Rutledge Files Suit Against President Biden‘s Executive Order on Greenhouse GasesTue, Mar 9, 2021
Says, ‘I will not sit back and let this massive expansion of federal control take away jobs from hard-working Arkansans’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed a lawsuit with a coalition of 12 states against President Joe Biden for using an executive order to expand federal agencies to regulate greenhouse gases. President Biden’s executive order did not have the authority to issue binding and numerical “social costs” identified by an interagency working group, as done by federal agencies in the rule-making process. The lawsuit challenges President Biden’s Executive Order 13990, titled “Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.” This executive order will lead to regulations that stifle manufacturing, harm agriculture, and have serious economic impact across Arkansas and America.
“As the wife of a row crop farmer, I know firsthand how the Obama-Biden Administration’s egregious federal overreach directly harmed agriculture. Now, we are faced with the same power grab by President Biden which will hurt agriculture and manufacturing jobs,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I will not sit back and let this massive expansion of federal control take away jobs from hard-working Arkansans while the cost of energy, food and necessities dramatically increase.”
Two of Arkansas’s largest industries, manufacturing and agriculture, will be impacted by President Biden’s executive order. According to the Arkansas Farm Bureau, Arkansas ranks 1st in the nation in rice production. More than 60 percent of the rice produced in Arkansas is exported. Agriculture is a key economic driver of the State with 14.5 million acres of workable farmland. Arkansas’s agricultural industry contributes nearly $21 billion to the state’s economy each year and employs nearly 270,000 Arkansans.
The lawsuit notes that the interagency working group’s interim values place the social cost of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide for 2020 at approximately $9.5 trillion - $269 billion for carbon dioxide, $990 billion for methane, and $8.24 trillion for nitrous oxide.
The suit states, “In practice, this enormous figure will be used to justify an equally enormous expansion of federal regulatory power that will intrude into every aspect of Americans’ lives—from their cars, to their refrigerators and homes, to their grocery and electric bills. It will be used to inflict untold billions or trillions of dollars of damage to the U.S. economy for decades to come. This regulatory expansion will stifle energy production, strangle America’s energy independence, suppress agriculture, destroy millions of jobs, deter innovation, and impoverish millions.”
The states argue in the lawsuit that using these interim values could massively expand the scope and reach of the regulatory power of the federal government, potentially impacting the United States economy and every household in America.
In addition to Arkansas, state attorneys general from Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Utah joined the suit.
Attorney General Rutledge Introduces AR Voices: Combating Cancel Culture and Protecting Freedom of SpeechThu, Mar 4, 2021
Says, ‘Cancel culture cannot become the norm, especially when our freedom of speech in rural America is in jeopardy’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today introduced legislation called AR Voices: Combating Cancel Culture and Protecting Freedom of Speech. This new legislation would make social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and others liable for damages when unfairly censoring or banning someone. The bill states that if these websites do not act in “good faith” they will have violated the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (ADTPA) and can be held accountable by the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office.
“Cancel culture cannot become the norm in Arkansas, especially when our Freedom of Speech in rural America is in jeopardy,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This legislation would allow everyone, no matter the circumstances to have an equal and fair opportunity to post online and if a social media giant does not comply, the company can be held accountable.”
AR Voices: Combating Cancel Culture and Protecting Freedom of Speech is aimed at protecting Arkansans from being unfairly subjected to the unilateral judgments of big tech companies to censor their free expression of ideas and freedom of speech on online platforms.
Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act gives websites the ability to regulate content from users on their platforms, so long as they act in good faith. The original intent of Section 230 was to empower parents to restrict their children’s access to objectionable or inappropriate online material and to ensure vigorous enforcement of Federal criminal laws to deter and punish trafficking in obscenity, stalking and harassment online. Unfortunately, many platforms have expanded beyond the original intent of the law and try to use it as a shield from liability for banning ideas or speech in which they simply do not agree. This bill would allow Arkansas to hold social media giants accountable if they unfairly censor, delete or label speech, including religious or political language.
In Arkansas, each violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act could result in injunctions and civil penalties of up to $10,000.
The lead sponsors are Senator Ricky Hill, District 29, and Representative Brian Evans, District 43.
Rutledge: Potential Skyrocketing Energy Costs during Severe Weather Must be Investigated by Public Service CommissionFri, Feb 26, 2021
‘Arkansas consumers must not face exorbitant utilities bills’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge submitted a letter to the Arkansas Public Service Commission urging it to investigate the cost of power and natural gas incurred by the State’s electric and natural gas utilities during the recent severe winter storms. As the representative of Arkansas consumers, Rutledge is anticipating customer bills will skyrocket in the coming weeks because utility companies paid high prices to third parties in order to meet energy needs during the severe weather.
