Announcements, information and updates from CWAG Members and Associates
All power point presentations and videos of the panels are currently available on the CWAG website at 2017 past events
The National Association of Attorneys General will focus on strengthening efforts nationwide to combat elder abuse, Kansas Attorney General and NAAG President Derek Schmidt announced. Attorney General Schmidt, who was elected in June to a one-year term as NAAG president, said during his presidency he will focus on working with attorneys general around the country to help all states gather expertise and build capacity to fight elder abuse, neglect and exploitation. "Elder abuse has been called the silent epidemic of our time," Schmidt said. "It is a crime that too often operates in the shadows. But the numbers are staggering, and as the population age 65 and older continues to grow, it is clear that we all need to do more to combat this serious problem."
CWAG Attorney General Marty Jackley of South Dakota , and others, announced that the Division of Criminal Investigation, the South Dakota Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, and Homeland Security Investigations have conducted investigations into sex trafficking during the Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota. "It is important that we protect our children with law enforcement operations that focus on removing sexual predators from our streets. Our operations continue to protect children and send a message that South Dakota is off-limits to anyone seeking to harm our children," said Attorney General Jackley. The mandatory minimum penalty upon conviction for Attempted Enticement of a Minor Using the Internet is 10 years in prison, up to life imprisonment. For Commercial Sex Trafficking of a Minor under 14, the charge carries a mandatory minimum term of 15 years in federal prison and up to life imprisonment. If the minor is over 14 years of age, it is 10 years mandatory minimum.  
CWAG Attorney General Xavier Becerra of California announced the release of four annual crime reports, which provide law enforcement agencies and the public with statewide data on crime statistics. The reports released are: Crime in California; Homicide in California; Juvenile Justice in California; and URSUS: Use of Force Incident Reporting. "In California, we strive to improve public trust between law enforcement agencies and the communities they are sworn to protect by opening lines of communication," said Attorney General Becerra. "A necessary part of the discussion is knowing the facts and having the data to inform the creation of effective plans to advance sound criminal justice policies. At the California DOJ, we know access to information is important to building trust and promoting transparency. That is why the four reports published today, along with the data sets on OpenJustice, are critical elements in strengthening the bond between Californians and their law enforcement agencies." These reports are updated annually on the Attorney General's OpenJustice website. Attorney General Becerra encourages researchers, academics and interested parties to further analyze the data. The information from each report can be accessed via the Attorney General's OpenJustice website.
CWAG Associate Attorney General Steve Marshall of Alabama has been appointed by Governor Kay Ivey to co-chair the newly-created Alabama Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council.  The Council, which was established by Executive Order, will examine the state's opioid crisis and identify ways to reduce its harmful impact on Alabamians. "I am honored to have been selected by Governor Ivey to help lead this new council studying the ongoing opioid crisis gripping our state," said Attorney General Marshall.  "Opioid abuse, in the form of prescription opioids and heroin, has reached epidemic levels across the country, and Alabama has more opioid prescriptions per capita than any other state.  Opioid addiction, including the use of deadly drugs like fentanyl, is killing Alabamians, destroying families and placing others, including law enforcement, at risk.  This crisis can no longer be ignored. I am committed to working with fellow members of the Council to develop a comprehensive strategy to save lives by reducing and combating opioid addiction and promoting safer methods of pain management.  Our work will not be easy, but it must be undertaken with urgency.  I look forward to joining in this effort to remove the destructive scourge of opioid addiction from our state."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Brad Schimel of Wisconsin announced he will be appointing an assistant attorney general to assist local district attorneys and law enforcement in the prosecution of methamphetamine-related cases. In February 2017, Attorney General Schimel briefed the Wisconsin State Legislature on the growing threat of methamphetamine and included findings from a January 2017 joint Wisconsin Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation study. The report details methamphetamine use increased 250 to 300 percent from 2011 to 2015. "I have hosted listening sessions over the last 12 months with local law enforcement and community leaders in many of Wisconsin's 72 counties, and there is no doubt meth use is one of the counties' biggest threats, particularly in the northwestern part of the state," said Attorney General Schimel. "The vast majority of methamphetamine is not being produced in "one pot" labs in people's homes, garages, and sheds, but in Mexico, which makes our efforts to put drug traffickers behind bars more important.  I'm confident the methamphetamine prosecutor, working alongside our DCI agents and local law enforcement, will have an immediate, positive impact on meth trafficking prosecutions and help reduce some of the burden our resource-strapped counties have been experiencing."
Anthem, Inc. is committed to supporting policy changes that help reduce, prevent and deter opioid use disorder, as well as those that help consumers better access treatment. As part of that commitment, its affiliated health plans just reached the company's collective goal of reducing prescribed opioids filled at pharmacies by 30 percent during the past five years. The health plans were some of the first to limit coverage for short-acting opioid coverage to seven days for all individual, employer-sponsored and Medicaid members beginning new opioid prescriptions. The policy does not apply to those who have cancer or sickle cell anemia or those who are receiving palliative care. The goal was originally expected to be achieved by 2019. The primary reason for the quantity limits was to prevent accidental addiction and opioid use disorder, and to ensure clinically appropriate use consistent with Centers for Disease Control guidelines.
