tv Democratic State Attorneys General Discuss Progressive Agenda CSPAN October 15, 2021 5:59pm-6:48pm EDT
television providers, giving you a front row seat to democracy. >> now, state attorneys general from michigan, minnesota, north carolina, and massachusetts talk about voting rights, police reform, abortion access, and health care. this runs 45 minutes. >> i was the democratic general -- attorney general association. we have attorney general's honor panel here. from north carolina, minnesota, massachusetts, and michigan. this is a really important time because we have 25 attorney general's that are part of our democratic attorneys general. we also have 30 races up in
2022. there are a lot of issues on the line and i want to make sure everyone has a little bit of background of what we're doing today and how we are able to frame the conversation. >> the world has witnessed how crucial the work of ag offices was during the prosecution of former police officer derek chauvin. ag ellison, could you describe the accountability and efforts for the family of george floyd last year? tragic incident last year and the broader lessons of carrying out a successful prosecution? >> where everyone wants to see is the investigation and prosecution be objective and independent. people feel does not always the case.
when my office -- as opposed to some other -- prior relationship or other political issue. we stepped in to help. in minnesota, the governor asked to point us or the county has to ask us to come in. both occurred in the floyd case. we don't have original jurisdiction, not offices are the same. we accepted and tried to do our duty. since then, a lot of counties have called us when they have police accountability -- officer involved deaths. we've declined some after receiving them. we have defined charge some officers because we thought the fact and law were not there. we have charged some as well. in the middle of the floyd case, there was a tragic situation where 20 year-old kid was shot and killed when the officer
confuse the taser and a gun. that case is going to trial on november 30. we are working on that. all of us play one role or another, whether it is convening a conversation, which we can do, or playing that role of prosecutor as a last resort or just a boast -- ways for fairness and justice. we all have that role to play. all of us at one time or another have been considered in the course of a tragic situation where an officer use deadly force. i will let my colleagues speak for themselves. they know we have been on the phone together. it is been productive and helpful. one of the tragedies -- the senate republicans not -- it
would've given both state and federal practice authority which would have put us in absolute authority to help try to reform some police chronic problems. many of us spoke on it. we can have both. >> i want to go next to the national later on the floor to prison pipeline including the collision from the charity of discipline or action. can you tell us about your work on the issue and why it is important? >> yes he was -- it had to be me.
this is an important area for us to be working in right now. this county was responsible for criminal cases that come out of the state of michigan. school discipline policies disproportionately punish people of color and lgbt students. everybody taught them at an early age that the student -- that the system was against them. i had the department of education reversed the harmful policies of the trump administration on school discipline. to go a step further by recognizing this, not only because they go along racial lines but because based on
sexual and tory -- it is also based on sexual orientation and gender. i am excited we are meeting federal officials at the department of education and the department of justice next week. they are starting restorative practices in michigan so that kids finishing their education moving forward on the educational opportunities instead of ending up in the chris -- criminal justice system. i have seen that firsthand and touring the state. i just visited an elementary school in lincoln park which is the south side of detroit where they had restorative practice thing in place. it affords student recovery in the wake of a lot of adversity.
especially in the wake of covid. the school has to consider restorative practices when they are disappointing student and they must only use this as a sign of explosion. they are sending a letter to all four administrators in a state, or money that other obligations to consider restorative practices. and making their programs a success. this is another example of the profound impact you can have when you have federal officials that are all working on this. we finally have a chance to do that again while working with the biden white house. i am feeling very confident we will make some progress in the near future and i am very excited about how this will touch the lives of schoolkids not only in the state of michigan but i think all over the united states. >> can you tell us a little bit
about having served under three administrations and how you are able to work with those administrations? >> yes. i served under the obama administration and we actually did a lot of work together. our offices in the obama administration, i would seek counsel. they actually sued the obama administration. that is normal. massachusetts sued george bush's epa. sometimes that is normal. sometimes you work with the administration and sometimes you come at a crossroads. i am so grateful to wake up each morning with the biden harris administration in place. we are going to keep looking for
opportunities to partner with them on addressing climate change including efforts to deal with the economic insecurities we are facing, standing up for reproductive rights. joining in the u.s. department of justice sued -- suit to keep that horrible bill from going forward in texas. one of the things i see is the trumpet administration had no respect for the rule of law, institutional norms. it is so refreshing to have an administration that believes in those things, believes in science, believes in data. but the consequences of those trumpet years are significant and we live with that every day.
