Squire Patton Boggs’ State Attorneys General Practice Group is comprised of lawyers who have served at senior levels in state AG offices around the country and whose practices focus, to one degree or another, on representing clients before these increasingly assertive and powerful, yet often overlooked, government agencies, as explained in detail here.
In these updates, we will call attention to the most noteworthy state AG news or developments emerging in the previous week.
The Maryland legislature has approved a bill that would “empower the state’s attorney general to take action to stop pharmaceutical price gouging,” according to an Associated Press (AP) report. Specifically, the bill would “enable the attorney general to bring civil actions against manufacturers of off-patent or generic drugs that make an ‘unconscionable’ price increase – described as an excessive increase unjustified by the cost of producing or distributing the drug,” according to the AP report. The report notes that “[c]oncerns about sky-high drug prices have been building for years nationally” and “boiled over last year after it was revealed that Turing Pharmaceuticals and Canadian drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals were hiking prices on previously low-priced medicines for patients with heart problems and other life-threatening conditions.” The bill is now with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan for his signature, and while a spokesman for the governor “said Hogan will review the bill before deciding whether to sign it,” the bill passed the legislature “with bipartisan support in both houses, more than enough to override a veto by the governor,” according to the AP report.
New York AG Eric Schneiderman has announced a new program that “will provide up to $20 million in support to help local governments improve their data systems so they can develop innovative and operational strategies for housing improvement, code enforcement, and blight elimination,” according to a press release. The press release states that the program is intended to “address and transform problem properties – including homes and buildings that are blighted, poorly maintained, vacant, abandoned, and in financial distress – that fell into disrepair following the foreclosure crisis.” The program is the “Cities for Responsible Investment and Strategic Enforcement” or “Cities RISE.” A request for applications has been issued for New York state municipalities to apply to receive grants under the program, and applications are due May 5, according to the press release. The press release notes that the program is funded by AG Schneiderman’s “2016 settlements with Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs for practices that contributed to the housing crisis.”
A coalition of 15 states, led by Texas AG Ken Paxton, has filed an amicus brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the Trump administration’s March 6 Executive Order on immigration. That order “provides for a temporary suspension of entry into the U.S. for refugees from six countries of national security concern while the vetting process is reviewed,” according to a Texas AG press release. The Trump administration is appealing a Hawaii federal district court order that halted implementation of aspects of that Executive Order, and the Ninth Circuit will hear oral argument in the case in May. In their amicus brief, the states argue in part that the Executive Order “falls within the Executive Branch’s strongest area of authority . . . because it draws support not only from the President’s own foreign-affairs and national-security powers, but also from Congress’s delegated authorization . . . over the admission of aliens into the country.” The states ask the court to “reverse the district court’s order enjoining the Executive Order.” AG Paxton also issued a statement that “President Trump’s revised immigration order is necessary to protect the homeland from those who wish us harm.”
California AG Xavier Becerra has announced that “California will continue to prohibit state-funded and state-sponsored travel and expenditures to North Carolina based on that state’s discriminatory laws,” according to a press release. The press release states that the decision “was reached following North Carolina’s enactment of House Bill 142 (H.B. 142). While this bill repealed the state’s controversial ‘bathroom bill’ (H.B. 2), H.B. 142 bans state and local entities, including universities, from prohibiting discrimination in public restrooms and changing facilities.” The press release notes that California law, A.B. 1887, “prohibits state-funded and state-sponsored travel to and expenditures in states with laws that discriminate against the LGBT community.”