Announcements, information and updates from CWAG Members and Associates
April 5, 2018
CONGRATULATIONS
Hawaii Senate Confirms Russell Suzuki as 15th Attorney General
March 29, 2018

The Senate today voted to confirm Governor David Ige's nominee for Attorney General, Russell Suzuki. Suzuki has been the acting chief legal and law enforcement officer for the state since February 2, when then Attorney General Doug Chin resigned to become Lieutenant Governor.
 
General Russell has been a long-time supporter of CWAG and the Alliance Partnership, and we look forward to our future collaborations.
 
A longtime public-sector attorney, Suzuki has worked at the Department of the Attorney General for 36 years. He served as first deputy attorney general under Attorneys General Chin, David Louie, and Mark Bennett. He has also served as counsel to various state boards and commissions, including the Land Use Commission, the Board of Education, the Board of Regents, the Employees' Retirement System, the Employer-Union Health Benefits Trust Fund and the Judicial Selection Commission, among others.
 
Suzuki obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Hawaii and his J.D. from Ohio State University.
 
CWAG welcomes Hawaii Attorney General Russell Suzuki!
IN MEMORIAM
Remembering Former Wisconsin Attorney General Peggy Lautenschlager
March 31, 2018

Peggy Ann ("Peg") Lautenschlager, of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, died on March 31, 2018, after a battle with cancer that began almost 14 years earlier. The daughter of Fond du Lac public school teachers, Peg served as a district attorney, a state legislator, a United States Attorney, Wisconsin Attorney General, and the first Chair of the Wisconsin Ethics Commission. She had an impact on countless people, and it meant the world to her.
Peg was born on November 22, 1955, in Fond du Lac. She was the valedictorian of her class at Goodrich High School; a Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude graduate of Lake Forest College, where she majored in history and mathematics; and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School. 
Peg was appointed District Attorney of Winnebago County in 1985 and was elected to that position the following year. In 1988, she was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly, defeating a 32-year incumbent. Peg is the only Democrat to have been elected to represent the Fond du Lac area in the State Assembly in the last 75 years. She was re-elected in 1990.
In 1993, Peg was appointed by President Clinton to serve as the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin. During her tenure, she served on the Attorney General's Advisory Committee under U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno. Peg was the first Wisconsinite ever to serve on the committee.
In 2002, Peg was elected to serve as Wisconsin's 42nd Attorney General—the first woman elected to that position. As AG, Peg created a Public Integrity Unit, was a leader on environmental issues, and sued 36 pharmaceutical companies for reporting inflated drug prices. She prosecuted a man who was convicted of murdering six hunters and attempting to murder two others in northwest Wisconsin. She also issued an opinion concluding that Wisconsin law prohibits the exclusion of prescription contraceptives from benefit plans that provide prescription drug coverage. 
After serving as Attorney General from 2003-2007, Peg continued to advocate for causes that were important to her. She worked with the Service Employees International Union, fought for public access to the Wisconsin State Capitol during the protests of Act 10, and did pro bono legal work for young people in Fond du Lac. She also volunteered at Blandine House, a substance-abuse treatment center, where she was known for her home-cooked meals.
Peg was fiercely independent, a gifted orator, funny, and down-to-earth. She was a mentor and friend to numerous people who wanted to serve their communities.
In 2006, the Fond du Lac Reporter wrote that a "woman with the kind of tenacity and courage Peg Lautenschlager has shown in her fight with breast cancer, a woman who picks up the pieces and battles on, doesn't walk away." She never did.
AG Schimel Statement on Passing of Peg Lautenschlager
Mar 31 2018

Attorney General Brad Schimel released the following statement today after learning about the passing of former Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager.

“I did not know Peg well but many of the team members at the Wisconsin Department of Justice did, so I have learned more about her. Peg was passionate about her beliefs, cared deeply about her colleagues, and adored her family. I appreciate her many decades of public service and commitment to Wisconsin. She hired many of the fine public servants who now work at DOJ on behalf of the people of Wisconsin and her dedication lives on through their daily work.

 “My sympathies and prayers go out to Peg’s family, friends, and colleagues.”
2018 CWAG Chair's Initiative
May 3-4, 2018
Scottsdale, Arizona
 
Chair’s Initiative Registration is Now Closed
Due to overwhelming response to this year’s Chair’s Initiative, CWAG has closed registration for the event. We look forward to seeing you at an upcoming CWAG meeting!