we have to keep finding ways to partner with federal partners and local partners to really push back and try to make things right again. going in a direction of quality and justice. >> thank you. what i will do now is finish up our conversation on criminal justice. north carolina, you are tapped by governor cooper to co-lead the task force on racial equity and criminal justice. that led to dozens of recommendations for the criminal justice system. can you talk about the process that led to those recommendations and how you can help implement those? >> i am happy to. i just want to say a word of appreciation as an american for what keith did, what we want all
prosecutors to do is to do an independent assessment of the evidence and decide if charges are appropriate and if so, what charges. we want them to do a completely professionally and secure an appropriate conviction. thank you. the murder of george floyd shows the entire nation -- froze the entire nation. mr. floyd was not the only man who died unjustly at the head of the state. what happens is it was really a spark for the entire nation to reckon with our history with race. in north carolina, we have a long, problematic and sordid history of race issues and what the governor asked me, i was honored with a task force on
racial justice. we had public defenders, criminal justice reform advocates, community leaders, mayors, policymakers and cherubs and chiefs of police. we had line, prosecutors, we had the full array of -- line officers, prosecutors, we had the full array. through july and december, we came up with a report that i am very proud of. 125 recommendations. the government was very clear this was not about of report you stick on a bookshelf. it was always about identifying recommendations and then implementing them. that is what we have been doing this year. we just had a meeting at the governor's mansion on reform
legislation that impacts the way officers are recruited. it impacts how they are trained and a variety of new accountability measures to make sure that when they don't do things the right way, they either get corrected or if they are not appropriate to be in that line of work, they find some of the job. we feel very positive about what we are getting done here. our view is not just about that moment where the law enforcement officer interacts with the citizen. we found all different ways where there are disparities of treatment between black people and white people and we identified solutions to address those disparities. we have a lot of work to do. i think we are positive about what we accomplished but we recognize we have so much further to go.
>> thank you so much for that. all of our ag's are working so hard on criminal justice. i am going to pivot to something that is important to me. student loans. agent haley, since president biden's inauguration, one of the issues that gained prominence during the pandemic is student loan debt relief. many organizations called on president biden to forgive $50,000 of federal student loan debt to borrowers. as a leader of a collision of 17 attorney generals that cowrote a letter to congress in support of a resolution, urging the president to take executive action, i want to know why it was important for you to take that on. how is it using the platform that you have on these issues?
>> we do this because this is the work we do every day. we are out there protecting our residents, protecting student borrowers. we sued for private schools. we sued loan servicers. years ago, i created a student loan system unit in our office because we got so many calls from students behind on their loans and facing default. this is something that is real to all of us. student loan debt is over 7.1 trillion dollars and growing. it is people -- keeping people from getting married, starting families, buying cars, starting businesses, it is a huge drag on our economy. it has had a disproportionate
impact on borrowers. the bottom line is this works. including debt cancellation and debt relief. it is essential to struggling borrowers to boost our economy. that is what i join with my colleagues on advocacy around executive action. i think we sued betsy ross i don't know how many times. i am glad that she is gone. i am glad to have an administration that understands the importance of public education and recognizes that we need to find a way to help borrowers. it is slowing down our economy. that is how we come to this. it is looking out for the best interests of residence. david, you are young. you mentioned this was an issue facing you. the fastest way to help student
debtholders are people in their 60's. retirement and a whole bunch of things. >> thank you. next up, we will talk about voting rights. this is an important thing for you. with the election of the big lie, we saw republican ages perpetrating false narratives. 18 republican attorney generals led by ken paxton filed a lawsuit against battleground states to overthrow the election results. why is it important to have democratic ages serving in battleground states like michigan and wisconsin?
