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Combating Violence with Kindness

COMBATING VIOLENCE WITH KINDNESS
Utah Legislature Passes Resolution Designating April as #MSDkindness Month

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Legislature passed HCR 22, Concurrent Resolution Designating April as #MSDkindness Month, which aims to pay tribute to the victims who lost their lives in the senseless act of violence that was committed against students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, 2018.

The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Paul Ray (R-Clinton) and Sen. Daniel Thatcher (R-West Valley), designates April as Act of Kindness month to encourage Utahns to perform random acts of kindness to honor the victims of Parkland, Florida. In honor of #MSDKindness, a feature was added to the SafeUT so users could report acts of kindness in addition to incidents of crisis. People are encouraged to report their acts of kindness during April through SafeUT, which has been designed to improve school safety and help students access critical mental health resources. These acts of kindness will highlight the good of the community while engaging students in using an app that aims to help prevent future acts of violence.

Ryan Petty, the father of 14-year-old Alaina who lost her life during the recent attack in Florida, stated: 

“It is my goal to makes sure that my daughter’s legacy is remembered as one not of tragedy, but of hope, service, and love. It is also my goal to make sure this time will be different because we are going to focus on school safety initiatives to prevent anyone else from going through what we have gone through these past few weeks. I am grateful to the sponsors and supporters of this initiative who are working diligently to accomplish both of these goals.”

Rep. Ray added:

“The purpose of this resolution is to focus on the hope that comes from the strength of families, like the Petty’s. Their determination is an example to us all on how to persevere through challenging times and bring about positive change to school safety. My heart goes out to families during this time of unthinkable loss. Utah is ready to lead by taking actions to promote acts of kindness as well as developing the Davis School District mental wellness program that can serve as a model for schools around the state and nation.”

“With the noise of the world getting louder every day, simple acts of kindness are the best way to get to the root of the problem,” said Sen. Thatcher. “In fact, it may be the only way.”

“My heart also goes out to the perpetrator of this evil and senseless act,” said Petty. “And I wonder if somebody had put their arms around this young man a few months ago or a few years ago, would his life have been different? How much would the lives of the 17 families who have been impacted by the choices he made be different.”

SafeUT was launched in January 2016, following the passage of SB 175, School Safety and Crisis Line. Attorney General Sean Reyes, chair, and Rep. Steve Eliason and Sen. Thatcher are on the SafeUT Commission, which serves as a powerful tool for dealing with school safety, teen suicide, and the opioid epidemic. The Pettys have publicly encouraged Florida Governor Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi for the adoption of a version of the SafeUT in the Sunshine State.

Attorney General Reyes spoke up regarding the resolution: 

“By designating April Kindness month, we want to encourage a little kindness to go a long way. One small act of kindness can change the trajectory of a life. In doing this we honor the legacy of those children and families in Parkland, Florida, many of whom were dedicated to acts of kindness and service and all of whom deserved more years to accomplish them. By celebrating their lives, we hopefully remind ourselves that we are all part of one large human family. We hope our challenge to other states continues a wave of kindness that will cascade over the nation and turn such tragedy into a little bit of light. Thank you to the Petty family for being an inspiration to us. Alaina has become one of our heroes for her kindness.”

The Reyes Family Foundation, The Grand America Hotel, and M. Peterson Consulting hosted the Petty Family while they were in Utah.

The resolution also challenges other states to claim the remaining months in the year to carry on the legacy of kindness and service left by those who lost their lives in this tragic incident. Two cities in Washington, Camas, and Washougal, have already declared March as their month of kindness to honor the victims of this singular act of violence.

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NOTES: 

  1. Watch the press conference here.
  2. You can read the entire resolution here: https://le.utah.gov/~2018/bills/static/HCR022.html.

UTAH JOINS LAWSUIT AGAINST OBAMACARE

UTAH JOINS LAWSUIT AGAINST OBAMACARE
Twenty Attorneys General Challenge Constitutionality of Affordable Care Act

 

This week, Attorney General Sean Reyes joined a 20-state coalition lawsuit against the federal government, challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. The lawsuit asserts that since the tax reform passed by Congress eliminated the tax penalty of the ACA’s individual mandate, the ACA is now unlawful.

