FOREST MANAGEMENT
Montana Governor Steve Bullock urged attendees at the first workshop of the Western Governors' National Forest and Rangeland Management Initiative to "take a hard look at collaboration. What makes it succeed? Why does it fail? How do the federal land managers embrace it? It's a discussion that will set the stage and tone for more hard work to follow." U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, who joined Governor Bullock in addressing the workshop in Missoula, Montana, expressed optimism about the collaborative work of the initiative. "I have high expectations if we meet these difficult challenges together and focus on the right challenges. The more we trust in that system, the more we can get done." Visit the Western Governors Association website to access videos and material from the September 20 and 21, 2016, workshop at westgov.org.