>> without democratic ages in the swing states -- ag's in the swing states, we don't have a democracy in the united states of america. these efforts to overturn the election results, i don't even like calling it over trendy election. it was an attempted coup by the then president of the united states, donald trump. but for the fact that we had the attorney general in states like pennsylvania and wisconsin and michigan and nevada, we will not have an outcome. joe biden won the state of
michigan by 154,000 votes. that is not even close. extra efforts were made to overturn the election in my state. we never would have had those 16 electoral votes go to joe biden who overwhelmingly won the election. whether it was joining in for my democratic colleagues to ensure that over the course of the global pandemic that people have the ability to even vote by mail , we know that the postmaster general did everything in his power to make sure those ballots would never be received in time to be able to be counted. whether you had things before the election or the effort by the texas ag, ken paxton and 17 of his republican colleagues
trying to decertify the election in four states. whether you had those like sidney powell and others trying to decertify the election which we were able to defeat. and in doing so, have those attorneys beatty sanctioned. -- be de-sanctioned. i will be arguing for the texas attorney grievance commission so that people like her can never step into a court of law and make those kinds of reckless statements. unsupported completely and accurately undermined elections in our state and all around the country. had we had the individuals, i
flipped a red state. had i lost that and henry had the person who ran against me in my place, the election in michigan would have been decertified and that person would have got along with this lawsuit which stipulated and the election would have been certified in michigan. that is how important these ag offices are in swing states around the country. if we don't win these elections in 2022 and maintain people like myself, josh kaul, if we don't flip states like arizona and georgia, we simply won't have a democracy anymore. if trump runs again in the 2024 election, he will become president again whether he actually wins the election were
not. >> great, thank you. i just want to quick jump in here. i know we have seen numerous bills in the state legislature from texas to georgia trying to restrict voting rights. absentee ballots and drop off locations, not allowing volunteers to give water to people standing in long lines. what role does this play? >> many. let me emphasize the litigation role. during the campaign season, we had people announced that they were coming to minnesota and they were going to guard polls wit weapons -- with weapons. they were claiming they were going to protect people's right to vote. that was intimidating and designed to discourage and
depressed people. we wanted to make it very clear that if you try to intimidate the vote, he will be in court, we will sue you without adding -- batting an eye. we had a very important role to play. we are on the forefront of helping to build that policy. back to litigation strategies, we all joined together to sue the united states postal services, some of their leaders are trying to show -- to slow down the mail. we have a critical role to play. one thing i would like to see happen more is that citizens would work with us to make sure that we protect the vote and protect democracy. let's not starting -- start talking when there is a crisis. call the local ag and let him know that you see him as an ally
for the fight in local democracy. let me say right now that all of us after thinking about redistricting. now we are dealing with the redistricting side of it. very important. that is going down right now. nearly every ag that you know will be playing a role in making sure you have fair maps coming up. that is something we can join together and work on together now. >> thank you so much. i will go to the next question. for anyone that is listening in, we want to encourage you to drop in some questions that we may have some time at the end of the program to get to some of those. i just wanted to give one more pitch for that. we will talk about reproductive health care. in texas, we saw a six week
abortion ban take effect georgia and south carolina had similar legislation passed. even the mississippi attorney general asked of the court to overturn roe v. wade. access to abortion is under attack. what is the role in protecting reproductive health care? >> what happened in texas is so wrong. it is using unconstitutional law and harming people every day. we talked to our democratic colleagues in colorado, nevada and new mexico where women have no access to appointments for
abortion because so many people have fled texas to get those services. it is heartbreaking to hear the stories of what is happening. women driving a 1000 miles round-trip in a day. they don't have time off from work. they may be trying to escape an abuser who assaulted them. just think about the fact that women are forced to carry the pregnancy to term and they are victims of sexual assault. there are vigilantes out there with an ability to sue. we stand strong with this group of ages on this call to do everything we can to defend a woman's access to the health care she needs.
finding the abortion ban in north carolina and whatever else comes. it is incredibly important that we pass the women's health protection act. this also passes the freedom to vote act. let's be clear about what is happening. republicans dominated state legislators and gerrymander things to keep black and brown people from voting. we end up with a very undemocratic situation where we have these abortion bands -- bans on the books. we also have a stolen supreme court. we have to continue to fight in the court of public opinion and be clear that we are not going to except what happened in texas. we are going to stop it, make
things right and make sure this does not happen in other places. i am so proud of my colleagues for all they have done in the battleground states. voter suppression states, taking on these forces. >> i'd like to jump in. besides all the great work that agent healy just talked about, i think it should be noted that we are one of the only organizations that is trying nationally -- in order to get the support, you must be a
supporter of reproductive rights for women. i think we are the only democratic organization of its kind that can make that claim. let me talk about states like mine. states like michigan where heaven and abortion or providing an abortion is already a felony on the books. it was enforced for years. the only reason it is unenforceable today is because of roe v. wade. the second that roe v. wade falls and we believe it will, it will automatically become the law again. it does not have to be passed by the legislature or signed by the governor. i have statewide jurisdiction criminally in the state of michigan. we also have a three county prosecutors in the state. we know that making abortion illegal does not stop abortions from happening, it makes them incredibly unsafe.
