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.
Illinois AG Lisa Madigan has filed a lawsuit against “PALMco Power IL LLC (Palmco) . . . for misleading customers about the true cost of switching their electricity supply” from certain other suppliers to Palmco, according to an Illinois AG press release. According to that press release, “Palmco’s sales pitch  promised consumers will save money on their electric bills by switching to [Palmco’s] electric supply,” and Palmco “persuaded people to sign up by offering them a low introductory rate for two months.” The lawsuit alleges that “starting in at least January 2014, Palmco charged its customers rates consistently higher than ComEd or Ameren’s rates after the introductory period ended. In fact, customers’ rates increased dramatically after the expiration of the introductory rate to levels that were over 300 percent of what they would have paid if they had stayed with their utility,” according to the press release. The lawsuit further alleges that Palmco sales agents “made misrepresentations to consumers over the phone and via door-to-door sales, including representing that they were affiliated with the consumer’s utility, that the consumer’s utility was going out of business or changing its name, and that the consumer was required to sign up with Palmco,” according to the press release.
Rhode Island AG Peter Kilmartin has introduced legislation that would require “prospective drivers” for “ride-hailing app companies” such as Uber and Lyft to be fingerprinted and “go through a national criminal records check,” according to a report in The Mercury News. According to that report, Rhode Island adopted a law last year that “legalized ride-hailing app companies and regulates them,” but that did not include a fingerprinting requirement “after Uber and other companies strongly objected.” Kilmartin had opposed that legislation, saying that there was “no plausible reason” why ride-hailing companies “should be exempt from the fingerprint checks required for many occupations,” per the report. Kilmartin is also “troubled by Uber’s insistence on using a third-party private company, San Francisco-based Checkr, to do its background checks,” and has called for “an independent source” to perform the checks, according to the report. The report also notes that “Massachusetts began running Uber and Lyft drivers through stringent statewide background checks this year, . . . [and] Connecticut is also considering a fingerprint requirement in pending legislation.”
Seventeen state AGs and the governors of Kentucky and Mississippi have written a letter calling on Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt to “end  the federal overreach that characterized the EPA’s unlawful regulatory actions during the Obama-era,” according to a news release from Texas AG Ken Paxton. Specifically, the letter requests that Administrator Pruitt “reexamine delegation of certain environmental regulation authority to the States in accordance with the express terms of the Clean Air and Water Acts,” which are federal laws that the letter states “acknowledge basic truths: that the primary regulators of the environment are the States and local governments.” AG Paxton’s news release states that “[o]ne example of federal overreach . . . is Texas’ plan for Regional Haze,” which “set reasonable regulations . . . to ensure air quality was sufficiently high to allow good visibility,” however the EPA “rejected the plan and imposed federal guidelines that cost $2 billion – without achieving any visibility changes.” The letter asks that AG Pruitt “consider the steps that the [EPA] may take to restore the principles of cooperative federalism embodied in” the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.