CWAG Attorney General Peter Michael of Wyoming
announced that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled to lift protections that kept gray wolves an endangered species in Wyoming years after federal officials removed packs in neighboring states from that list. Gray wolves were once hunted to the brink of extinction in the lower 48 states, but they recovered under Endangered Species Act protections and reintroduction programs. They now number around 5,500, including about 400 in Wyoming, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Fish and Wildlife determined in 2011 that gray wolves were no longer a threatened species in Wyoming. But U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson sided with environmental groups in 2014 and she rejected the state wolf management plan. In its reversal, a three-judge panel of the appellate court said federal officials exercised proper judgment and adequately responded to concerns about Wyoming's management plan.
CWAG Attorney General Jahana Lindemuth of Alaska
requested the U.S. Supreme Court to review and reverse a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals taking away state control of the salmon fishery in Cook Inlet. The State has managed this fishery since statehood, and the federal and state entities have all agreed that state management is better at preventing overfishing in this area. "This is an area where the federal government recognizes the State's expertise and agrees that the State is better equipped to manage the fishery, even in federal waters," said Attorney General Lindemuth. "We hope the U.S. Supreme Court will review this important issue and reverse the Ninth Circuit's decision." The United Cook Inlet Drift Association and the Cook Inlet Fishermen's Fund sued the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) in 2013 challenging state management of the Cook Inlet salmon fishery in federal waters. Although the salmon fisheries occur partly in federal waters, NMFS agreed that the State's longstanding management of the fisheries better protected fish stocks. The State intervened to support NMFS' decision and retain state management authority.
CWAG Attorney General Doug Chin of Hawaii
asked a federal judge to temporarily block President Trump's revised executive order on immigration. Lawyers for the state argued that "the new executive order is resulting in the establishment of religion in the State of Hawaii contrary to its state Constitution." The filing also says the revised ban will damage Hawaii's "economy, educational institutions, and tourism industry; and it is subjecting a portion of the state's citizens to second-class treatment and discrimination, while denying all Hawaii residents the benefits of an inclusive and pluralistic society." Lawyers for the state said they will move for a temporary restraining order on March 15, a day before the new executive order is supposed to take effect. "This new executive order is nothing more than Muslim Ban 2.0," Attorney General Chin said in a statement. "Under the pretense of national security, it still targets immigrants and refugees. It leaves the door open for even further restrictions."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Donovan Jr., of Vermont
provided municipalities with a guide should they consider a response to recent changes in federal immigration policy and enforcement. The guide, which is a pamphlet produced by the Immigration Task Force and the Attorney General's Office, gives cities and towns an overview of current federal immigration policy and model policies for municipalities. The purpose of the document is to promote public safety and ensure local law enforcement can protect vulnerable communities and persons, while complying with federal law. Attorney General Donovan said: "The relationship of trust between local law enforcement and the communities they serve is an essential part of safe cities and towns. This document is meant to protect that relationship and provide information to Vermont cities and towns as they review federal immigration policy."
CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson's
Student Loan Bill of Rights legislation passed the Washington House of Representatives with bipartisan support. House Bill 1440 establishes baseline standards for student loan servicers, in addition to creating a student loan ombuds to help resolve student complaints and to educate borrowers about student loans. The Student Loan Bill of Rights cleared the House by a bipartisan vote of 71-27. It now heads to the Senate for consideration. "My office has received hundreds of consumer complaints from student borrowers," Attorney General Ferguson said. "The resources this legislation provides will help thousands of Washingtonians who are overburdened with student debt. It also holds student loan servicers accountable to clear standards."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Leslie Rutledge of Arkansas
is making available new easy-to-use consumer tip cards, which are obtainable on the recently redesigned ArkansasAG.gov or for delivery by mail. This is part of National Consumer Protection Week and her ongoing efforts to educate Arkansans to protect them from scams, fraud and identity theft. The cards, which are also available in Spanish, offer quick, easy-to-read tips with infographic artwork to help Arkansans make decisions when it comes to automobiles, finances, homes, identity and technology. The series of five cards include: Best Practices for Automobile Owners; Tips to Protect Your Credit and Finances; Recommendations for Homeowners, Landlords and Tenants; Ways to Avoid Identity Theft; and Safe and Smart Technology Tips. "These new consumer tip cards are a great resource for Arkansans and will help them protect their finances and identity," said Attorney General Rutledge. "The responsibilities of life seem to always have us moving faster and faster, but protection from criminals and con artists must remain a high priority."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Tom Miller of Iowa
announced that two timber buying companies must reform their business practices in Iowa, through a court-approved agreement. The agreement follows complaints from elderly rural property owners. The agreement resolves a consumer fraud investigation against Central Illinois Hardwood Inc., of Green Valley, IL, and Harvest Hardwood Inc., of Oskaloosa, Iowa. "We alleged that the defendants repeatedly took advantage of elderly rural property owners by underpaying for valuable walnut trees and other hardwoods, taking more trees than they were authorized to harvest, and leaving properties damaged and scarred," Attorney General Miller said. "This agreement will reform how these timber buyers do business, and put an end to abusive and deceptive practices," he added. "We want to make sure Iowa landowners are treated fairly."
Huntington, Oregon, has become a hot destination, even if most visitors only stay long enough to buy marijuana products from the dispensaries in town. Not much more than a year ago, the city was fading, its population slowly diminishing, as has been the case in countless small towns across the American West. Businesses like the truck stop east of town closed, and the flow of visitors thinned after the freeway bypassed the city. Then the "green gold" arrived, and Huntington underwent a mini-boom. On a busy day, the number of visitors arriving might outnumber the city's 435 citizens. Many of them come from Idaho, ready to spend their money on a drug that's illegal in their home state. City Hall might reap enough tax money from marijuana and related sales to double the city's $200,000 budget.