CWAG Attorney General Lawrence Wasden of Idaho released his latest Consumer Protection Division report. The annual summary represents a detailed look at the division's work between July 2016 and June 2017. Most notably, the report includes the latest figures on Volkswagen's payouts to Idaho customers after the company settled allegations that it violated consumer protection laws by misrepresenting the emissions outputs of certain vehicle models. To date, Volkswagen has paid $49,148,753 to nearly 2500 Idaho customers, which includes reimbursement for vehicles as well as restitution. Restitution payments total $12 million. The division also recorded more than 13,600 contacts with consumers, recovered a record amount of consumer restitution, participated in a multistate settlement with Moody's that resulted in a nearly $7.5 million payment to the State of Idaho, and conducted a thorough review of a proposed $109 million sale of St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Lewiston. "The work of the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division takes on many forms and is essential to protecting Idaho consumers and maintaining fairness in the marketplace," Attorney General Wasden said. "It's important that Idahoans know we're here for them as a consumer resource and that unscrupulous characters know we're here in case they cross a line."
CWAG Attorney General Xavier Becerra of California announced a judgement against Ningbo Beyond, an apparel manufacturing company based in China that operates in California. In operating its business, Ningbo Beyond did not pay licensing fees for software, including products manufactured by Adobe, Microsoft, Symantec and others. By not paying software licensing fees, Ningbo Beyond gained a significant cost advantage in the low-margin business of apparel manufacturing, shipment and sales. The judgment awards the State of California $3.2 million in civil penalties and marks the second time the California Attorney General's Office has secured a legally enforceable judgement against an international company for violations under California's Unfair Competition Law. "All businesses in California must compete on a level playing field," said Attorney General Becerra. "Ningbo Beyond tried to cheat the system by using pirated software to undercut its competition and boost its profits. This judgment should send a strong message to all companies doing business in California: play by the rules. As the state's chief law enforcement officer, I'm committed to ensuring a thriving, competitive and fair marketplace."
CWAG Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman of Colorado announced that her office will not prosecute the faithless elector that attempted to disrupt Colorado's 2016 presidential election process, and will instead focus on improving state statutes to thwart any future efforts to undermine the voters' intent. "My office has thoroughly investigated the circumstances surrounding this case," said Attorney General Coffman. "While the faithless elector intentionally sought to disrupt the election process and override the will of Colorado's voters, he ultimately was unsuccessful. Thanks to the preparation and swift action of Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, and attorneys from my office, Colorado's voters were protected and their votes counted. The decision not to prosecute wasn't reached lightly, and I in no way condone the elector's reckless conduct. However, I am exercising my prosecutorial discretion so the individual cannot use our court system as a taxpayer-funded platform to capture more headlines and further flout the law. I have offered to work with Secretary Williams to evaluate options for strengthening Colorado's election laws and procedures. Some of the potential solutions may include providing for the automatic disqualification of an elector and the immediate substitution of an alternate elector by operation of law, and voting for alternate electors at the same time as electors. I thank the Secretary for his leadership, passion and commitment to protecting our election process."
CWAG Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in the "culverts case," officially referred to as United States of America et al. v. State of Washington. In 2013, the District Court for the Western District of Washington ruled for the federal government and the tribes, ordering Washington to replace by 2030 hundreds of culverts under state highways, at a cost of billions of dollars. The state appealed. In 2016, the Ninth Circuit upheld the district court's order. The petition asks the high court to review the case and resolve some of the especially challenging effects of the lower court ruling, which reach beyond culverts. "Filing this appeal does not in any way limit the State's ability to replace culverts," Attorney General Ferguson said, "and the State should increase the pace of culvert replacement. But I do not get to decide how much the State spends on fixing culverts or set priorities for state agencies that regulate or build culverts. I will support any proposal from the legislature, the Governor or other public officials who control land use and spending decisions that would accelerate the pace of culvert replacements. The State should not need a court order to restore salmon habitat."
CWAG Associate Attorney General Maura Healey of Massachusetts filed public comments with the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) opposing the agency's effort to create a new five-year national offshore oil and gas leasing program that could open up all currently restricted offshore areas to drilling, including Atlantic waters off the Massachusetts coast. In her comments, Attorney General Healey argues that opening up the Atlantic Ocean to oil and gas leasing would severely threaten the Massachusetts economy and the state's coastal environment. She warns that an oil spill could devastate Massachusetts' commercial fishing industry - the third largest in the country - and the state's robust recreation and tourism industries.
Chris Coppin | Legal Director
Conference of Western Attorneys General