“Arkansas consumers must not face exorbitant utilities bills when the service provider resorted to purchasing energy at excessive prices in spot markets,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Not only do I want to ensure Arkansans do not face skyrocketing bills at no fault of their own, I want to ensure our friends and family are protected and safe if winter weather strikes again.”
On Tuesday, Rutledge announced an investigation was opened into Liberty Utilities to review its preparation and actions which resulted in a catastrophic failure of water to customers in Pine Bluff. Prior to this announcement, Rutledge worked with the Pine Bluff Mayor, leadership at Jefferson Memorial, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Saracen Casino and Simmons Bank to immediately address the emergency.
Rutledge’s Statement on the Public Service Commission’s Investigation into Liberty Utilities Winter Weather ResponseTue, Feb 23, 2021
‘My office has opened an investigation into the preparation and actions by Liberty Utilities’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge issued a statement today following the Arkansas Public Service Commission’s announcement of an investigation into Liberty Utilities for its response to the winter weather damage to the community water supply of Pine Bluff.
“My office has opened an investigation into the preparation and actions by Liberty Utilities which ultimately resulted in a catastrophic failure to protect its customers in Pine Bluff, and to determine whether the company should have done more to protect Jefferson Regional Medical Center, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, residents and essential businesses,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “I applaud the Public Service Commission’s decision to also open an investigation into the failure by Liberty Utilities to restore water service to Pine Bluff residents in a reasonable and timely manner.”
Rutledge Responds to Biden Administration’s Request that Supreme Court Cancel Oral Arguments Concerning Arkansas WorksMon, Feb 22, 2021
‘This is a politically motivated stunt designed to avoid a Supreme Court decision upholding a program that encourages personal responsibility’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge filed a response to the Biden administration’s motion asking the Supreme Court to cancel oral arguments in Arkansas’s and New Hampshire’s cases concerning Medicaid work requirements while the Biden administration considers ending those requirements. The Biden administration’s request would vacate the lower court’s opinion in this case and leave the future of work requirements unclear.
“Today’s political decision by President Biden’s administration is an attempt by the federal government to end our work requirement that was intended to specifically fit the needs of the Natural State,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This is a politically motivated stunt designed to avoid a Supreme Court decision upholding a program that encourages personal responsibility while still providing healthcare coverage for those seeking gainful employment.”
Arkansas Works is a pilot Medicaid expansion program designed to encourage able-bodied Arkansans, without dependents, to transition into the workforce and build a stronger, more resilient connection with their communities.
The case is Arkansas v. Gresham, No. 20-38.
Attorney General Rutledge Proposes The GIRLS ActMon, Feb 22, 2021
Rutledge introduces ‘Gender Integrity Reinforcement Legislation for Sports Act’
LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today proposed legislation to ensure equity in women’s sports in the State. The draft legislation is titled “The GIRLS Act” (Gender Integrity Reinforcement Legislation for Sports Act) and seeks to protect access to athletic opportunities for girls and women in K-12 and post-secondary institutions. If passed, it would ensure fair competition by limiting girls’ sports to girls and women’s sports to women in as evidenced by an original birth certificate.
“As a mom of a two-and-a-half year old girl, and having grown up playing a number of sports, I know first-hand the benefit that sports has on developing self-discipline, confidence, teamwork and leadership,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “This proposed legislation would make sure that young women in Arkansas can compete on a level playing field—no matter what sport they choose.”
During his first days in office, President Biden signed Executive Order 13988, entitled Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation. By signing this executive action, the Biden Administration signaled that it intends to require schools to allow biological boys who self-identify as girls onto girls’ sports teams.
By creating protected space for girls and women’s sports, the legislation proposed by Rutledge’s office provides opportunities for girls and women to demonstrate their skill, strength and athletic abilities while also providing them with opportunities to obtain recognition, accolades, college scholarships and the many other long-term benefits that flow from athletic achievement.
The proposed bill allows anyone who, as a result of a violation of the legislation, is deprived of athletic opportunities or suffers any other harm to seek a court order stopping the violation along with damages and attorney’s fees in a lawsuit against any Arkansas school that violates the legislation.
The lead sponsors of the bill are Senator Missy Irvin of Mountain View and Representative DeAnn Vaught of Horatio.