Skip to content
Main Menu
Utah Attorney General
Search
Attorney General
Sean D. Reyes
Utah Office of the Attorney General
Alerts
Close
Secondary Navigation

Attorney General Reyes Joins Coalition of 34 States Urging Congress to Allow Marijuana-related Business to Access the Banking System

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 22, 2020

ATTORNEY GENERAL SEAN REYES JOINS COALITION OF 34 STATES URGING CONGRESS TO PASS LEGISLATION ALLOWING MARIJUANA-RELATED BUSINESS TO ACCESS THE BANKING SYSTEM
Utah Treasurer David Damschen and Utah Bankers Association in Support of This Effort

SALT LAKE CITY  –  The badly needed gap between federal regulations and the lack of access to financial institutions for medical and legal use marijuana businesses is being addressed with proposed federal legislation that has the support of Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, Utah Treasurer David Damschen and the President of the Utah Banking Association, Howard Headlee.

Attorney General Reyes today joined a bipartisan coalition of 34 state and territorial attorneys general urging Congress to pass, as part of upcoming COVID-19 relief legislation the federal Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act (H.R. 1595) or similar measures that would give legal marijuana-related businesses access to the federal banking system.

“This bill would allow Utah to make critically needed changes regarding legal medical cannabis transactions in our state,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes.  “Utah worked hard to find a sensible, humane and balanced approach to medical marijuana policy. But current federal law prevents access to insured financial institutions for businesses in this industry. That creates significant practical and public safety issues for both the general public and for Utah businesses legally operating in the medical cannabis space.” 
 
Utah Treasurer David Damschen said, “There is no silver bullet to address the cannabis banking problem on the state level. We need the federal government to respect the move among states toward varying degrees of legalization and to better harmonize its laws regarding cannabis-related activities, particularly with respect to banking regulation.”
 
Damschen continued, “The inability of insured financial institutions to handle cannabis-related transactions has forced businesses and governments throughout the U.S. to resort to cash to settle transactions. This represents an enormous public safety issue, increasing risk of violent crime, fraud, and theft. Providing regulated and insured financial services to cannabis businesses allows law enforcement, and specifically the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) within the U.S. Department of Treasury, the transparency needed to distinguish legal cannabis businesses from illegal activity.”
 
Utah Banking Association President Howard Headlee said, “Utah Banks offer critical services for small businesses to deposit their daily receipts, manage cash flow, secure loans and protect assets.  The changes outlined in the SAFE Banking Act will allow the new medical marijuana businesses to operate just as every other law-abiding business does in our state.  We will be able to safely accommodate a sector that otherwise would be relegated to untenable methods just to operate normally.”
 
Under existing law, federal regulators prohibit financial institutions from providing services to marijuana businesses in states where medical or retail marijuana sales are legal. Forcing legal businesses to operate as cash-only operations poses serious safety threats, creating targets for violent and white-collar crime. The SAFE Banking Act permits marijuana-related businesses in states and territories with existing regulatory structures to access the federal banking system.

The SAFE Banking Act has widespread, bipartisan support with 206 cosponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives. The House passed the bill in September 2019. The HEROES Act relief legislation, which the House approved last week, also included the language of the SAFE Banking Act.
 
In their letter, the attorneys general note that the COVID-19 pandemic has shed new light on problems that the SAFE Banking Act is intended to remediate, including health and safety concerns stemming from frequent and large cash exchanges.
 
The full text of the letter can be read here.
 

###

COVID-19 Liability Protections: AG Reyes, 20 State Attorneys General Ask Congress to Help Stop Frivolous Lawsuits

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 14, 2020

COVID-19 Liability Protections: Attorney General Reyes and 20 Other State Attorneys General Ask Congress to Help Stop Frivolous Lawsuits

SALT LAKE CITY –Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes has joined a 21-state coalition in urging Congress to protect businesses who provide much-needed goods and services from frivolous lawsuits specific to COVID-related litigation. In the wake of this unprecedented crisis, the extension of appropriate post-pandemic liability protections is needed at both the state and federal levels for businesses, manufacturers of personal protective equipment, first responders, healthcare workers, healthcare facilities and members of law enforcement, among others.

The letter also underscores the need to ensure that victims are able to seek legal redress and compensation where appropriate.

In the letter, the attorneys general wrote:

“Civil liability protections should not, however, be extended to businesses engaging in willful misconduct, reckless infliction of harm or intentional infliction of harm We believe criminal penalties, regulatory fines and agency oversight should be able to capture bad actors and civil lawsuits should be available for any citizens hurt by a business or individual acting with disregard for safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Attorney General Reyes said, “Right now, as our economies reopen, we need a stable, predictable legal environment more than ever.  Our economy will only recover if customers and employees have the confidence to return to the marketplace.