“Utah has always believed that the ACA was an impermissible overreach of federal authority,” said Attorney General Reyes. “The Commerce Clause gives Congress the power to regulate commerce but not to compel it. The U.S. Supreme Court defined the individual mandate penalty as a tax which made the ACA constitutional. Because the recent tax reform legislation eliminated that penalty, Obamacare is no longer legally viable. This lawsuit will clear the path for the states and Congress to move forward with solutions that work better for Americans and are in line with constitutional limits on government power. We hope small business, individuals, and families whose costs and premiums increased dramatically due to the ACA can finally get much deserved relief.”

The Supreme Court construed the penalty as a tax, even though Congress had repeatedly denied that it was a tax and upheld the mandate as a permissible exercise of the taxing power. The Court and the DOJ under President Obama’s Administration repeatedly emphasized that the mandate was not severable from the rest of the ACA – that is, if the mandate was unconstitutional, the entire law must go.

Joining Utah in the coalition, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, are Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

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NOTES: 

  1. You can read the copy of the complaint here: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/files/epress/Texas_Wisconsin_et_al_v._U.S._et_al_-_ACA_Complaint_(02-26-18).pdf.

AG Reyes and D.C. Opioid Press Conference

Attorney General Sean Reyes joined U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, along with several other state’s AGs, to address the nation’s opioid epidemic and deliver a new opioid policy announcement in a press conference in Washington, D.C. yesterday. AG Reyes shared about the effect of the epidemic in Utah and steps being taken to fight the addiction and trafficking of drugs statewide. In his statement, Reyes said,

“When we work together, we work best. There is hope, as devastating as this issue is, working together we can overcome and eradicate this threat from our communities.” 

To watch the entire press conference, go here: https://www.justice.gov/live. AG Reyes starts his statement about the fight in Utah at 30:22. 

See KUTV2’s coverage of the event below. 

 

 


ICAC Task Force Featured on ABC4’s Behind the Badge

Don Hudson of ABC4 featured the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, part of the Justice Division of the Utah Attorney General’s Office, on last Friday’s Behind the Badge.

 

 

The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) is a multi-jurisdictional task force that investigates and prosecutes individuals who use the Internet to exploit children. The Utah Attorney General (UAG) ICAC Task Force was created in 2000 and is now one of 61 ICAC task forces in the country. They focus on crimes related to sexual exploitation of a minor – whether possessing, distributing, or manufacturing child pornagraphy, enticing minors over the internet, or exchanging material deemed harmful to minors. The UAG ICAC Task Force has 32 local, state, and federal police agencies involved in the task force.

You can learn more about ICAC and how to keep your family safe, check out the ICAC Task Force here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/justice/internet-crimes-against-children-icac-task-force.


SafeUT App Downloaded Over 5,000 Times

On the heels of the deadly attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Utah itself experienced a string of high school threats of violence that resulted in the investigations at four different schools: Box Elder Middle School, Eastmont Middle School, Wasatch High School, and Springville High School. To help raise awareness of a tool that can help, KSL-TV and KSL Newsradio yesterday invited schools across the state to participate in a effort called Stand Up for a SafeUT. The day was dedicated to  highlighting the SafeUT App, how it can help with crisis interventions, and how it has helped thousands of students already.

The SafeUT App is a statewide service that provides real-time interactions straight from your smartphone. Licensed clinicians, from the University Neuropsychiatric Institute at the University of Utah Health, are available 24/7 to respond to all incoming chats, texts, and calls. They provide supportive and crisis counseling, suicide prevention, and referral services. Additionally, students can submit confidential tips to school administrators on bullying, threats, or violence. 

 

 

The SafeUT App was created out of an effort to stem the rising tide of teen suicide in the state. In 2014, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and State Senator Daniel Thatcher proposed legislation to form a commission to explore solutions. AG Reyes, Sen. Thatcher and representatives from the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI), Utah Office of Education, and the School Safety and Crisis Line Commission unveiled the SafeUT Crisis & Safety Tipline for Utah students in 2016. 