what it means is we will go back to the days before 1973 when women routinely died each and every day from illegal abortions that were not safe or properly performed by medical staff. as a result, what we will see in my state again is that women will be pushed back into back alleys. it is not just the medical providers that were prosecuted. often times was the women who were having these procedures even the they are allegedly the victims of these crimes. what would occur is they would refuse to testify. it was my pledge that because i am committed to supporting and securing the health, welfare and safety of women all across my state that i would not be prosecuting these cases.
i would be working in concert with the democrat prosecuting attorneys to make sure that women would be able to have safe abortions where they would not have to worry about being terminally prosecuted and their providers were not have to worry about being criminally prosecuted. if any republicans run against me, they have committed to having special enforcement that do nothing but go after women and their providers and prosecute them and incarcerate them and imprison them. there are very distinct differences between the democrats who are attorney general and the republicans in this nation. having a republican take my place in michigan means one thing and one thing only and that is an unknown number of women will certainly die in my
state because of abortion procedures that are not performed safely. >> thank you. that was amazing. thank you. we will go ahead and continue with some of your questions here. the democratic ages saw success --ag's saw access. he talked about ways that your office is working to protect constituent health and what is on the horizon for affordable access? >> i want to underscore the significance of what was just said but for my fellow ages and i and all the ages on the democratic side, they intervened in texas possible lawsuit -- texas's lawsuit. the affordable care and would
not be the law of the land any longer because his defendant was the federal government, the trump administration. the trump administration went from our side of the court room the plaintiffs out of the courtroom, arguing that that federal lawsuit should be struck down. we refused and we appealed the fifth circuit decision to the u.s. supreme court. the new hhs secretary, our former colleague was the lead of our coalition. we won. the positive impact on people across this country cannot be overstated. in my state alone, we had more than 4 million people with pre-existing conditions. nearly 2 million seniors whose prescription drugs were $2000 less expensive because of the affordable care act. we had 600,000 people who got their insurance through the exchange that they otherwise would not have been able to get. another .5 one million had subsidized through private
insurance that allowed them to purchase insurance. about 70,000 young people under the age of 26. these are hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people getting access to health care, millions of americans being denied health care of pre-existing conditions. a tremendously important and deeply satisfying win. in north carolina, we are one of the dozens of states that have not expanded medicaid. every opportunity, every page i give, i understand -- underscore that the best thing that can be done to help people in our state and say yes to the federal government possible medicaid here in northglenn. we have to contain health care costs. i am using my authority. i am part of a collision of ages suing the generic pharmaceutical
companies for price-fixing. also, raising the cost of our prescription drugs. i am scrutinizing health care mergers in our state to make sure that those don't drive up costs and i am pushing the federal regulation on pricing transparency so that people know what it costs them to get a procedure at one hospital as opposed to another hospital because with that information, it will have -- that competition will have a positive effect in driving the cost down. >> thank you. >> that was a spontaneous affirmation of what josh was saying. i could not help myself but to say way to go. here is what i will add. everything josh said was right. i will add this one. ag's can be a source of statewide dialogue on health care.
we had a task force in minnesota looking at lower prescription drug prices and we got people in the community, patients and doctors to come up with how we push this down. what we came up with is the health care industry is socialism for the well-to-do and not for everyone else. very opaque markets. little by signaling. things could be so much better. and a soda is a border state just like michigan and massachusetts. we have people going up to canada to get their insulin for 10% of what they pay for it in minnesota. it is wrong. ages like us are fighting this. you can sue them just like josh talked about. you can also pull people together in a force that drives this change.
i did not mean to interrupt josh. i did not have my mute on so they heard me say go josh. >> feel free to interrupt me anytime. >> we will pivot a little bit. there is never an off year for the attorney general action. they are running for reelection with over 30 seats in play for 2022. asia nestle, you won a hard-fought race. >> is important for people to know what we do -- it is important for people to know what we do. that is the most important thing we can do. to tell people, tell their
friends and family, people who are interested in being involved that we have to pay attention to these down ballot races that secretaries of state and attorney general were just not at the forefront of people's minds. for people who paid attention, understanding this was one of the rest policies. -- worst policies. they never went into effect because of our group of democratic ag's. because of the lawsuits we filed, 86% were successful. imagine if we had that file. imagine if we won those cases.
