NewsEvents

Rutledge Applauds Ruling That Obamacare is Unconstitutional

Says, ‘without the individual mandate in place, Obamacare cannot be upheld and is unconstitutional’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge applauded U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor of Texas for agreeing with Arkansas, as part of a 20-state coalition, that the Affordable Care Act and its individual mandate are unconstitutional.

“The ruling is a big win for Arkansans,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Without the individual mandate in place, Obamacare cannot be upheld and is unconstitutional. Now, it is time for Congress to increase options, lower costs and protect those with pre-existing conditions."

In February, the 20-state coalition filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare, explaining that Congress rendered all of Obamacare unconstitutional by doing away with the tax penalty in Obamacare’s individual mandate when it enacted President Donald J. Trump’s tax overhaul.

In 2012, a majority of the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare against a constitutional challenge and held that the individual mandate was a valid exercise of Congress’s Tax Power under Article I, § 8 of the U.S. Constitution. But a different majority also held that Congress did not have the power to create the Individual Mandate under the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, also in Article I, § 8. As Chief Justice Roberts explained, and the four-justice dissent agreed, the Commerce Clause gives Congress to regulate commerce – but not to compel it, which is what the individual mandate does.

In 2017, Congress eliminated the tax portion of the Individual Mandate. Because of this, Judge O’Connor ruled that it was no longer valid under Congress’s Tax Power. Applying the Supreme Court’s 2012 holding that the individual mandate violated the Commerce Clause, Judge O’Connor struck it down as unconstitutional. He then ruled that Congress would not have passed Obamacare without the individual mandate because it was an essential part of the law. So he also invalidated the entire law.

In its current unlawful form, Obamacare imposes and transfers rising costs on Arkansans and transferred an enormous amount of regulatory power to the federal government. Around 70 percent of U.S. counties present citizens with a noncompetitive situation, having only one or two health insurers.

In addition to Arkansas, the coalition – led by Texas and Wisconsin – includes the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia, along with the governors of Maine and Mississippi.

Rutledge Asks Public Service Commission to Investigate Settlement that Would Accelerate the Closing of Power Plants and Affect Electric Rates for Most Arkansans

Says, ‘This settlement has not been properly vetted’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced she is asking the Arkansas Public Service Commission to review a pending settlement agreement between Entergy Arkansas LLC, the Sierra Club and the National Parks Conservation Association to determine if the settlement is in the public interest. The settlement agreement would require Entergy to speed up the closing of power plants that it co-owns with Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation and number of municipally-owned electric utilities. The early closure of these plants could raise rates and affect service for over 1.2 million Arkansans served by Entergy and by electric cooperatives, as well as tens of thousands of customers served by municipal electric utilities.

Attorney General Rutledge has also petitioned the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas to intervene in the case as a representative of Arkansas utility ratepayers, to protect the interest of ratepayers and inform the federal court that Entergy’s actions should first be reviewed by state regulatory authorities.

“The terms of the settlement between Entergy and the Sierra Club will directly impact Arkansans’ utility bills,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This settlement has not been properly vetted by the Public Service Commission, my office or other agencies that have the public’s interest at heart. Because of the potential negative impacts on Arkansas citizens and businesses, I am seeking an investigation by Entergy’s state regulator, the PSC, and intervention in federal court to ensure that the State’s interest and those of its citizens and businesses are adequately protected.”

The complaint filed in Sierra Club v. Entergy alleges violation of the Clean Air Act at Independence Steam Electric Station and White Bluff Steam Election Station. The settlement agreement commits Entergy to a number of actions that would impact plant operations at both locations over the next decade. The costs of those actions will ultimately be borne by Arkansas utility ratepayers.

Rutledge Encourages Database Implementation to Prevent Identity Theft

Says, ‘Identity theft is a scary reality for all of us’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that she has joined with 42 other states and the National Association of Attorneys General to send a letter to the Social Security Administration asking the acting commissioner to prioritize the implementation of a congressionally approved new database system that will help combat synthetic identity theft.

“As the enforcer of Arkansas’s privacy laws, every day I see the damage done to Arkansans who have been the victims of identity theft,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I am pleased to join with my colleagues from across the country urging the Social Security Administration to accelerate the creation of a database that will be used by financial institutions to verify the consumer’s information and prevent identity theft. Identity theft is a scary reality for all of us, but this is a simple solution to close a loop hole for Americans.”

“We ask you to evaluate and make necessary modifications to the Social Security Administration database and systems to comply promptly with this new provision of federal law. As enforcers of the data breach laws in our jurisdictions, we see the impact that exposure of Social Security numbers can have. Our residents lose thousands of dollars a year and suffer from ruined credit scores, as well as a general sense of anxiety regarding their identities,” the attorneys general wrote in the letter.

Earlier this year, Congress passed a law directing the Social Security Administration to develop a revamped database that will verify consumer information at the time it is requested, with consumer consent. The improved database will help address “synthetic identity theft,” in which identity thieves use real Social Security numbers, along with fictitious names and birthdates, to manufacture identities. As the current system does not allow financial institutions to check identity on a real-time basis, the new database system would protect vulnerable consumers by preventing identity theft earlier.

Rutledge Obtains $1.63 Million Judgment Against NuCold Refrigeration

Says, ‘More than 200 consumers have experienced financial losses’

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge obtained a judgment against NuCold Refrigeration Inc. and the owner, Jerry Collins of Plumerville, based on allegations that NuCold failed to provide goods or services after consumers had already paid, provided defective goods and failed to deliver goods or services by the promised date. NuCold also conducted business under the names of RV Fridge House and RV Icebox.