Since its release, the SafeUT App has been downloaded over 33,000 times and clinicians have had conversations with over 19,000 students. The conversations range from bullying and depression, to suicide, cutting, and drugs. Currently, over 1900 tips or chats are sent in on average monthly, an increase from a monthly average of 160 two years ago. In addition, a whopping 86 planned school attacks have been stopped since 2016. 

 

 

Due to the spotlight from KSL, the SafeUT App has been downloaded over 5,000 times since coverage began on Wednesday. This is a monumental step towards protecting the children of Utah, keeping them safe, and alive.

Download the SafeUT app through the Apple App Store or Google Play. 

You can learn about the SafeUT app here: https://healthcare.utah.edu/uni/clinical-services/safe-ut/

For SafeUT statistics, go here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/SafeUT-Infographic.pdfSafeUT Infographic.

For more information about suicide and its impact on young children and teens in Utah, the Utah Health Department has an entire section dedicated to information surrounding youth suicide. You can find that here: http://health.utah.gov/vipp/teens/youth-suicide/ and statistical information here: http://health.utah.gov/vipp/data/suicide.html.


AG Reyes Co-leads NAAG Effort to Pass CLOUD Act

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes AND Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan Lead Bipartisan Coalition Urging Congress to Pass the CLOUD Act
36 Attorneys General Join Letter Calling on Congress to Pass Law

In a bipartisan letter sponsored by Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan, and signed by the attorneys general of 34 other States, the National Association of Attorneys General today urged Congress to pass the Clarify Lawful Overseas Use of Data (CLOUD) Act.  The CLOUD Act would update and amend several provisions of the Stored Communications Act (SCA).

The CLOUD Act, as stated in the letter,

“confirms law enforcement’s ability to obtain probable-caused based warrants for electronic communications stored abroad and creates a clear avenue for service providers to challenge an SCA warrant that targets a foreign person and which would require a provider to violate foreign law. The Act also creates incentives for our foreign partners to enter into bilateral agreements that will facilitate cross-border criminal investigations while ensuring that privacy and civil liberties are respected.”

Under the SCA, a law enforcement agency may obtain a warrant to search an individual’s email or another online account if a reviewing court finds probable cause that the account contains evidence of a crime. Once issued, an SCA warrant is served on a service provider who must then collect the requested data and provide it to law enforcement. State and local law enforcement agencies routinely use SCA warrants to investigate all manner of local crime, from drug trafficking to murder and child sexual exploitation.

Recently, however, some service providers have argued that an SCA warrant cannot be enforced when the data being sought is stored on a foreign server, even if the provider and the customer who created the data are in the United States and that data can be accessed from the United States. The providers and others have argued that requiring compliance with an SCA warrant in this situation would be an extraterritorial application of a domestic law and would raise significant privacy and international comity concerns. This dispute has spawned litigation across the country, including the case of United States v. Microsoft, which is currently pending in the United States Supreme Court. The letter urges Congress to pass the CLOUD Act as “an important step toward resolving this dispute.”

The letter was joined by the attorneys general of Vermont, Utah, Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. 

 

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NOTES:

  1. Find a PDF copy of the letter at https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Final-2.21-CLOUD-Act-Letter.pdf.
  2. AG Sean Reyes wrote an op-ed for The Hill about privacy in a digital era. Read it here: http://thehill.com/opinion/technology/364220-we-must-reconcile-privacy-and-safety-in-the-digital-era.

 


AG Files National Monuments Amicus Brief

The cases challenging President Trump’s recent diminishment of two national monuments in the State of Utah are slated to be heard half a continent away.  We believe they should be heard locally.

This week, the Utah Attorney General filed a friend of the court brief in Washington, D.C. on behalf of the State of Utah, Garfield County, Kane County, and San Juan County.  It supports the Department of Justice’s request to transfer these two cases to Utah.

We argue that a court in Utah should hear these cases because

(1) Utah’s interests in them are greater than the interests of Washington, D.C.; and

(2) The cases could significantly affect Utah’s property interests in, and rights on, those lands.

You can read the Amicus Brief here: Consolidated Utah Monuments Amicus Brief.

