Just over a year ago, the city of Berkeley, California, became the first City in the United States to ban natural gas hookups in new buildings. The trend of municipalities enacting fossil fuel bans, driven by a desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change, has spread across California and a few other states and has now reached the east coast. Yesterday, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Municipal Law Unit struck down the first such municipal fossil fuel ban to come across its desk as inconsistent with the general laws of the Commonwealth.… More
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Last week, a federal judge blocked the enforcement of Massachusetts regulations that temporarily restrict debt collection practices during COVID-19. According to the judge, the regulations violate the First Amendment rights of collection agencies without adding useful protections for consumers.
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey issued the emergency regulations (which Foley Hoag summarized here) on March 27, 2020. The regulations prohibit creditors from confronting a debtor in person,… More
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, state Attorneys General have asserted their authority in a variety of ways, from issuing new guidance and regulations on price-gouging to stepping up enforcement of state laws on employment and health care. Foley Hoag’s team of former senior Attorney General staffers and other attorneys will discuss how AG Offices around the country are refocusing their resources to address the crisis and what that might mean for their non-COVID-19 cases. … More
On Friday March 20, 2020, the FDA warned consumers to be wary of fake at-home COVID-19 test kits appearing on the market. The FDA noted that it had not authorized any at-home testing kits for COVID-19. Further, the FDA warned that fake COVID-19 testing kits and other fraudulent related products and equipment could exacerbate the current crisis by preventing consumers from seeking proper medical treatment. … More
Massachusetts Attorney General Dramatically Expands Price Gouging Regulation in Response to COVID-19
At around noon on March 20, 2020, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey filed emergency regulations dramatically expanding the reach of 940 CMR 3.18, the Commonwealth’s regulation on price gouging. Historically, the regulation has applied only to “petroleum-related businesses,” such as gas stations, during “market emergencies.”
The emergency regulation, however, applies to “any goods or services necessary for the health, safety, or welfare of the public,” such as hand sanitizer and protective gear for medical personnel. … More
Aaron Ford will bring a wide array of legal and political experiences, as well as consumer protection zeal, to the Nevada Attorney General’s Office in his coming four year term. Ford has been a political force in Nevada since his election to the Nevada State Senate in 2012, after which he served as Minority Leader from 2014 – 2016, and Majority Leader from 2016 – 2018, following Nevada Democrats’ re-taking of the Senate chamber in 2016.… More
Last April, I predicted that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s decision to allow Attorney General Maura Healey’s civil investigative demand regarding Exxon’s knowledge of climate change to proceed had “ended a significant chapter in [the] long-running dispute.” In fact, that chapter managed to continue through January 7, 2019, when the United States Supreme Court rejected Exxon’s petition to review the SJC’s decision.
Exxon’s certiorari petition accuses the Massachusetts courts of “a breathtaking assertion of personal jurisdiction” that “flouts core notions of due process,” arguing that Exxon’s ability to control the advertising of its licensees in Massachusetts did not constitute sufficient contact with Massachusetts to be subject to a CID. … More
This blog post is one of a series of posts highlighting newly elected Attorneys General, and commenting on how their priorities may differ from their predecessors’. Click here to read the full series.
Democratic AG-elect Phil Weiser will bring a strong academic and policy background to the Colorado AG’s office in 2019, following his defeat of Republican George Brauchler by a 51.60% to 45.13% margin. … More
On July 26, 2018, a coalition of Democratic state attorneys general sued the Department of Labor to enjoin its new rule on association health plans, which was finalized in June. The Department promulgated the rule in response to an executive order from President Trump, signed in October 2017, that directed various federal agencies to encourage the growth of insurance options outside traditional insurance plans regulated by the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”),… More
On April 13, 2018, Massachusetts’ highest court ended a significant chapter in Exxon’s long-running dispute with Attorney General Maura Healey. In 2015, Healey issued a Civil Investigative Demand regarding Exxon’s knowledge of the effects of fossil fuels on climate change. Exxon then undertook what a federal judge in New York last month called “a sprawling litigation involving four different judges, at least three lawsuits, innumerable motions and a huge waste of the [New York and Massachusetts] AGs’ time and money.” (You can read a full analysis of that decision by my colleague Seth Jaffe here.) Exxon’s actions in Massachusetts’ courts have been mercifully compact,… More
Democratic Attorneys General have continued their efforts to combat the Trump administration’s attempts to roll back environmental regulations developed under the Obama administration in two recent actions. Thirteen AGs, including Massachusetts AG Maura Healey, sent a letter last week to Scott Pruitt, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, threatening legal action if the agency takes steps to weaken or delay the greenhouse gas emissions standards that were established in 2012 for cars and light-duty trucks for model years 2022-2025.… More
In Maryland, unlike in some other states, the attorney general has historically required the governor’s or legislature’s express permission to undertake legal action against the federal government. In late February, that changed with the passage of the Maryland Defense Act of 2017, which would limit the ability of Maryland’s governor – Larry Hogan, a Republican – to stop lawsuits against the federal government brought by Maryland’s attorney general – Brian Frosh,… More
In the late evening on August 15, 2016, a 12-person jury in Norristown, Pennsylvania, unanimously convicted state Attorney General Kathleen Kane of two counts of felony perjury as well as a host of misdemeanor charges, including official oppression, obstruction, false swearing and conspiracy. Kane faces a maximum sentence of 28 years in prison, although Pennsylvania’s sentencing guidelines recommend a more lenient sentence.
Prosecutors charged Kane based on allegations that she leaked secret grand jury documents related to a 2009 embezzlement probe to retaliate against former prosecutors she believed had embarrassed her. … More
On February 25, 2016, Indiana AG Greg Zoeller became the sixth AG, along with those of Texas, Wisconsin, Kansas, Louisiana, and Nebraska, to join in a lawsuit challenging the implementation of the Health Insurance Providers Fee, as part of the Affordable Care Act. The state AGs argue that portions of the Fee, which is directed to certain health insurance providers, will be paid by states, which they allege violates the Constitution and several federal laws. … More