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Crittenden County Women Arrested for Medicaid Fraud
Access Based Solely on Religious Affiliation

Rutledge: Government Cannot Exclude Access Based Solely on Religious Affiliation

Tue, Apr 26, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge joined a coalition of 18 attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court challenging the exclusion of a preschool daycare from a state-authorized, environmentally-friendly safety program in Missouri. The attorneys general believe the exclusion appears to be based strictly on the preschool’s religious affiliation.

Trinity Lutheran Church has a playground used by its daycare, preschool and local neighborhood children that it is seeking to improve through a financial grant from a Missouri program which reimburses institutions that resurface their playgrounds with recycled scrap tires. The program’s mission is to protect children and reduce tire landfills, yet the state declared the daycare and preschool ineligible.

“Government simply cannot place limits on religious organizations’ access to important safety programs,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “By awarding the grant, the Missouri program would certainly not have been endorsing any religious beliefs but would have protected children and reduced scrap tires from landfills, which does align with the scope of the program. The case before the Court will answer whether a state can bar a religious organization from an available state-benefit program exclusively based on religion.”

As the attorneys general explain in the brief, Trinity Lutheran Church is similar to a public school, city park or secular daycare in that its religious affiliation is irrelevant to the program’s goals of protecting children and ending the environmental harm of scrap tires. Missouri had no lawful grounds to reject the church from the program.

Missouri claims that awarding the grant to the preschool would send a message of endorsement of the associated church. The attorneys general argue, “This is like saying Missouri’s authority to endorse George Washington and disparage Karl Marx means that it can bar all Marxists from eligibility to benefit programs, since letting them apply would send a message that socialism is condoned. A State has ample authority, without going as far as Missouri wishes, to deny a group access to a program’s subsidy because the State dislikes the group’s message – if the reason for the denial is related to the program’s purpose.”

Nevada Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt led the brief, in which Rutledge joined along with attorneys generals from Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

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Mobile Office Locations for May

Rutledge Announces Mobile Office Locations for May

Tue, Apr 26, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced mobile office locations for May.

Attorney General Rutledge created the mobile office initiative to make the office accessible to everyone, particularly to those who live outside the capital city. Last year, office hours were held in all 75 counties, marking the first time that the Attorney General’s office has held office hours in each county across the State. Since January, 29 mobile offices have been held in an effort to once again travel to all 75 counties.

The Attorney General Mobile Offices assist constituents with consumer related issues in filing consumer complaints against scam artists. Staff will also be available to answer questions about the office and the other services it offers to constituents. Rutledge believes there is no issue too small for her staff to have a face-to-face conversation.

Rutledge expanded the services offered at mobile offices to include Prescription Drug Take Back boxes. Rutledge is partnering with local law enforcement agencies across the State who will handle a secure box and properly dispose of the prescriptions collected. Rutledge encourages Arkansans to bring their old, unused or expired prescription medications to an upcoming mobile office.

For more information about services provided by the Attorney General’s office, visit ArkansasAG.gov or call (501) 682-2007. Rutledge can also be found on Facebook at facebook.com/AGLeslieRutledge and on Twitter at twitter.com/AGRutledge.

The upcoming mobile office schedule is below:

Union County

Tuesday, May 3

10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Champagnolle Landing Senior Wellness Center

910 Champagnolle Road

El Dorado, AR 71730

Sebastian County

Thursday, May 5

10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Fort Smith Senior Activity Center

2700 Cavanaugh Road

Fort Smith, AR 72908

Poinsett County

Monday, May 9

10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Tyronza Senior Center

135 South Main St.

Tyronza, AR 72386

Craighead County

Tuesday, May 10

10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

St. Bernards Senior Life Center

700 East Washington St.

Jonesboro, AR 72401

Pope County

Thursday, May 12

10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Pope County Senior Activity Center

1010 North Rochester Road

Russellville, AR 72802

Benton County

Monday, May 16

10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Benton County Senior Activity and Wellness Center

3501 Southeast L St.

Bentonville, AR 72712

Washington County

Tuesday, May 17

10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Springdale Senior Activity and Wellness Center

203 Park St.

Springdale, AR 72764

Conway County

Thursday, May 19

9:30 – 11:30 a.m.

T.C. Vaughan Senior Adult Center

706 North Division St.

Morrilton, AR 72110

Logan County

Monday, May 23

10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Paris Senior Center

331 South 1st St.

Paris, AR 72855

Izard County

Tuesday, May 24

10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Brockwell Senior Center

30 Chapel Hill Road

Brockwell, AR 72517

Miller County

Thursday, May 26

10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Miller County Senior Center

1007 Jefferson Ave.

Texarkana, AR 71854

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Rutledge and Lauren Holiday Featured in PSA

Rutledge and World Cup Champion Lauren Holiday Featured in PSA

Mon, Apr 25, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has partnered with the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility as part of Alcohol Responsibility Month to release an underage drinking prevention public service announcement. The PSA features Rutledge and Lauren Holiday, member of the 2015 U.S. Women’s World Cup soccer team, discussing the importance of talking with children and teens about the dangers of underage drinking, and the benefits of living a healthy, active lifestyle.