Thank you for your continued support of CWAG and CWAG Chair, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. We look forward to seeing you all in May!
ENVIRONMENTAL LAW
Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman Defends Colorado’s Current Policy for Regulating Oil and Gas Development
April 2, 2018

Today Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman announced that her office has filed an opening brief in the Colorado Supreme Court in the case of Martinez v. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission . Attorney General Coffman and the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission are asking the Court to review a Court of Appeals decision which would dramatically change oil and gas regulatory review under the Oil and Gas Conservation Act (the "Act").

For years, the Commission has interpreted the Act to require a balance among policy objectives, including both the development of oil and gas resources and protection of the environment. In this case, the Commission was presented with a rulemaking request that sought a dramatic departure from this settled understanding. For example, the request urged the Commission to halt oil and gas production across the entire State of Colorado.

“State law creates a balance between development of Colorado’s oil and gas resources—which are tremendously important to our economy and serve as a source of reliable energy—and our other core values, including environmental protection,” said Attorney General Coffman. “As Coloradans, we should continue to engage in public debate on issues of statewide significance.”

In Colorado, administrative agencies have broad discretion to decide whether or not to pursue rulemaking based on a request by a member of the public. The Commission thus could have denied the request summarily, as other state agencies have done when presented with similar rulemaking requests. Instead, it engaged in a thorough public comment process, through which it heard from dozens of stakeholders as well as some of the State’s leading environmental experts. Based on the nearly 1,200-page record developed through that process—and pursuant to the Commission’s longstanding interpretation of the Act—the Commission issued an order declining to engage in rulemaking. The Colorado Supreme Court will review that order in Martinez .
OPIOID CRISIS
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Oregon DOJ Announces Grants to Combat Oregon’s Opioid Epidemic
April 5, 2018

Oregon Attorney General Rosenblum today announced $600,000 in grants to combat Oregon's opioid epidemic. The funding for the grants comes from Oregon DOJ's recent $2.4 million Medtronic settlement, and will be awarded to Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU) Department of Family Medicine and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) to support their work helping Oregonians struggling with opioid addiction. This is the second time that Oregon DOJ has used settlement funds to fund opioid addiction services.

The grants are funded with a portion of a $2.4 million settlement with Medtronic Sofamor Danek, Inc which resolved allegations that the company unlawfully promoted the Infuse Bone Graft Device. The settlement provided that the Attorney General may grant money from the settlement for programs addressing appropriate pain treatment.
CONSUMER PROTECTION
AG Fox Fights Sales Tax, Defends Montana Businesses And Consumers Before U.S. Supreme Court
April 4, 2018

Attorney General Tim Fox took action Wednesday to fight sales tax expansion efforts harmful to non-sales tax states like Montana. In a brief filed with the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of  South Dakota v. Wayfair , Fox highlighted Montana’s long history of opposing sales taxes, and noted the impact online sales taxes levied by other states could have on Montana business and consumers. 

“Montana businesses shouldn’t bear the burden of serving as deputized tax collectors for states and municipalities with an online sales tax,” Attorney General Fox said. “For many businesses, getting by is already hard enough without the additional challenge of deciphering a complex web of taxing jurisdiction spread across the country. I’m standing up for Montana businesses and pushing back against efforts to force an online sales tax on Montana consumers.”

At issue is a law passed by the State of South Dakota requiring any business engaging in online sales exceeding 200 transactions or $100,000 to collect South Dakota’s online sales tax. The tax collection obligations exist regardless of the state in which the business operates. Montana businesses exceeding the threshold established by South Dakota would be required to collect and distribute the sales tax revenue for South Dakota.

In his brief, Attorney General Fox asks the court to reaffirm the Court’s interpretation of the law in  Quill  and  Bellas Hess , as well as recognize the substantial practical challenges that abrogating the “physical presence” rule would have on businesses and consumers across the country.
Attorney General Becerra Sues Sutter Health for Anti-competitive Practices that Increase Prices for California Families
March 30, 2018

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced a lawsuit against Sutter Health, the largest hospital system in Northern California, for anticompetitive practices that result in higher healthcare costs for Northern Californians. The action aims to stop Sutter Health from unlawful conduct under state antitrust laws and restore competition in the California healthcare market.