all of these issues that are suppressing, i think there are people out there that they may know what their u.s. senator does but -- and they may know what their governor does but attorney general's are equally as important at this time. just as important as whoever you elect to the united states has a representatives or the united states senate or your governor's office. it is just as important that we have democratic attorney general. in some -- attorneys general. more important at this juncture. i would urge people who are not politically involved, go out and tell people how important these races are. get involved in one of these races. if you live in a solidly blue state, please consider adopting a verbal state like mine to make sure that people like myself and other ag's who work tirelessly
to flip the estates don't lose the states. and moving forward, of those 30 ag races, we need to make sure that we keep as many ag offices as blue as possible and we need to convert red states into blue states. these positions matter. attorneys general in the united states matter. >> next, i will ask our co-chair , agent healey, we have heard about the great work that attorneys general are doing. what can these -- what are some
ways that people can get involved with this panel so we can keep our democratic ag's? >> just what general nessel just said. we have mark in virginia. we have to get him reelected. i want to be really clear. if you don't have democratic attorneys general in these underground states, that is a serious issue for democracy. we were the ones who could go to court. -- who can go to court, represent the state, stop donald trump from his shameful acts time and time again. they are now perpetrated by his followers to say nothing of the rule of law, nothing of the constitution, nothing of their american brothers and system, --
sisters. the way they treated this whole thing. go to our website and you can read about our wonderful ag's and candidates. we are looking to compete here in solidarity with other state constitutional officers. we work very closely with the secretaries of state. they are the ones that rentable is on districting. we have state legislatures like texas and 20 others contemplated what texas has done. getting out there with antidemocratic voter suppression, laws and policies. visit our website, support our candidates and i would encourage a laser focus on who your officials are at the county level. we need an army, a strong army
to combat what seems to be the gop playbook through this year and through the midterms. >> i want to make a plug for the website. our website is www.dems.ag. you can learn about how you can plug in and help us. make sure we keep our amazing ag's and help elect new ag's as well. i know we are running into the last couple of questions here. i want to end it on a fun and nice good note here. we just want to jump in. let me know what song or podcast you are currently listening to.
we will start with ag stein. what is on your phone right now? >> this will shock my colleagues to hear but i am not particularly hip. i am pretty old school and what i do is listen to talking heads radio in the background. 80's alternative rock was my era. >> podcast wise, i am listening to reveal with al ledson. he always has something helpful and useful. he did a wonderful series on housing. we actually went out and fixed some policy changes based on that and then there is counter spin. that is a group that analyzes the news in this era of miss communication and misinformation.
i find it extremely helpful. and then i am listening to the spanish podcast. it helps me improve my spanish language comprehension. >> i happened to see alanis morris that live a few weeks ago. i have a lot of 90's music. >> so did i! it was amazing! >> 25 years. amazing. i saw chris tables and the other night, that was an awesome show -- chris stapleton the other night and that was an awesome show. >> i will close us out here, ag nessel, what about you?
>> for the first time in 25 years, i saw the indigo girls in grand rapids and it is the support i got -- if the support i got there was any indication, i think i may wind that county this year. -- win that county this year. i would really recommend that you watch the show on peacock and listen to the soundtrack by sarah mary ellis -- barielles. some of you may be too young to
get all of the references but it is an amazing show. also, i just saw alanis morris at -- morrisette. she is touring the country. >> nasa officials testified on the future of space exploration. you can see their testimony tonight starting at 8:00 eastern here on c-span. on c-span two, you can watch today's house financial services housing subcommittee with experts on zoning. that starts at 8:00 eastern tonight on c-span to come at c-span.org, or watch on our app, c-span now. >> download c-span's new mobile app and stay up-to-date with
coverage of the day's biggest political events, from livestream's of the house and senate floor, to key hearings and supreme court oral arguments. even washington journal. c-span now has you covered. download the app for free today. >> the supreme court heard a case involving a kentucky abortion law. the kentucky attorney general is seeking to provide a state abortion law that a federal court has already struck down. this law, if implemented, would ban a certain abortion procedure. the justices have until the end of the term to issue a ruling. >> today's orders of the court have been duly edited and certified with the clerk grade will have arguments first this morning in