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AG Nessel Prepares for New Year with Look Back on 2021
December 28, 2021
LANSING - Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is sharing year-end highlights and previews as 2021 ends.
"Every single day, the dedicated people working for the Department of Attorney General remain focused on the important cases we handle, the consumers we protect and the clients we represent," Nessel said. "I am proud to serve alongside some of the hardest working people in state government. As 2022 approaches, it is my hope Michiganders can appreciate all that we've achieved this last year. My office will never stop fighting for the residents of this state."
Many of the big takeaways from the year are recapped in a one-page memo now available on the Department's website. The highlights and previews focus on consumer protection, law enforcement and notable civil litigation.
The memo notes Nessel has now saved ratepayers more than $1.8 billion since taking office. The most recent savings were announced Monday after MPSC ruled in a Consumers Energy rate case, which resulted in an 88% reduction from Consumers Energy's original request.
A dedicated three-person expungement team will join the Department in early 2022 to bolster ongoing efforts, which includes supporting expungement fairs. The Department's first-ever expungement fair was hosted in Flint in June. Nessel supported other events hosted in Muskegon, Kalamazoo and Detroit as well.
OTHER NOTABLE ACTIONS, CASES IN 2021
The registration process in two historic opioid settlements remains open. Late last week, the Jan. 2 deadline for eligible subdivisions was extended to Jan. 26. Direct payments are expected to begin as early as April 2022 and are dependent, in part, on participation.
In addition to securing an expected $800 million for Michigan in those settlements, Nessel's priority on combatting the opioid epidemic also resulted in a settlement with one of the world's largest consulting firms, McKinsey & Co. Michigan will receive more than $19.5 million from the settlement, which was announced in February as the first multistate opioid settlement to result in substantial payment to the states to address the crisis. Litigation against Walgreens, which is filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, remains ongoing.
As the vaccine rollout took shape, the Department closely monitored for scams and alerted Michiganders when bad actors tried to capitalize on the pandemic.
Thanks to a $500,000 allocation in the FY'22 budget, the Department is in the beginning stages of designing the Address Confidentiality Program. It will allow certain crime victims to apply for and receive a designated address to be used in place of their actual address. By law, the Department has two years to fully implement the program.
In addition to overseeing that important program, Nessel affirmed support for victims' privacy bills, which passed the House at the beginning of the month.
In November, Nessel joined Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist to unveil her Jobs Court proposal. The initiative was formulated to both reduce recidivism and address the current labor shortage.
The Department's Public Integrity Unit opened roughly 50 cases in 2021. Some of the most notable include:
- charging four former Northland Security Guards in the 2014 death of McKenzie Cochran;
- charging four Muskegon County deputies in the 2019 death of Paul Bulthouse; and
- securing jail time and ordered restitution against former EGLE employee Joseph Pettit.
Election integrity has remained another priority for Nessel, including combatting conspiracy theories and misinformation meant to undermine our democracy. Sanctions were secured in two election-related lawsuits in 2021, one was known as "The Kraken" in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The other was filed and failed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.
Lastly, Nessel's unwavering commitment to protect a woman's right to choose is evident through multistate actions, which include:
- joining DOJ's suit against Texas to challenge SB8;
- supporting a constitutional challenge of several Indiana laws that impose burdensome restrictions on abortion providers; and
- arguing that South Carolina's "fetal heartbeat" abortion regulations harm women's healthcare as a whole.
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