“At the same time, we must ensure people don’t try to take advantage of this crisis by stifling the economy with a glut of plaintiffs cases targeting well-intentioned businesses for taking reasonable pandemic measures. 

“My colleagues and I feel this nation needs a common sense framework to ensure our states have a legal and regulatory environment that balances protecting consumers while allowing free enterprise to thrive.

“Certainly, there must be some redress for wrongs suffered. But not every injury has a remedy in the courts. And opportunistic, aggressive plaintiff lawsuits that rely less on facts or the law than on the burden of defending litigation will impede economic recovery and end up hurting long term the very class of plaintiffs they are purporting to help.

“Thus, we call on Congress to ensure businesses have clearly defined expectations for the safe and appropriate continuance of operations while being protected from devastating civil liability litigation concerning baseless COVID-related claims.”

States across the country have recognized the need for timely, targeted and tailored civil liability protections in light of the pandemic. To date, over 20 states have enacted liability protections for first responders and healthcare workers.

The following states’ attorneys general signed onto the letter: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.

Read a copy of the letter here.

TRACED Act Signed Into Law, Will Provide Protection Against Robocalls

January 3, 2020

On Tuesday, President Donald J. Trump signed the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act into law. This legislation addresses the concerns raised by American consumers and will stiffen penalties, increase transparency, and enhance government collaboration to provide protection against and end the proliferation of illegal, unsolicited robocalls.

In March 2019, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined with 54 attorneys general in sending a letter to Congress to express support for the TRACED Act. The attorneys general applauded the requirement that voice service providers must participate in the call authentication framework, and the prioritization of timely, industry-wide implementation of these protocols.

From the letter to Congress:

“We believe that this legislation effectively addresses many of the concerns raised by federal regulators, voice service providers, private businesses, consumer advocacy groups, and other interested parties to combat illegal robocalls and spoofing, and we are heartened that it enables the telecom industry, federal regulators, and our offices to take meaningful steps to abate the rapid proliferation of these illegal and unwanted robocalls.”

Robocalls increased in the U.S. by 57% from 2017 to 2018. In 2018, it was estimated that the number of illegal robocalls reached almost 48 billion.

“Robocalls have become more than just a persistent disruption in the lives of Utahns. So many of these calls are, at best, a vexatious nuisance or, at worst, a scam. I commend President Trump and Congress working together to provide protection and relief for all of us against illegal robocalls,” said Attorney General Reyes. “My office and the Utah Division of Consumer Protection receive numerous complaints each month and far too many Utahans are victimized by these illegal robocalls. The TRACED Act finally gives criminal enforcement authority to regulators to deter robodial abuses and return control of phone lines to everyday Americans.”

Read the TRACED Act here.

Utah Attorney General and 10-state Coalition Obtains Victory in Blocking the 2015 WOTUS Rule

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 22, 2019



UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL AND 10-STATE COALITION OBTAINS VICTORY IN BLOCKING THE 2015 WOTUS RULE


SALT LAKE CITY—Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes today announced that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia granted summary judgment in favor of Utah and 9 other states in their lawsuit challenging the Obama Administration’s 2015 Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule and kept an injunction against the Rule in place while federal agencies finalize its replacement.

“The 2015 WOTUS Rule is a clear example for federal overreach that infringed on the States’ traditional role as primary regulators of land and water resources within their borders,” said Attorney General Reyes. “We are proud to have fought for this relief, and we look forward to reforms that will permanently relieve farmers and landowners of the unnecessary burdens that the 2015 WOTUS Rule created.” 

In its ruling issued Wednesday afternoon, the court held that the 2015 WOTUS Rule “extend[ed] the Agencies’ delegated authority beyond the limits of the [Clean Water Act]” in a number of ways and also violated multiple procedural requirements for issuing the Rule set out in the federal Administrative Procedure Act. The court explained, “Congress has delegated the important role of protecting the nation’s waters to the Agencies, but in fulfilling that role, the Agencies must comply with the law. Here, they have failed to do just that.” As a result, the court left in place its preliminary injunction that blocks the rule from going into effect in any of the coalition states while the agencies “continue their efforts to change the WOTUS Rule in light of the serious defects identified in this Order.” 

Background: Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Army proposed rules that would rescind and replace the 2015 WOTUS Rule. In April of this year, Utah joined 16 other states in submitting comments supporting that proposal. Read more here.

Led by the Georgia Solicitor General’s Unit, the 10-state coalition in this case also included the following states: Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

###

NOTES:

  1. Read a copy of the ruling here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Georgia-v.-Wheeler-order-granting-summary-judgment.pdf.
Site SettingsSettings