Date: 01/12/2009

Briefing from the Department of Law


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03:41 PM -- Department of Law

John Suthers, Attorney General, provided the committee with an overview of the Department of Law. He introduced his staff and discussed the major duties of the department. General Suthers indicated that the department is divided into six operational sections. The Business and Licensing section conducts all of the legal work for all of the boards and commissions that license and regulate different industries. The State Services section provides legal services and legal opinions for other state government agencies. The Litigation section oversees the areas of government where governmental immunity does not apply, such as transportation and corrections. The Consumer Protection section enforces all of the consumer protection statutes as well as the state antitrust laws and oversees the tobacco litigation. The Criminal Justice section enforces securities fraud, insurance fraud, workmen's compensation, Medicare and Medicaid fraud, environmental crimes, and crimes that occur in multiple jurisdictions. This section also is in charge of criminal appeals in the state. The Natural Resources and Environmental section protects the interest of the state under the interstate river compacts.

04:04 PM

General Suthers discussed the work of his office in the past year and the importance of certain cases to the fiscal management of the state. He related a case involving the last economic downturn when cash funds were used to balance the budget. A citizen group challenged this as a violation as TABOR and the state prevailed. General Suthers related other critical cases handled by his office in recent years. He discussed environmental cases ongoing that began in the 1980s. He also discussed the role of the business and licensing division in prosecuting mortgage fraud.

04:16 PM

Senator Carroll asked about any policies that may invite the state to get sued. Senator Newell asked if the state has been too soft on environmental crime and how that could be changed. General Suthers noted that in current law pollution of water is less severe than pollution of the ground, and they will have a bill to try to remove that discrepancy. Senator Morse asked about General Suthers recent appearance before the Supreme Court for a water case. General Suthers discussed the case.

04:25 PM

The committee adjourned.