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AG Reyes Urges Congress to Pass Legislation Allowing Marijuana-Related Business to Access the Banking System

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 8, 2019

AG REYES JOINS COALITION OF 38 STATES URGING CONGRESS TO PASS LEGISLATION ALLOWING MARIJUANA-RELATED BUSINESS TO ACCESS THE BANKING SYSTEM

SALT LAKE CITYUtah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes today joined a bipartisan coalition of 38 states and territorial attorneys general urging Congress to pass the federal Secure and Fair Enforcement, or SAFE, Banking Act or similar measures that would give legal marijuana-related businesses access to the federal banking system.

“I urge Congress to be proactive and face the reality that legislation is crucial to providing structure to a business that’s growing exponentially,” Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes said. “In Utah, we need to address the business side of our state’s medical marijuana law. The Utah Legislature, Governor Gary R. Herbert, and State Treasurer David Damschen are equally invested in seeking a solution to this reality. If we don’t act, there could be serious issues for both state government and our financial institutions. This is both a public safety and state’s rights issue.”

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 172 cosponsors in the U.S. House. The House Financial Services Committee approved the bill in March and now it awaits a vote by the full House.

With the backing of 38 of the nation’s attorneys general, the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) has chosen to endorse the legislation as one of its official policy positions. Historically, NAAG endorses less than a dozen policies a year.

The coalition of states and territories includes Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, the Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

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NOTES:
1. Find the full text of H.R. 1595 – SAFE Banking Act of 2019 here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/1595?q=%7B%22search%22%3A%5B%22SAFE+Banking+Act%22%5D%7D&s=1&r=

2. The full text of the NAAG letter to Congress can be read here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/NAAG-Letter-SAFE-Banking-Act-of-2019.pdf

3. During the last Legislative Session, the Utah Senate presented a concurrent resolution urging legal medical cannabis banking in an effort to resolve this issue. You can read the entire resolution here: https://le.utah.gov/~2019/bills/static/SCR007.html

Utah AG Joins National Effort Urging the FCC to Take Action Against Robocalls

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 7, 2019

Utah Attorney General Joins National Effort Urging the FCC to Take Action Against Robocalls, Caller ID Spoofing

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a bipartisan coalition of 42 attorneys general, calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take further action to stop the growing proliferation of illegal robocalls and spoofing.

The attorneys general delivered formal legal comments to the FCC urging the adoption of its proposed caller ID spoofing rules and enforcement. These rules specifically address calls to the United States that originated from overseas and includes spoofing in text messaging and alternative voice services. These provisions included in the FCC appropriations authorization bill are also known as the RAY BAUM’s Act of 2018.

From the comments to the FCC:

The exponential growth in unlawful scam robocalls is putting more and more of our vulnerable populations at risk. The Commission’s new rules cannot come soon enough.

“Not only are these robocalls and spoof phone calls annoying, they’re illegal,” said Attorney General Reyes. “As Attorney General, I call on the FCC to take immediate action in order to protect Utah consumers from scams that too often victimize our citizens.”
 
Francine A. Giani, Executive Director for the Utah Department of Commerce stated, “The Utah Department of Commerce, Division of Consumer Protection supports all efforts to combat deceptive spoofing, bogus text messages and illegal robocalls pinging consumers’ phones. These phony scams continue to be a huge problem where too many consumers are losing money, so let’s look for solutions.”
 
The number of spoofed calls and the consumer financial losses tied to these scams have increased by nearly 50 percent in recent years. The offices of the Utah Attorney General and the Utah Department of Commerce receive many complaints about these calls every month.
 
Robocalls increased in the U.S. by 57 percent from 2017 to 2018. Additionally, in 2018, the FCC reports that Americans received almost 18 billion scam robocalls resulting in nearly $488 million lost.
 
The coalition sending formal comments to the FCC was led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and included Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

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NOTES:
1. A copy of the comments to the FCC from the 42 state attorneys general can be found here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/FCC-Spam-Spoofing-petition.pdf.