The complaint alleges that Sutter Health engaged in anticompetitive behavior. These illegal practices resulted in higher prices for health care in Northern California by:

  • Establishing, increasing and maintaining Sutter Health's power to control prices and exclude competition;
  • Foreclosing price competition by Sutter Health’s competitors; and
  • Enabling Sutter Health to impose prices for hospital healthcare services and ancillary products that far exceed the prices it would have been able to charge in an unconstrained, competitive market.
The complaint also alleges that the excess profits Sutter Health received from illegal pricing practices went toward waves of acquisitions, extreme levels of executive compensation, and financing its own insurance arm.
Attorney General Becerra Files Criminal Charges Alleging $4.3 Million Fraud Scheme Perpetrated Against Veterans Administration
April 4, 2018

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has filed a criminal complaint alleging 38 individuals defrauded the United States Veterans Administration (VA) out of $4.3 million. According to the complaint, five of the charged defendants operated the Alliance Trucking School in Chatsworth, California, and falsely claimed to have enrolled veterans as students to obtain commercial driver’s licenses. The school received tuition payments from the VA for nonexistent classes. The complaint also charged other individuals who received a variety of VA benefits — often exceeding $50,000 per individual — based on their enrollment in the trucking school even though they never attended or completed classes.
SEXUAL ASSAULT AWARENESS
Sexual Assault Awareness Month in Hawaii
April 3, 2018

APRIL 1, 2018 marked the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) in Hawaii. Hawaii’s effort is part of a nationwide campaign to raise public awareness about sexual violence and educate communities on how to prevent it. The Department of the Attorney General, Department of Health, and the Hawaii Coalition Against Sexual Assault are partnering to combat the risk of sexual violence through conversations, programs, policies, and research-based tools that promote safety, respect, and equality. 
 
This year’s SAAM theme, “Embrace Your Voice!” aims to inform individuals on how they can use their words to promote safety, respect, and equality to stop sexual violence before it happens. Individuals can embrace their voices to show their support for survivors, stand up to victim blaming, shut down offensive jokes, correct harmful misconceptions, promote everyday consent, and practice healthy communications with children.
SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION
Oklahoma Attorney General Hunter Leads 10th Circuit States in Opposing Ruling that Colorado Sex Offender Registration is Unconstitutional
April 4, 2018

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter has filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit urging the court to reverse a federal judge’s declaration that the Colorado sex offender registration is unconstitutional. Joining the brief in support of Colorado were attorneys general from all other states in the jurisdiction of the 10th circuit including, Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. 

The brief comes after a ruling last August by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Matsch that held the Colorado Sex Offender Registration Act violated the constitutional rights of three sex offenders because it required them to register with the state on a database accessible to the public. The judge found the act violated the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment and the 14th Amendment guarantees of due process.

Attorney General Hunter said although the ruling involves only one Colorado case, it has wide-ranging implications for access to sex offender registries nationwide if upheld.
UNDERGROUND ECONOMY
Attorney General Becerra Sponsors Legislation to Combat California’s Underground Economy
April 2, 2018

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today unveiled legislation to combat California’s growing underground economy. Senate Bill 1272 would permanently establish the Tax Recovery and Criminal Enforcement (TRaCE) Task Force within the California Department of Justice, and expand the program with permanent Task Force teams in every major metropolitan region across the State.

The legislation aims to ensure multi-agency collaboration between several governmental entities, including the California Department of Justice, Department of Tax and Fee Administration, Franchise Tax Board, and Employment Development Department, to combat wage theft, tax evasion and other crimes in the underground economy.

The proposed legislation would provide significant support to the TRaCE Task Force, enabling the California Department of Justice, together with our state partners, to combat the wage theft, risks to public health and safety, and tax losses in the underground economy.
AG ELECTION TRACKER
Follow the 31 AG Races in 2018 on this Interactive Website
A significant number of states, 30 and the District of Columbia, have contests for the Office of Attorney General. Cozen O’Connor’s State Attorneys General Practice hosts an interactive map for those interested in following the races throughout the country. The State AG Election Tracker includes state-by-state AG candidate snapshots, filing deadlines and primary election dates; daily news, insights, polling and fundraising data; and the ability to sign up for real-time election-night updates via text and email. Access is free.
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