“More than 200 consumers have experienced financial losses by NuCold, Collins and his businesses,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Impacted consumers can be relieved to know that Collins and NuCold are being held responsible for unacceptable business practices. As the chief legal officer in the state, I am dedicated to protecting Arkansans from these types of deceptive business practices."

The judgment, which was filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court, orders NuCold and Jerry Collins to pay $81,454.44 in restitution to consumers. Collins must also pay $10,000 in civil penalties for each violation, totaling $1,550,000. NuCold’s business license has been revoked and Collins has been barred from working in recreational vehicle refrigerator repair in the future.

Rutledge filed a consumer-protection lawsuit against NuCold in December 2016 after receiving a number of consumer complaints. This concludes a multi-year investigation into NuCold.

Rutledge Supports Barr’s Nomination for Attorney General

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced her support of President Donald J. Trump’s nominee for U.S. Attorney General William Barr.

“William Barr has a proven track record as the former Attorney General under President George H.W. Bush,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Barr is a committed public servant. In addition to work with the Department of Justice, he served in the Central Intelligence Agency and on the domestic policy staff at the Reagan White House. Barr’s experience and values make him the right fit for Attorney General.”

Rutledge Announces a Second Arrest in Connection to Little Bitty City Therapeutic Services

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced the arrest of a Garland County man for Medicaid fraud. This arrest is in connection to an arrest made in November of Tonashae Echols, 33, of Hot Springs.

James E. Heritage II, 36, of Hot Springs was in charge of billing for Little Bitty City Therapeutic Services, and is accused of billing private insurance companies as well as the Medicaid program for services not rendered. According to the affidavit, Heritage lied about services therapists were providing and billed Medicaid for 693 claims, totaling $56,338.40 between October 1, 2016 and April 30, 2017. He is charged in Pulaski County with one count of Medicaid fraud, a Class B felony.

“Heritage is accused of stealing from insurance providers and the Medicaid program, which is a safety net for many Arkansans,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I will not tolerate this deceptive behavior from those who should be committed to helping children.”

Heritage is the brother of Echols, who was arrested in November as the Therapy Manager of Little Bitty City Therapeutic Services. Echols is accused of making false statements regarding her family’s income in order to receive Medicaid benefits for her children, and billing Medicaid through the business for services provided to her children from November 2015 through July 2017. She has been charged with one count of Medicaid fraud, a Class B felony.

Medicaid fraud occurs when providers use the Medicaid program to obtain money to which they are not entitled. To report Medicaid fraud or abuse or neglect in residential care facilities, contact the Attorney General’s Medicaid fraud hotline at (866) 810-0016 or oag@arkansasag.gov.

January
8
Tuesday

Grant County Resources Day

Grant County Cooperative Extension Service
202 West Pine Street, Sheridan

Mobile Office
9:30 to 11 a.m.

Prescription Drug Take Back
Partnering with Sheriff Ray Vance
9:30 to 11 a.m.

Identity Theft and Scam Presentation
10:30 to 11 a.m.

 9:30 AMVIEW 
January
10
Thursday

Perry County Resources Day

Perryville Senior Adult Center
107 North Magnolia Street

Mobile Office
10 to 11:30 a.m.

Prescription Drug Take Back
Partnering with Sheriff Scott Montgomery
10 to 11:30 a.m.

Identity Theft and Scam Presentation
11 to 11:30 a.m.

 10:00 AMVIEW 
January
17
Thursday

Conway County Resources Day

T.C. Vaughn Senior Adult Center
706 North Division Street, Morrilton

Mobile Office
10:30 a.m. to noon

Prescription Drug Take Back
Partnering with Sheriff Mike Smith
10:30 a.m. to noon

Identity Theft and Scam Presentation
11:30 a.m. to noon

 10:30 AMVIEW 
January
22
Tuesday

White County Resources Day

Lightle Senior Center
2200 East Moore Avenue, Searcy

Mobile Office
noon to 1:30 p.m.

Prescription Drug Take Back
Partnering with Sheriff Phillip Miller
noon to 1:30 p.m.

Identity Theft and Scam Presentation
noon to 12:30 p.m.

 12:00 PMVIEW 
January
23
Wednesday

Overdose Death Investigation and Prosecution Training

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Benton Event Center

Because the number of deaths resulting from overdoses of heroin and fentanyl has surged in recent years reaching epidemic proportions, this new, free course for law enforcement officers, prosecutors and coroners will cover:

  • Basic drug overdose death investigation techniques
  • Discuss legal requirements and issues involved in drug overdose death investigations
  • Address drug safety awareness particular to heroin and fentanyl
  • And highlight proper evidence handling and protocols

Topics will include:

  • Changing the mindset from accident to homicide
  • Responding to and investigating drug overdose deaths
  • Evidence to look for
  • Documenting the death scene
  • Electronic evidence: cell phones, social media and more
  • Witness and suspect interview techniques
  • Search and seizure issues
  • Legal theory and case development
  • Intelligence gathering and sharing
  • Officer safety when dealing with drugs like fentanyl
  • Case analysis

Lunch will be provided. For questions, email oag@ArkansasAG.gov.

Register online today.
 8:30 AMVIEW 
January
24
Thursday

Ashley County Resources Day

Hamburg Senior Center
1406 North Main Street

Mobile Office
10 to 11:30 a.m.

Prescription Drug Take Back
Partnering with Sheriff Tommy Sturgeon
10 to 11:30 a.m.

Identity Theft and Scam Presentation
11 to 11:30 a.m.

 10:00 AMVIEW 
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