UPDATE #5: DEMOCRATIC ATTORNEYS GENERAL LEADERSHIP IN ADDRESSING COVID-19
April 10, 2020
Democratic AGs Taking Necessary Steps to Protect the People
As millions of Americans face health and fiscal challenges related to COVID-19 and many communities struggle 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.
Here are some key updates on how Democratic AGs are fighting for the people in their states this week:
PROTECTING HEALTH CARE
Despite tens of millions of Americans losing their jobs and potentially their health care, Trump refuses to open a special ACA enrollment period for Americans seeking health insurance during this global pandemic. This comes in addition to Trump and Republican AGs doubling down on the Republican lawsuit to eliminate health care for 20 million Americans. This week, a coalition of 22 Democratic AGs sent a letter asking that the Trump Administration reconsider its decision to deny a special enrollment period on HealthCare.Gov during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CHAMPIONS FOR REPRO RIGHTS
While some extremist Republican Governors and Attorneys General are using the COVID-19 crisis to push an ideological agenda to restrict access to safe and legal abortion, Democratic AGs are fighting back. This week, a coalition of 19 Democratic AGs filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs in Planned Parenthood v. Abbott opposing the Texas Governor’s directive banning nearly all abortion services in the state, using the coronavirus as an excuse. You can read the statements from DAGA & Dem AGs supporting access to reproductive health care, including to abortion, here.
ADDRESSING UTILITIES & HOUSING CONCERNS
Democratic AGs understand that many Americans are struggling to pay their bills in light of rising unemployment. In response, many Democratic AGs are taking steps to stop evictions and prevent utility shut-offs during this crisis.
- California AG Xavier Becerra issued an alert urging tenants economically impacted by COVID-19 to exercise their right to delay an eviction process.
- North Carolina AG Josh Stein sent a letter to hundreds of hotels and motels notifying them that threatening to evict residents without a court order in the midst of the pandemic may violate landlord-tenant and consumer protection laws in the state.
- District of Columbia AG Karl Racine worked with the city’s lawmakers to ensure that his office has the authority to monitor and enforce the ban on utility service disconnections.
STANDING WITH THE AAPI COMMUNITY
Democratic AGs continue to stand with the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and fight back against the rise in racist and xenophobic attacks against the community.
- Oregon AG Ellen Rosenblum, along with the Oregon OAG Steering Committee Against Hate Crimes, issued an anti-discrimination Call to Action signed by the governor, state leaders, and more than 70 community leaders and groups urging residents to support members of the AAPI community who have been targeted during the COVID-19 pandemic.
PROTECTING MAIN STREET CONSUMERS
Democratic AGs across the country continue to fight for consumers and hold those seeking to profit from the COVID-19 crisis accountable.
- A coalition of Democratic AGs demanded that Town Sports International, LLC stop charging membership dues and cancellation fees to gym members during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- A coalition of 22 Democratic AGs sent a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs urging the agency to suspend its deadlines for benefit claims and halt debt collection activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
ENFORCING EXECUTIVE ORDERS
Democratic AGs across the country are using their legal authority to issue guidance for state leaders in enforcing executive orders issued by Governors.
- Vermont AG TJ Donovan issued a directive on how to enforce the Stay Home/Stay Safe order. AG Donovan’s directive instructs law enforcement who encounter noncompliant businesses or individuals to provide education and request voluntary compliance. If noncompliance continues, law enforcement will report those issues and the Attorney General’s Office will work with law enforcement to develop an appropriate response.
- Maryland AG Brian Frosh participated in a tele-town hall with the Maryland Chapter of the AARP to discuss how to stay safe from scammers during this crisis.
- Vermont AG TJ Donovan joined his kids for a Facebook town hall where he answered questions kids had about COVID-19, his job as state Attorney General, and so much more!
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 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: