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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.


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.”


Human Traffickers Receive Maximum Penalty

OGDEN COUPLE SENTENCED FOR HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Utah Attorney General’s SECURE Strike Force Headed Up Prosecution

After pleading guilty to two counts each of human trafficking, Lynnsie Reddish and Terrance Jones were sentenced on Monday, January 22nd, to an indeterminate prison sentence of 1-15 years on each count, the maximum sentence for their offenses, for charges investigated and prosecuted by the Office of the Utah Attorney General (OAG).

Last July, the OAG’s SECURE Strike Force arrested and charged Reddish and Jones with sixteen felony offenses, including Aggravated Kidnapping and multiple counts of Human Trafficking, based on evidence of a long-term sex trafficking operation they ran out of a residence in Ogden City.

At a preliminary hearing last July, seven women testified about their experience working for the operation. They testified that Reddish and Jones exploited their drug addictions, poverty, lack of housing, and other vulnerabilities to recruit them to work in commercial sex. According to the women, Jones was the drug supplier and the “muscle” for the operation. He handled payment transactions and nearly all the money made went to him and Reddish.

Two of the women testified to the violence Reddish and Jones used against them when they tried to leave. One woman shared that Reddish and Jones held her in a room, cut off her hair, and beat her with a belt. The other, after refusing to have sex with a “client”, left the house, was chased down, and beat in the street. One of the women Reddish recruited is autistic and meets the definition of a vulnerable adult. According to the victims, Reddish knew about her disability and forced her to work anyway, often beating her up or locking her into a closest when she refused. This victim’s story is part of the basis for an upcoming bill this legislative session to increase penalties for human trafficking of vulnerable adults.

All Human Trafficking victims are referred to Refugee and Immigrant Center – Asian Association of Utah, a partner agency with the Utah Trafficking in Person’s Task Force (UTIP), for aftercare services.

Human trafficking tips should be reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.

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NOTES:

  1. The Utah Attorney General’s SECURE Strike Force is tasked by the Utah legislature with investigating and prosecuting large-scale criminal operations including human trafficking. Read more about the SECURE Strike Force here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/uncategorized/secure-task-force.
  2. For more information about the Utah Trafficking In Persons Task Force, go here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/human-trafficking.
  3. To learn more about the work of the Refugee and Immigrant Center – Asian Association of Utah, check out their website here: https://aau-slc.org/.

Utah Attorney General’s Office Files Amended Complaint in Gold King Lawsuit

Amended complaint adds EPA and other parties to list of defendants

SALT LAKE CITY January 5, 2018 – The Utah Attorney General’s Office filed an amended complaint yesterday in the Gold King Mine blowout lawsuit. The amendment adds the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States, and Weston Solutions, Inc., one of EPA’s contractors, as defendants.
 
Triggered on August 5, 2015, by the EPA and its contractors, the uncontrolled blowout of the Gold King Mine dumped over three million gallons of acid wastes and toxic metals, depositing hazardous wastes along the Animas and San Juan Rivers. The plume reached Lake Powell in Utah just nine days later on August 14, 2015.

“We will continue to work closely with the EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice to assess and monitor damages, devise a remediation plan or other remedies, and attempt to settle this case,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “The amended complaint was necessary to preserve the legal rights of Utah and its citizens and should not be interpreted as a breakdown in settlement discussions. Those negotiations are on-going to work out a settlement unique to Utah and commensurate with the harm.”
 
“The Gold King Mine blowout was an avoidable disaster, and it is critical that those responsible clean up the wastes and compensate Utah for the damages,” said Spencer Austin, Chief Criminal Deputy of the Utah Attorney General’s Office. “We are in talks with the EPA and hope to reach a resolution soon. Settlement in cases of this magnitude often takes years. If litigation should become necessary, the Utah Attorney General’s Office is ready for a fight. But our hope is to reach an agreement to work together with the EPA to protect our environment.”
 
With the amended complaint, the lawsuit names ten parties as defendants, including three EPA contractors and four mine owners.
 
Throughout the process, the State of Utah has been cooperative with the EPA, yet aggressive in holding that agency responsible for its actions. This cooperative approach has already paid dividends for the State of Utah and its people. For example, more than a million dollars has been reimbursed by the EPA to Utah for expenditures related to initial emergency response and monitoring. The EPA under the Pruitt Administration has been particularly responsive and willing to take responsibility for the mining blowout. 
 
A copy of the First Amended Complaint can be found through this link.
 
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AG Reyes Statement on the Passing of LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson

Attorney General Sean Reyes released the following statement regarding the passing of President Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“I love President Thomas S. Monson, and I will miss him. Throughout my life, he has been an example of selfless service and visionary leadership. When I was a young leader of a Latter-day Saint congregation, I looked to President Monson for inspiration and was blessed by his example, and I have continued to look to him for spiritual guidance. His life was a living illustration of individual ministry to the lonely and the downtrodden. His example moved me then, as it does now, to come to the rescue of those in need and to lift those who are weary.

“I will always treasure the quiet interactions we shared together. In his presence, I knew I was speaking to someone intimately familiar with the Lord. Beyond his talks, teachings, and testimony, his service and charity towards his fellowmen were unsurpassed. His love for the human family, like his love for God, was unbounded.

“As a community leader, President Monson was peerless, and yet, he never sought the accolades of the world. His sights were set on a more lasting and transcendent goal of lifting the human spirit and condition to a higher plane. He was blessed with a wry sense of humor and a seemingly bottomless well of stories, a gift for language that he used to touch the lives of millions, as well as to lift each person that he met individually.

“Saysha and I express our sincere and deepest condolences to President Monson’s family, as well as to the members of the LDS Church who are mourning the passing of their prophet. We are all better because of President Monson’s service, and it is my hope that we might all, as he did, come to the rescue of those who are in need around us.”


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