CWAG ATTORNEY GENERAL NEWS
CWAG Attorney General Sean Reyes of Utah
keynoted the conference "Effective Public Prosecution and Defense: Essentials for Success," in Lagos, Nigeria. The event was organized by Chief Anthony Idigbe, SAN, Senior Partner of the firm Punuka Attorneys and Solicitors and held at the Lagos Business School. Attorney General Reyes spoke of his experiences fighting human trafficking in the Americas, and led a discussion of the scope of the issue and efforts to combat trafficking and other crimes in Nigeria. Utah Chief Federal Deputy & General Counsel Parker Douglas led an exchange of ideas on prosecuting public corruption. Other speakers included Markus Green, Assistant General Counsel of Pfizer, Inc., Fola Arthur-Worrey, former Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution, and Bayero Davi, Kaduna State Director of Public Prosecution.
CWAG Attorney General and Senator-elect, Kamala Harris of California
won committee assignments that place her on the front lines of immigration and climate change policy. Attorney General Harris is also poised to play a role in one of the only areas that so far shows potential for bipartisan cooperation: infrastructure policy, which deals with roads, bridges, dams, airports and other such projects. Senate leadership assigned Harris to four Senate committees in all. They are:
Homeland Security and Government Affairs, Environment and Public Works, Intelligence Committee and the Budget Committee.
Former CWAG Attorney General and Senator-elect Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada
has announced she will be joining six committees upon beginning her term as Nevada's next U.S. Senator. Senator-elect Cortez Masto will serve on the following Senate committees: Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Energy and Natural Resources; Rules and Administration; Commerce, Science, and Transportation; Indian Affairs; and the Special Committee on Aging. "I am honored to be able to represent the great state of Nevada on these six committees, which play an integral, distinct role in addressing the many issues affecting Nevadans every day," said Ms. Cortez Masto. "Each committee will provide unique opportunities to serve Nevada's diverse communities and enable me to use my expertise and experience as a former Attorney General."
Former Maine Attorney General James Tierney
announced that The National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School is now StateAG.org. "We are pleased to announce the official launch of StateAG.org, an educational resource on the office of state attorney general. Led by Director James E. Tierney - Lecturer-in-Law at Harvard and Columbia Law Schools, former Maine Attorney General, and former Director of the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School - StateAG.org examines the wide-ranging impact and role of state attorneys general in U.S. law and policy," stated the press release.
CWAG Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum of Oregon
, chair of the Law Enforcement Profiling Task Force, joined task force members to unveil legislation for the upcoming 2017 Oregon legislative session. The draft legislation would expand officer education and training to include profiling prevention and understanding and overcoming implicit bias. In addition, the proposed legislation would set up a statewide process to collect traffic and pedestrian stop data, and improve police accountability by requiring the collection and publication of the data. Publication will help policy makers and the public to better understand the nature of interactions between law enforcement and Oregonians and will help address any evidence of bias. "I'm very proud of the work done by this task force, both by its individual members and as a group," said Attorney General Rosenblum. "We need to make sure both our new and veteran law enforcement officers have appropriate training and education around profiling prevention. This includes training to recognize and overcome our implicit biases. We also need to make sure we have an appropriate process to collect better data on policing, and to keep that process publicly accountable. I believe our proposed legislation reflects the best of the national discussion on state legislative solutions to address the problem of profiling."
CWAG Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem of North Dakota
filed a lawsuit with the Public Service Commission against the U.S. Department of Interior Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) over OSM's so-called "Stream Protection Rule" under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA). The case was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. "This is the epitome of a midnight regulation," Attorney General Stenehjem said. "This case involves a last-ditch effort by the outgoing Administration to encroach on the clear authority granted to the State of North Dakota and the Public Service Commission." In its Complaint, North Dakota contends that the new OSM rule, which places numerous onerous restrictions on surface coal mining and reclamation activities, violates federal law and the United States Constitution.
CWAG Attorney General Tim Fox of Montana
announced that a Special Master appointed by the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in State of Montana v. State of Wyoming that the state of Montana is entitled to specific declaration of its water compact rights, to recovery of damages in the form of water from the State of Wyoming, as well as that Montana has the right to fill the Tongue River Reservoir to the pre-1950 levels. The Court's decision is the latest development in the nine year legal battle surrounding water use under the Yellowstone River Compact, passed by Congress in 1950. "Today's decision is a big win for the State of Montana and its water users," said Attorney General Fox. "I am pleased that the Special Master recognized the State of Montana's right to assert its Compact rights, and has ruled that Montana is entitled to a specific judicial declaration of its rights."
CWAG Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth of Alaska
announced that the Alaska Supreme Court's decision in Chevron v. State upheld production taxes paid in 2005 and 2006 by Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Forest Oil. The Court's decision ensures that the State retains approximately $500 million in taxes and interest that the companies claimed should be refunded to them. "This is a great result for the State," said Attorney General Lindemuth. "Not only from a fiscal point of view, but it also recognizes the expertise of Department of Revenue in interpreting tax laws." The producers' lawsuit arose out of the Department of Revenue (DOR's) decision to group several oil fields together in determining the tax rate on the oil produced from these fields. Under the tax regime at the time, called the economic limit factor or "ELF," the production tax rate depended on the size of the oil field. Large fields were taxed more heavily and small fields taxed more lightly under the assumption that small fields required the same costly infrastructure as large fields and thus were more expensive to produce from. But if multiple fields were "economically interdependent" and shared common production facilities, the ELF statute permitted DOR to aggregate the production from multiple fields in determining their tax rate. In 2005 DOR decided to aggregate several smaller fields with the larger Prudhoe Bay field because the fields, which used the same production facilities, were highly integrated.
MACHINE LEARNING/ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
A lengthy article on Google's work in the field of artificial intelligence ran in a recent New York Times Magazine feature. It is an example of the type of cutting edge technology and cyber security that CWAG will cover at its February 2017 forum in Park City, Utah. More articles on such topics will run in the Roundup leading up to our forum.