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October 22, 2013

AGO Unveils New Military and Veterans Resource Guide
Coming from a family of veterans, I know how important it is to honor the service of our brave men and women in the Armed Forces, both active and inactive duty, by making sure they, and their families, have the support and resources they need.

To that end, In September, we unveiled a new “Military and Veterans Legal Resource Guide”, which includes information on consumer, employment laws and more, to help veterans, military personnel and their families understand their legal rights and protections.   This guide is part of a broader initiative in the Attorney General’s Office to enhance our efforts to serve the legal needs of veterans and military personnel.  To learn more, read this KPLU story or visit the Veteran’s page of our website.


News from the feds on I-502

As Attorney General, my job is to uphold the will of the voters.  Last year, voters approved I-502, legalizing marijuana for recreational use. In August, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the federal government would not block Washington state’s implementation of a legal, regulated recreational marijuana market.  The Department of Justice laid out eight specific enforcement priorities involving public safety, such as preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors and keeping revenue from the sale of marijuana out of the hands of criminal enterprises and gangs. We are committed to ensuring our state’s efforts protect public safety.

Here is the joint statement on the announcement, which I issued with Governor Inslee and an informative article on the issue that was recently published in the New York Times.

There is much more work to be done as we continue to provide legal advice to the Liquor Control Board, so stay tuned for updates.

 
Latest Hanford ruling: An important win for Washington
In an important ruling issued in August, the U.S. Court of Appeals agreed with Washington state that federal law requires the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to act on the license application to build a repository for spent nuclear fuel at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. 

I’m pleased that the Court has directed the federal government to restart the stalled licensing process at Yucca Mountain.  Yucca Mountain was designated by Congress in 1987 to be the nation’s spent nuclear waste storage facility, and the U.S. Department of Energy was scheduled to begin accepting spent fuel from Washington 15 years ago. However, ongoing litigation, opposition and funding problems have continually delayed the project.  

In 2010, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) halted the licensing process.  Washington and North Carolina led an appeal of that action and last month, in a 2-1 decision, the federal appeals court ruled the NRC must resume a review of the license application.

The people of Washington, especially residents of the Tri-Cities area, have been waiting too long for this project to move forward.  I am proud of Washington State Senior Counsel Andy Fitz of our Ecology Division, who presented the lead argument at the hearing that led to this ruling.


AGO Criminal Justice Attorneys block release of sex predator in Cowlitz County

Many people are not aware of the important public safety role my office plays in keeping sexually violent predators out of our communities and away from our children.  In fact, Washington has specific laws to confine and provide treatment for individuals who are determined to be sexually violent predators.  The Attorney General’s Office’s Sexually Violent Predator Unit (SVP) is charged with prosecuting sex predator cases in 38 counties (all except King).

Recently, in Cowlitz County, attorneys in our SVP unit successfully negotiated an agreement that prevents the release of a serial child molester into our community.  More information on this case is available here. Currently, approximately 296 sexually violent predators are civilly committed in Washington state.

 
Consumer Protection Highlights and Headlines:
The Attorney General’s Office Consumer Protection Division works to protect Washington residents from scams and keep the Washington marketplace free of unfair and deceptive practices. Here are some of the recent cases our office has been working on:

AG Bob Ferguson announces settlement of major timeshare scam case  

  • The Attorney General’s Office has recovered $1.2 million from an Olympia couple who ran a complex scam that defrauded up to 30,000 timeshare owners nationwide.
  • 1,500 Washington state victims will receive full restitution, between $1k-$20k

Washington wins right to full payment in tobacco arbitration

  • The decision means the tobacco companies must pay Washington $14.8 million they had in withheld tobacco settlement funds, payments from 2003 that were due to the state

Ferguson announces $30M judgment against company that runs discount club programs  

  • The Attorney General’s Office settles with Affinion for deceptive advertising and membership enrollment allegations.
  • Washington state consumers who file a complaint with the Attorney General's Office will share an estimated $435,000 in restitution.

 
Bob’s Bookshelf
Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher:  The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis
by Timothy Egan

I’m currently reading this biography of mountaineer and famous photographer Edward Curtis, who spent three decades documenting the stories of North American Tribes.  I have a keen interest in Washington state history, and I am a big fan of Timothy Egan.  (“The Good Rain” is excellent.)  Edward Curtis led a fascinating life, and his photographs are unforgettable.

 
On the Horizon
The 2013 Fall Prevention Summit is being held in Yakima on Oct. 20-22.  This annual event is an excellent networking opportunity for youth, volunteers and professionals working toward prevention of substance abuse, violence and other destructive behaviors.

The Attorney General’s Office will be teaming with AARP to host a Scam Jam Oct. 23 at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.  Learn more and sign up here.


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