DC Joins VP Harris at White House to Address Opioid Crisis
Confronting the Opioid Public Health Crisis Head-on
Dear Fellow Washingtonians,
Earlier this week, I met with Vice President Kamala Harris, Dr. Rahul Gupta, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, and seven other state AGs at the White House to discuss state and federal efforts to address the opioid crisis—a crisis that has caused immense harm in communities across the country and that demands urgent action.
DC has the second-highest opioid overdose rate in the country, and 2022 marked the seventh consecutive year in which opioid overdoses claimed more lives than gun violence in our city. The crisis has also exacerbated racial inequities in the District; since 2017, Black residents have accounted for 85% of the District's opioid-related deaths.
At the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia (OAG), we are committed to using the tools available to our office to address this crisis. During the discussion with Vice President Harris, I highlighted successful efforts by state AGs to hold opioid manufacturers accountable for fueling the crisis, shared how federal investment in harm reduction is making a difference in DC through grant-funded vending machines that distribute Narcan and fentanyl test kits, and drew attention to the disparate impact of the opioid crisis on the District’s Black population, underscoring the need to equitably allocate resources toward overdose prevention in marginalized communities.
OAG will continue collaborating with local and federal partners to support those who have been affected by the opioid epidemic. Those efforts will continue to focus on:
- Holding accountable companies whose practices induce and mislead consumers into opioid use and addiction, or whose practices impede consumers’ ability to access treatments.
- Pressing for legislation at the local and federal level to combat the addiction and overdose crisis.
- Seeking to ensure that proceeds of litigation settlements are used quickly to support effective prevention, treatment, recovery, and harm-reduction programs.
- Advocating for statehood to ensure our residents can tailor our spending and priorities to our unique local needs.
There remains much work to be done.
Holding Dozens of Major Chemical Companies Accountable for Contaminating DC with Toxic PFAS Chemicals
At OAG, we recognize it is critical to protect the Earth for generations to come. We work every day to promote environmental justice by enforcing critical environmental protections, fighting the climate crisis, and ensuring that every DC resident has access to clean water and air. On Tuesday, we announced a suit against more than 25 chemical companies that profited by producing, selling, and distributing dangerous PFAS or “forever” chemicals that have polluted DC’s air, land, and waterways. For decades, these companies misled the public and government regulators about the health and safety risks their products posed. Through this lawsuit, we will hold these companies accountable for the damage they have caused and continue to cause, and ensure they bear the full cost of the cleanup effort.
DC’s Minimum Wage Has Increased!
As of July 1, DC’s minimum wage is $17.00 per hour, and the tipped minimum wage is $8.00 per hour. Learn more about the minimum wage and workers’ rights by visiting our website. If you believe you’ve been a victim of wage theft or other wage and hour violations, you can contact OAG by:
Kicking Off Our Series of Topic-Specific Community Conversations Alongside DC At-Large Councilmembers
Given the high levels of interest and engagement in our Citywide Ward Listening Tour earlier this year, OAG will continue the dialogue with topic-specific community conversations alongside the District’s At-Large Councilmembers. Our first event was last week with Councilmember Christina Henderson and centered on environmental health and justice in the District. This event included a robust dialogue with our featured speaker Janet Phoenix M.D., M.P.H. and Assistant Research Professor, Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, and covered a range of topics, including lead pipe abatement, environmental lead poisoning, and illegal dumping. Click here for more information about upcoming events.
CONSUMER ALERT: Payments on Federal Student Loans Will Resume in October
Student loan borrowers: student loan interest will resume starting on September 1, 2023, and payment obligations will restart in October 2023. Last week, my office issued a consumer alert informing DC residents about the upcoming restart of federal student loan payments and what they can do now to prepare. Click here to see the full consumer alert.
DC Needs a Whole-of-Government Effort to Improve Public Safety
Improving public safety is OAG’s top priority. OAG prosecutes all serious and violent crimes committed by juveniles, including carjacking and armed robbery, where we have the evidence needed to do so. But to truly improve public safety, it is critical that we work alongside our government partners and community members to address the root causes of crime. We can make DC safer by stopping crime before it happens. Addressing the systemic factors that give rise to crime will make us safer now and in the long run. Earlier this month, I attended a community meeting hosted by Stop the Violence at THEARC alongside the Metropolitan Police Department, Councilmember Trayon White, and Advisory Neighborhood Commissions. At this meeting, we heard thoughtful and innovative ideas on how to make our city a safer place to live and work.
Celebrating Independence Day and the Freedoms We Enjoy
On Independence Day, I joined fellow Americans in reflecting on the many freedoms we enjoy in this country, while also recognizing the vital work we must do to ensure those freedoms are shared as widely and as fully as promised since its founding. We honored our nation’s birth by marching alongside residents in both the Palisades and Capitol Hill and celebrating the rights and liberties for which I am grateful on a daily basis. We had a wonderful time. I hope that the rest of your summer is safe, relaxing, and filled with fun times with family and friends.
Securing more than $215,000 for DC Consumers Deceived by Predatory Lender
OAG aggressively enforces DC’s consumer protection laws. Last week, our office effectively shut down EasyPay—a predatory rent-a-bank lender operating in DC—after alleging that they used deceptive practices to charge DC residents exorbitant interest rates and trapped customers in cycles of debt, with rates averaging 163% APR—roughly 7 times higher than DC’s 24% limit. OAG will pursue every avenue to prevent out-of-state lenders from evading the District’s interest rate cap.