UPDATE #11: DEMOCRATIC ATTORNEYS GENERAL LEADERSHIP IN ADDRESSING COVID-19
May 24, 2020
Democratic AGs Taking Necessary Steps to Protect the People
As states across the country balance the loosening of stay-at-home orders with public safety concerns, Democratic AGs continue to lead the way on protecting and fighting for their communities.
Here is the latest from Democratic AGs:
DEMANDING RESPECT FOR WORKERS (AND THE LAW)
- On Thursday, President Trump visited a Ford Motor Company plant in Michigan. Ahead of his trip, Michigan AG Dana Nessel penned an open letter asking that Trump “respect the great efforts of the men and women at Ford – and across this state – by wearing a facial covering.” AG Nessel continued, “Anyone who has potentially been recently exposed, including the President of the United States, has not only a legal responsibility, but also a social and moral responsibility, to take reasonable precautions to prevent further spread of the virus.”
- Massachusetts AG Maura Healey announced additional resources for workers and ways to report safety concerns to her office as the state begins its phased reopening of businesses. “With continued anxiety and uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, our office has established easier ways for employees to report unsafe working conditions that need to be addressed,” said AG Healey. “We want workers to know that we’re here as a resource and are dedicated to protecting them during this time.”
- A coalition of 19 Democratic AGs filed an amicus brief in support of paid sick leave for airline flight crew workers. The brief supports a Washington State law that allows workers to take sick leave without the fear of discipline. “State sick leave laws are critical for the protection of workers and residents, and must be upheld,” said Maryland AG Brian Frosh. “Especially in the face of a global health crisis, each state has the right and responsibility to establish the best policies and regulations to safeguard public health and welfare.”
ENFORCING PROTECTIVE ORDERS
With states starting phased re-openings, there are some businesses challenging the carefully laid out guidelines in state Executive Orders. Democratic AGs are playing a critical role in keeping people safe and enforcing the rules.
- Minnesota AG Keith Ellison filed a lawsuit against a chain of bars and restaurants that vowed to re-open – violating Governor Walz’s “Stay Safe Minnesota” Executive Order.
- Virginia AG Mark Herring successfully defended Governor Northam’s Executive Order against a gym owner seeking to reopen during the pandemic.
- Vermont AG TJ Donovan sent a letter to a workout facility seeking to operate as an “outdoor gym” – which is currently allowed. The letter outlined the state’s extensive requirements and called on the facility to comply with the EO’s guidelines.
- Washington AG Bob Ferguson filed consumer protection lawsuits against two workout facilities that continue to operate in violation of Governor Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” proclamation.
ADVOCATING FOR STUDENTS
Student borrowers have been hit hard by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. Democratic AGs are stepping up to help them find relief. Just this week, Rhode Island AG Peter Neronha issued guidance on the new protections under the CARES Act available to 130,000 Rhode Islanders who have student plan debt. And in Washington State, AG Bob Ferguson challenged the Department of Education’s decision to limit who receives critical grant funding provided by the CARES Act. This decision by the Education Department excludes many Washingtonians in need, including students without a high school degree, adult basic education students, and students who have Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status.
DEFENDING FAMILIES HARMED BY THE OPIOID CRISIS
Massachusetts AG Maura Healey and a coalition of 25 AGs asked the court overseeing the bankruptcy of Purdue Pharma to extend the deadline for claims against the company to September 30th. This extension would help make sure that the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t prevent families from filing claims. “People who have been harmed by Purdue Pharma deserve a full opportunity to file their claims and have their voices heard,” said AG Maura Healey.
A coalition of 12 Democratic AGs sent a letter to 10 major auto manufacturers in response to reports that dealerships are engaging in predatory and harmful practices in connection with the return of leased vehicles during the COVID-19 crisis. California AG Xavier Becerra said, “There is no reason for automakers or their dealers to push individuals further into financial despair through unlawful and predatory leasing practices. Consumers must be able to return their leased vehicles.”
The actions above are just a snapshot of the important work Dem AGs are doing to keep our families and communities safe. In addition to the highlights above, Dem AGs are:
- Providing guidance to government agencies on how to address Open Meeting Acts & Sunshine Laws in this new environment;
- Pushing large corporations to provide paid family leave;
- Advocating for a pause in eviction proceedings;
- Urging utility companies to postpone late payment fees and service shut-offs;
- Fighting against hate crimes and discrimination against the Asian American and Pacific Islander populations;
- Working with the courts and the criminal justice system to guarantee both justice and fairness through the courts during this emergency.
For more on Democratic AG leadership during this challenging time, check out the previous updates here:
- May 15 – UPDATE #10
- May 8 – UPDATE #9
- May 1 – UPDATE #8
- April 24 – UPDATE #7
- April 17 – UPDATE #6
- April 10 – UPDATE #5
- April 3 – UPDATE #4
- March 27 – UPDATE #3
- March 20 – UPDATE #2
- March 13 – UPDATE #1