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Chair's Initiative

WAYNE STENEHJEM | Chair | 2020-2021

Dear Colleagues, Partners and Friends –

The Conference of Western Attorneys General (CWAG) and the AG Alliance (AGA) are proud to announce this year’s Chair Initiative: A COVID-19 Attorney General Legal and Policy Response Manual. Everyone has been impacted by COVID-19. It is my honor to lead CWAG and the AGA in taking on some of the most challenging related legal and policy issues we face today.

Our proposal is ambitious. In a timely fashion we will put together public/private working groups, each led by a bi-partisan pair of member states to focus on these general topics:
• Multiple approaches of a vaccine;
• Prioritization of vaccine administration;
• Consumer protection;
• Constitutional considerations;
• Antitrust considerations;
• Anticipated secondary impacts

Each working group will identify more specific legal and policy issues that can be addressed in their assigned area. Further, each working group will highlight at least one area to focus resources and develop an issue guide for policymakers.

For example, the working group focused on prioritization may consider the legal risks for states if they prioritize a group of healthcare workers before issuing a vaccine to a first responders who then contract COVID-19 during a citizen call, or worse, a first responder who becomes a super-spreader. At each stage of vaccine distribution, how can states ensure geographic, age, race and economic equity? Perhaps the group tasked with examining constitutional issues can build consensus about how to cope with government employees in essential roles but who have religious objections to being vaccinated? Who will shoulder the liability for adverse effects from a vaccine? Do existing scope of duty regulations in states allow enough flexibility for a mass vaccination effort assuming adequate supply? Are there any antitrust concerns allowing reasonable collaboration among competitors when in service of producing and providing a reliable vaccine?

Attorneys General stand at the center of many of these debates whether through legal advice to Governors or because of enforcement authority entrusted to them directly. But Attorneys General are also tested public servants who can partner with good corporate citizens, “work up” with the Federal government and assist local governments with their needs. Working through these issues requires legal acumen, public trust, bi-partisanship and dedication. Attorneys General in collaboration with our partners will advance the dialogue and position ourselves to be at the center of the conversation, enabling a national response to COVID-19.

For more information about participation, please contact Karen White at Karen.White@AGAlliance.org or David Blake at David.Blake@AGAlliance.org

Wayne Stenehjem
North Dakota Attorney General
2020-21 Chair, CWAG and AG Alliance