“Underage drinking is not only dangerous and harmful to one’s health, but it is also illegal,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Parents have the greatest impact on a child’s life and the decisions he or she makes. I encourage all parents to have conversations with their child about the risks of underage drinking. It may save a life.”

In the PSA, Rutledge and Holiday encourage parents to start the conversation early about making smart decisions.

“April is Alcohol Responsibility Month, and as we celebrate our 25-year anniversary, we want to remind parents how far we’ve come with the conversation about alcohol,” said Ralph Blackman, president and CEO of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility. “Underage drinking declined 19 percent while conversation about underage drinking between parents and their kids increased 62 percent. We are very pleased to be able to work with Lauren Holiday and Attorney General Rutledge this year to continue this increase in conversation between parents and kids, in hopes that it helps kids realize the importance of saying yes to a healthy lifestyle and saying no to underage drinking.”

The PSA can be viewed on Rutledge’s YouTube page or downloaded here.

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Protect Private Property Rights

Rutledge Urges Court to Protect Private Property Rights

Thu, Apr 21, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge joined eight other attorneys general in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case, Murr v. Wisconsin, which is challenging uncompensated regulatory takings of private property. The brief urges the Court to reject a new judicially created rule that would allow government too much latitude to heavily regulate land without properly compensating property owners. This new rule determines whether a regulatory taking has occurred by looking not just at how much the regulation affects the piece of property itself but how much the regulation affects all adjoining properties owned by the same person. Accordingly, the more adjoining property one owns, the less likely a regulation affecting one parcel would require compensation by the government.

“This case comes down to simple economics,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “Landowners should not be penalized because they own multiple pieces of land. However, if the Court sides with Wisconsin, it will make it easier for any government entity to take private land without just compensation. The Fifth Amendment was adopted to protect private property rights, and I urge the Court to rule in the Murrs’ favor.”

The Murr family owns two neighboring parcels of land in Wisconsin – one that is developed and another that is undeveloped. When the Murrs planned to sell the undeveloped land, they discovered a Wisconsin ordinance that prohibited the development or sale of the undeveloped lot simply because they own the lot next door. The Murrs challenged the ordinance, alleging a “taking” was occurring of the undeveloped land under the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment.

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals reasoned that no taking occurred because, when the properties were combined, the Murrs retained some usage of the combined property.

However, the attorneys general write, “Nothing in the text [of the Fifth Amendment] indicates that the requirement of just compensation might be waived if the owner of the property at issue also happens to own other property nearby. What matters is whether property has been ‘taken,’ not whether the owner still has the use of the lot next door. Any other approach makes a hash of the text, and diverts the regulatory takings analysis from the actual effect of the regulatory action on the actual piece of property at issue, to focusing on the identity of the landowner and other property he or she may happen to own.”

The case is currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. Led by Nevada, Arkansas is joined in support of the Murr family by Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming.

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Over 200 Pounds of Medications Collected

Rutledge: Over 200 Pounds of Medications Collected From Mobile Office Initiative

Tue, Apr 19, 2016

LITTLE ROCK – Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced that a total of 207.9 pounds of prescription and over-the-counter medications have been collected from prescription drug take back events at 25 mobile offices around the State. Last week, in Stone County, officials collected the 200th pound.

In January, Rutledge began partnering with local law enforcement agencies to provide prescription drug collection at each Attorney General Mobile Office. Local officers are present at all mobile office stops to ensure the medications are safely collected. This initiative provides Arkansans with another opportunity to dispose of their unneeded medications in their own community in addition to drop-off sites already available at many local law enforcement agencies.

“More than 200 pounds of unused prescription medications are now safely out of medicine cabinets,” said Attorney General Rutledge. “The drug take back program is an effective way to get old and expired medications out of homes where they could be abused by children, family members or friends. Handing these drugs to law enforcement for proper disposal ensures they will be destroyed in a safe and secure manner.”

It is reported that nearly 44,000 people die from drug overdoses each year, with more than half of those because of abuse of prescription drugs. The National Institution on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that 62 percent of teens abuse prescription drugs because they are easy to obtain from their parents’ medicine cabinet. NIDA also reports that prescription drugs are considered a gateway drug, with nearly half of heroin users reporting to have abused prescription drugs before beginning to use heroin.

Authorities collect prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, pet medicines, medicated ointments and lotions, inhalers, liquid medicines in glass or leak-proof containers and medicine samples. The next nationwide Take Back event is scheduled for Saturday, April 30.

For more information on the Prescription Drug Take Back program or upcoming mobile offices, contact the Attorney General’s office at (501) 682-2007 or oag@arkansasag.gov or visit ArkansasAG.gov.

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