UPDATE #3: DEMOCRATIC ATTORNEYS GENERAL LEADERSHIP IN ADDRESSING COVID-19
March 27, 2020
Democratic AGs Taking Necessary Steps to Protect the People
As the country continues to face challenges related to COVID-19, with thousands of Americans impacted, and many communities still struggling to address testing needs and a lack of protective equipment for medical professionals and others on the front lines, Democratic AGs continue to fight for their communities.
Last week, DAGA circulated an updated memo highlighting Democratic AG leadership during this time of crisis.
Here are some key updates since then on how Democratic AGs are fighting for the people in their states:
SUPPORTING MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS AND THOSE ON THE FRONT LINES:
- A coalition of 16 Democratic AGs sent a letter to President Trump asking that he invoke the Defense Production Act to address the ongoing shortages of critical medical testing supplies and protective gear at our nation’s hospitals. If Trump invokes the DPA, it will increase health care capacity, increase the supply of personal protective equipment, and increase testing capacity available to the states.
- In addition, California AG Xavier Becerra sent a separate letter last night to President Trump demanding his administration invoke the Defense Production Act.
- These two letters follow a letter sent last week by California AG Xavier Becerra, Massachusetts AG Maura Healey, and New York AG Tish James to President Donald Trump demanding his administration take immediate action on the manufacturing of additional safety materials (masks, eye protection, gowns, and gloves).
Democratic AGs will continue to fight for the health care workers, law enforcement officials, and others on the front lines to ensure they have the resources they need to continue to combat this global pandemic safely.
PROTECTING ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE CARE:
- Democratic AGs from around the country joined DAGA this week to highlight the importance of access to reproductive health care during the COVID-19 crisis and to show support for women and families everywhere. This came as anti-abortion activists, who are attempting to exploit this crisis, sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar urging the agency to restrict access to safe, legal abortion during the pandemic. Read the full statements from Democratic AGs across the country here!
FIGHTING FOR FAIR FUNDING:
- District of Columbia AG Karl Racine, a bipartisan coalition of 37 state AGs, and the National Association of Attorneys General, sent a letter to Congress requesting that the District of Columbia and its 700,000+ residents be treated as a state for purposes of receiving vital funding to handle the COVID-19 crisis. The request comes after the U.S. Senate passed a Coronavirus relief package for the country but decided to treat the District as a territory, meaning it would only receive half of the funding states are set to receive if signed into law.
PROTECTING STUDENT LOAN BORROWERS:
- New York AG Tish James, Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro, and a coalition of 27 Democratic AGs wrote to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos asking that the Department of Education take steps to protect student loan borrowers from further financial burden and debt collection due to job loss and lost wages during this global pandemic.
PRICE GOUGING UPDATE:
- While Democratic AGs across the country continue to release scam and price gouging alerts to increase awareness for consumers, they are also taking concrete action in real time to protect the people against harmful practices:
- New Mexico AG Hector Balderas ordered more than 90 businesses across the state to cease and desist.
- Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro has fielded nearly 3,000 tips flagging price gouging across the Commonwealth. Read this thread for more on AG Shapiro’s actions!
- Michigan AG Dana Nessel’s hotline has been so busy, with more than 1,500 calls in just the last week, that she enlisted help from lawmakers and community leaders including Michigan Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin. The latest scam alert warns consumers about scams tied to the federal stimulus bill.
- Collectively, more than 20 Democratic AGs signed onto a bipartisan letter from state AGs across the country to the largest internet marketplace companies like Amazon, Craigslist, and eBay regarding the price gouging happening on these sites.
- Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro started “Here Are the Helpers” – “a social media campaign to highlight the incredible work of our friends, neighbors, businesses and community leaders in PA.”
- North Carolina AG Josh Stein started “Civics with Stein” – a short video series where AG Stein will provide educational content for parents across North Carolina struggling to find academic content during this time. This week, AG Stein focused on the basics of federalism.
- Nevada AG Aaron Ford started “AG Family Challenge” – a short daily video series where AG Ford will post a fun or educational video for families to participate in. It has ranged from proper handwashing technique to learning how to say colors in Spanish.
The actions above are just a snapshot of the incredible 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 anti-Asian American discrimination;
- Working with the courts and the criminal justice system to guarantee both justice and fairness through the courts during this emergency.