 


Fighting Against the Opioid Epidemic

Utah currently ranks 4th in the nation for opioid drug overdose deaths, losing six people a week to the epidemic. This is a national health crisis and a priority of the Attorney General’s office since Sean D. Reyes took office.

In June, Attorney General Sean Reyes joined Brian Besser, DEA District Agent in Charge, in creating an executive Opioid Task Force to address the epidemic. The task force consists of skilled partners, including Speaker Greg Hughes, Rep. Carol Spackman Moss, Rep. Steve Eliason, Senator Evan Vickers, Councilmember Jenny Wilson from the Salt Lake County Council, members of law enforcement, the medical community, academia, and congressional delegation staffers.

The Attorney General’s Office has been diligently working to help stem the tide of the opioid addiction in the state. Below is a list of actions taken by AG Reyes and the Opioid Task Force for the last few years.

2014 
FEB: Arrest of Victor Rax – known drug & human trafficker.

2015
OCT:  AG Reyes urges Congress to pass the Comprehensive & Addiction Recovery Act of 2015.

2016
JUL:    AG Reyes joins investigation by a bipartisan coalition of 41 state attorneys general seeking documents and information from manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids.

OCT:   AG Reyes files a lawsuit with 36 other AGs against Suboxone, an opioid addiction treatment drug, for blocking generic competitors.

2017
APR:   AG Reyes promotes turning in unused prescription drugs on for Utah Takeback Day.

MAY:  AG Reyes creates Opioid Task Force with DEA, Utah legislators, community members, and public health officials to act against the opioid epidemic.

JUN:   In conjunction with the DEA, Utah AGO assists in one of the largest heroin busts in Utah history, arresting 35 conspirators.

SEPT: AG Reyes urges health insurance companies to examine financial incentives that contribute to the opioid epidemic in Utah by co-authoring a letter with a coalition of 37 states and territories.

OCT:   AG Reyes joins a bipartisan group of AG’s encouraging 15 healthcare companies that provide pharmacy benefit management services to implement programs that mitigate prescription opioid abuse.

Utah Opioid Task Force alerts health care providers and law enforcement that Naloxone rescue kits, are legal and only used as an antidote to reverse an opiate overdose.

NOV:  AG Reyes advocates for and assists DEA in bringing DEA 360 to Utah.

DEC:   AG Reyes invited to White House to consult with on President Trump’s declaration of opioid crisis a “health emergency.”

MISC: AG Reyes partners to create the number for mental health support.

 


AGO Recognizes Susan B. Anthony Day

Attorney General Sean Reyes issued the following statement for Susan B. Anthony Day 2018:

“Today we celebrate Susan B. Anthony and her legacy of women’s rights and social reform. She remains, to this day, a prominent leader and instrumental voice in the fight for social equality and a woman’s right to vote. Her steadfastness in the face of persecution, ridicule, and harassment is a testament to those of us who long to make a similar impact in our own arenas.

 

Susan said, “There never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers.” We at the Utah Attorney General’s office agree and are proud to partner with organizations like Better Days 2020, who are raising awareness about the value of women leaders in civil and corporate communities, such as Utah’s Martha Hughes Cannon. Being surrounded by strong women – mother, wife, colleagues – I know the value women bring to the decision-making table and want to make sure there are more chairs available. By doing so, we honor the work of women like Susan B. Anthony and all those who dedicated their lives to this end.”


Utah Attorney General

Attorney General Reyes’ Statement on School Shooting in Parkland, Florida

This evening, Attorney General Sean Reyes released the following statement regarding the school shooting in Parkland, Florida earlier today.

“Our hearts are breaking for the families of the shooting victims at Douglas High School in Florida. I can’t think of a worse nightmare for a parent. Our team has reached out to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to offer our condolences and support should they need additional therapists and advocates to help surviving students and the families of victims. We know Florida has generously sent personnel in the wake of mass shootings in other states.

“The Utah Attorney General’s Office’s Law Enforcement Division, in partnership with the Utah Department of Public Safety, will continue to train officers from around our state in simulated active shooter situations, praying that we will never see a school shooting like today’s and hoping that we will never have to face the tragedy of another Utah mall attack, newsroom assault, or university gunman.”


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