Utah AG Joins Bipartisan Coalition in Defending Law that Protects Native American Children

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 18, 2019

UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL SEAN D. REYES JOINS BIPARTISAN COALITION OF ATTORNEYS GENERAL IN BRIEF DEFENDING LAW THAT PROTECTS NATIVE AMERICAN CHILDREN

SALT LAKE CITY – On Monday, Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a bipartisan coalition of 21 states in filing an amicus brief in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to defend the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in Brakeen v. Zinke. ICWA is a 40-year-old federal law that furthers the best interests of Native American children and protects the sovereignty of Indian tribes by preserving children’s connections to their tribal heritage.
 
“The future of our Native American nations relies upon their youth learning and integrating the proud history, traditions and culture of their people within our broader society. ICWA accomplishes this while still providing needed protections to indigenous children,” said Attorney General Reyes. “I’m pleased to work in a bipartisan effort with sister states to defend this law. ICWA works in Utah. The State supports it and our First Nation friends support it. ICWA properly balances the safety and needs of children along with tribal and societal interests.”  
 
First enacted in 1978, ICWA was a response to a history of culturally insensitive and ignorant removal of Indian children from their birth families.i This resulted in the separation of Indian children from not only their families, but their tribes and heritage as well. ICWA’s purpose is to “protect the best interests of Indian children and promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families by the establishment of minimum Federal standards” to be utilized in child welfare proceedings involving Native American children.ii 

Attorney General Reyes continued, “It’s imperative Native American youth stay with their families and tribes whenever possible. There is tremendous cultural importance in this for the children and the nations. As one with heritage from a Native people, I am sensitive to this issue. The Native Hawaiian language was almost lost forever, until it was once again taught to our children in schools and at home.”
 
In this case, individual plaintiffs, along with the states of Texas, Louisiana, and Indiana, sued the U.S. Department of the Interior and its now-former Secretary Ryan Zinke to challenge the law. In October 2018, the district court for the Northern District of Texas agreed and struck down much of ICWA on constitutional grounds. The brief filed today by Attorney General Reyes and 21 other Attorneys General argues that ICWA is an appropriate exercise of Congress’s broad authority to legislate in the field of Indian affairs and does not violate the Tenth Amendment or equal protection principles. The brief also highlights ICWA’s important role in reducing disparities in child removal rates and improving the collaboration between states and tribes relating to their shared interest in improving the health and welfare of Native American children.iii
 
Attorney General Reyes joined the Attorneys General of California, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin in filing the brief. 

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i. About ICWA » NICWA. (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.nicwa.org/about-icwa/
ii. Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.bia.gov/bia/ois/dhs/icwa
iii. A copy of the brief can be found here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Brackeen-Amicus.pdf

Photo Credit: Romel Jacinto


Utah AG Defends Law to Protect Native American Children

January 15, 2019

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a bipartisan coalition of 21 state attorneys general on Monday in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to defend the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in Brakeen v. Zinke. 

ICWA is a 40-year-old federal law that furthers the best interests of Native American children and protects the sovereignty of Indian tribes by preserving children’s connections to their tribal heritage. It was first enacted in 1943 as a response to a history of culturally insensitive and ignorant removal of Indian children from their birth families.

ICWA’s purpose is to “protect the best interests of Indian children and promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families by the establishment of minimum Federal standards” to be utilized in child welfare proceedings involving Native American children.

Attorneys general in the states of California, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin joined Attorney General Reyes in arguing that ICWA is an appropriate exercise of Congress’s broad authority to legislate in the field of Indian affairs and does not violate the Tenth Amendment or equal protection principles.

The brief highlights ICWA’s important role in reducing disparities in child removal rates and improving the collaboration between states and tribes relating to their shared interest in improving the health and welfare of Native American children.

“The future of our Native American nations relies upon their youth learning and integrating the proud history, traditions and culture of their people within our broader society. ICWA accomplishes this while still providing needed protections to indigenous children,” said Attorney General Reyes. “I’m pleased to work in a bipartisan effort with sister states to defend this law. ICWA works in Utah. The State supports it and our First Nation friends support it. ICWA properly balances the safety and needs of children along with tribal and societal interests.”

Read the full press release here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/ag-protects-native-american-children/

Photo by Visit Mississippi

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