FORMER CALIFORNIA AG JOHN VAN DE KAMP DIES
Former CWAG Attorney General John Van de Kamp of California died after a brief illness. He was 81. Van de Kamp was California's attorney general from 1983 until 1991. Van de Kamp had the distinction of serving as the first Los Angeles-based federal public defender from 1971-1975 and then as Los Angeles County's top prosecutor from 1975-1982 during his long legal and political career. He also was the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles from 1966-67. CWAG Attorney General Xavier Becerra said, "John Van de Kamp lived for the values of justice and opportunity that define the state of California. I will forever be grateful for the confidence he showed in me from my earliest days of public service under his leadership at the California Department of Justice." Van de Kamp, a Stanford Law School graduate, also served as president of the State Bar of California from 2004-2005 and more recently was the independent reform monitor for the city of Vernon as part of reform efforts there.
CWAG Attorney General Doug Chin of Hawaii
announced that the State of Hawaii has moved to convert the temporary restraining order issued last week by Hawaii federal judge Derrick K. Watson in the travel ban case into a preliminary injunction. On March 15, 2017, Judge Watson issued a 43-page opinion enjoining the federal government nationwide from enforcing or implementing Sections 2 and 6 of a second Executive Order issued by President Trump. That Executive Order would have restricted immigration from Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen, and also temporarily suspended refugee admissions. Under federal court rules, a temporary restraining order expires 14 days after entry, unless the court extends it. In contrast, a preliminary injunction will last as long as directed by the court. A hearing on the motion is currently scheduled before Judge Watson on March 29, 2017 at 9:30 a.m.
CWAG Attorney General Lawrence Wasden of Idaho
announced the release of his opinion regarding the proposed sale of St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, a nonprofit hospital in Lewiston, to a for-profit subsidiary of Tennessee-based RCCH HealthCare Partners. The opinion concludes the Attorney General's review of the proposed sale as required under the Idaho Nonprofit Hospital Sale or Conversion Act. "My review of the proposed sale indicates the hospital and the public will benefit from this transaction," Attorney General Wasden said. "I therefore do not oppose the sale, and I encourage the parties to work cooperatively to quickly transition the hospital to its new management." He also announced that his office has reached agreements with Ascension Health - the sole member of St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, Inc. - and RCCH HealthCare Partners to establish a $25 million healthcare endowment. A new, independent foundation will administer the endowment to benefit the health and well-being of people in nearby counties in Idaho, Washington and Oregon.
CWAG Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum of Oregon
announced a $545,000 settlement with the nutritional supplement chain Vitamin Shoppe Inc. that will prohibit the company from selling dietary supplements with illegal or unsafe ingredients. Under the settlement, Vitamin Shoppe is prohibited from selling any dietary supplement after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued written notice that the product contains an ingredient that is unlawful or unsafe. In addition, Vitamin Shoppe may not sell DMAA, picamillon, and other unlawful ingredients in Oregon. "The nutritional supplements that Vitamin Shoppe was selling have the potential to do a lot of harm. Continuing to sell a purported dietary supplement after the FDA warned it was unsafe or unlawful is unacceptable," said Attorney General Rosenblum. "This is the first agreement of its kind that holds a retailer financially responsible for selling products manufactured by a third party that they knew or should have known were not safe or not lawful."
CVS Health (CVS) announced the company will launch Reduced Rx™, a prescription savings program that will offer discounts on certain medications - through CVS Health's pharmacy benefits manager, CVS Caremark - directly to patients. The program will help patients with high out of pocket costs afford essential medications. Novo Nordisk will participate in the prescription savings program. Through this program, CVS Health and Novo Nordisk will offer Novolin R®, Novolin N® and Novolin 70/30® human insulin at a cost of $25 per 10ml vial, which reflects a potential savings of as much as $100 for cash paying patients.
CWAG Associate Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas
filed a lawsuit against several federal agencies for violating the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA). Since the NWPA's enactment in 1982, the federal government has failed to complete the licensing process for a permanent nuclear waste storage repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. The lawsuit, filed directly in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, seeks to force an up or down vote by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on the licensing of Yucca Mountain and to stop the Department of Energy from spending tax dollars on "consent-based" siting.
In response to President Trump's announcement he is seeking $120 million to restart licensing activities for Yucca Mountain, CWAG Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt of Nevada issued the following statement: "In the coming years, I will continue to battle the poster-child for federal overreach - a battle over an unwanted nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in our beloved Nevada. My Solicitor General's Office, senior staff and outside experts, working in conjunction with the Office of Nuclear Project's staff and technical experts and the Governor's Office, have been preparing for a resumption of attempts to license Yucca Mountain to store high level nuclear waste since a federal court issued its restart order. Today's announcement that the president is requesting $120 million in nuclear waste funding, part of which would be used to restart licensing activities for the Yucca Mountain repository, comes as no surprise to this team. Nevada will continue to litigate this matter aggressively and fully. We have many strong claims against the proposed nuclear repository. If the Trump administration continues along this path, we expect many years of protracted litigation in which we are confident we will ultimately prevail."
When CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington was elected attorney general, the office had eight attorneys devoted to consumer protection. That's grown to 22, with two more being hired, he said. The increase has come despite a dramatic drop in recent years in funding for consumer protection from the state's general fund. Additional money from settlements or court cases won go into the state general fund, and in some cases are reinvested in the consumer protection program to grow the program and pay the costs of bringing cases, he said. The litigation comes at a risk. Under Washington law, the state pays the cost of the winning side if the state loses its consumer protection lawsuit, Attorney General Ferguson said. But if the state does not sue, it sends a message to businesses that the Attorney General's Office will always settle, which means less money for the state. "If you go to trial and start winning, people get the memo on that," Attorney General Ferguson said. Last month, after a three-week trial, a King County judge awarded the state nearly $4.3 million in penalties, attorneys' fees and costs for multiple violations of the state Consumer Protection Act by the makers of 5-Hour Energy.
CWAG Associate Attorney General Karl A. Racine of the District of Columbia
warned immigrant communities in the District of Columbia of a potential scam involving persons posing as federal Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and placing bogus Search/Removal Warrants on homes. The warrants threaten the occupants with searches and potential removal, and could be part of an effort to con residents of immigrant communities into sharing important personal financial information or to coerce them into making payments to avoid further action. "Scammers will often stop at nothing to take advantage of people, and particularly vulnerable groups," Attorney General Racine said. "We are concerned that these fake warrants are part of an attempt to exploit very real fears of deportation running rampant right now in immigrant communities. Our office will do everything we can to help educate and protect all District residents, including undocumented immigrants."
With growing pressure by special interests to push forward with the legalization of recreational marijuana in Rhode Island, CWAG Associate Attorney General Peter Kilmartin, along with Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), the Ocean State Prevention Alliance, and What's the Rush Rhode Island, hosted a press conference to announce a unified opposition to the legalization of marijuana. Speakers at the press conference included representatives from law enforcement, the prevention and recovery communities, the medical community, the business community, municipal leaders, and others who are united in their opposition to the legalization of recreational marijuana in Rhode Island. "Many of the voices we heard today, we heard for the first time, especially from the medical community and municipal leaders. What they have to say should make every parent, every teacher, every business owner, every Rhode Islander pause to think about the many real consequences of legalization of recreational marijuana," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "This is a very complex policy decision that will have long lasting effects and unintended consequences, much of which are still unknown. This is not a decision that should be made lightly. It's important that we continue to have these discussions to better understand the full impact of legalization before we head down that a path - a path I believe is the wrong direction for the State of Rhode Island."