Each week, Crowell & Moring’s State Attorneys General team highlights significant actions that State AGs have taken. Here are this week’s updates.
February 15, 2021
- Oklahoma Attorney General Hunter reminded businesses that the price gouging statute is in effect statewide due to winter weather. As part of the announcement, Attorney General Hunter stated, “I want to warn those looking to gouge unexpecting Oklahomans by making them pay exorbitant prices for goods or services that they will face charges if an investigation proves they are in violation of the state’s price stabilization act.”
- Idaho Attorney General Wasden spoke in opposition to a proposed law that would change the Idaho price gouging law by not allowing the court to consider any increase in profit margin when determining whether there was an excessive price increase and by having the court take into account increased prices due to the loss of sales or volume sold.
- Kentucky Attorney General Cameron announced a $766,765 settlement with Voyageurs International, Ltd. to reimburse students and chaperones seeking refunds for a canceled European trip. Originally the company retained cancellation fees of $1,900 or gave the students and chaperones the option to extend their trip to Greece for an additional nonrefundable deposit of $765 or $775.
February 16, 2021
- West Virginia Attorney General Morrisey is warning against price gouging during a state of emergency declared for snow and ice. The press release states, “The state’s price gouging laws specifically prohibit any person, business or contractor from inflating the price of select consumer items by more than 10 percent of what the items sold for 10 days prior to the declaration. Tuesday’s declaration includes any food items, essential consumer items and emergency supplies. The law takes effect during any state of emergency or state of preparedness as issued by West Virginia’s governor. Price gouging laws remain in effect until the declaration is lifted or 30 days, whichever is longer, subject to limited exceptions.”
- A coalition of 23 attorneys general sent a comment letter to the Federal Reserve in support of its proposed rule to strengthen Community Reinvestment Act (“CRA”) regulations. Some of the CRA impacts the attorneys general are applauding include increasing affordable housing, serving the financial needs of low and moderate income communities, and increasing the potential for access to credit and deposit services for those small businesses that are suffering due to the pandemic.
- Massachusetts Attorney General Healey announced that under an assurance of discontinuance, national mortgage servicing company Kyanite Services, Inc. will pay $975,000 to Massachusetts borrowers in relief for inaccurate and untimely information it provided about loan modification applications, violating a state law against unnecessary foreclosure and the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act.
- Virginia is poised to become the second state to pass a data privacy law, the Consumer Data Protection Act, which would go into effect on January 1, 2023 if Governor Northam signs it as soon as April. The law would apply to all businesses that process or control at least 100,000 Virginians’ data or process at least 25,000 consumers’ data and gain at least 50% of their revenue from selling and processing this data. It would give consumers the right to consent to data collection, ask for copies of and correct inaccuracies in their data, and opt out of data collection. Unlike California’s law, Virginia’s does not have a monetary threshold for liability and prohibits a private right of action.
State AG Office News
- Delaware Attorney General Jennings released a 2021 legislative agenda outlining 10 policy priorities. Some of these include outlawing unfair business practices, expanding the right to vote, increasing firearm regulations, and creating a consistent and objective use of force standard.
February 17, 2021
- A news report states that Virginia’s price gouging law is in effect due to a state of emergency for winter weather. According to the report, “Items and services covered by these protections include but are not limited to water, ice, food, generators, batteries, home repair materials and services, and tree removal services.”
Financial Services | Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- New York Attorney General James announced a lawsuit against Coinseed, Inc., the operator of a cryptocurrency trading platform, and its top executives. The lawsuit is seeking to stop Coinseed and the executives from operating as unregistered commodities broker-dealers and have them return investments of Coinseed’s cryptocurrency, after they allegedly unlawfully traded cryptocurrencies without registering as broker-dealers and failed to disclosure fees.
- Washington D.C. Attorney General Racine led a coalition of 18 attorneys general in a Third Circuit amicus brief defending a New Jersey policy limiting cooperation between local law enforcement and federal immigration authorities. The coalition is arguing that the New Jersey policy should be upheld because states have the ability and authority to decide how to use their limited resources to protect public safety and regulate law enforcement.
February 18, 2021
- Indiana Governor Holcomb signed Senate Enrolled Act 1, which gives COVID-19 tort liability protections to businesses and schools. The new law provides protections for activity that does not arise to gross negligence or willful or wanton misconduct.
- Wisconsin Attorney General Kaul announced a settlement with three state facilities which requires a $190,000 payment for violations of water pollution control laws and wastewater violations. The settlement also provides injunctive relief against the three facilities.
February 19, 2021
- A multistate coalition of attorneys general, co-led by Massachusetts Attorney General Healey and New York Attorney General James, sent a letter to Congress urging President Biden to adopt U.S. House and Senate resolutions asking him to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student debt per borrower.
- Missouri Attorney General Schmitt announced that his office entered an agreement with travel company Voyageurs International, Ltd. that will provide refunds to high school students for a canceled music trip. Under the agreement, the company will pay $426,210 in restitution.
- Texas Attorney General Paxton issued several Civil Investigative Demands to ERCOT and other power companies, such as AEP Texas, Calpine Corporation, and Luminant Generation Company, about power outages, energy pricing, and emergency plans after Texas’ winter weather emergency which left many without heat and power.
- Vermont Attorney General Donovan filed a civil lawsuit as well as a motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against a UPS store for allegedly violating a state executive order by refusing to follow employee mask use requirements.