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Defending the ACA, Advocating for Small Businesses, & Calling for the Reauthorization of Violence Against Women Act

May 8, 2020

Actions taken by the AG Donovan during the week of May 4 – May 8

Contact: Charity R. Clark, Chief of Staff, 802-828-3171

The Attorney General’s Office has been hard at work for Vermont this week. “My office’s mission and dedication to protecting Vermonters remain steadfast in these unprecedented times,” said Attorney General T.J. Donovan. “We will continue to do our part in the COVID-19 pandemic. Vermont will get through this together.” Here are some of the actions taken by the Attorney General’s Office during the week of May 4 to May 8, 2020:

Defending the Affordable Care Act

On Wednesday, May 6, Vermont joined a coalition in filing a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court to defend the Affordable Care Act (ACA) against efforts by the Trump Administration and the State of Texas to repeal the ACA. Repealing the ACA would put the health care of millions of Americans at risk. The Court agreed to review a recent Fifth Circuit decision that held the ACA’s individual mandate unconstitutional and called into question whether the remaining provisions of the law could still stand. This decision would jeopardize Medicaid expansion, critical public health programs that help fight COVID-19, and subsidies that help working families access care, among countless others.

Calling for equity and fairness in the distribution of Paycheck Protection Program

On Wednesday, May 6, Attorney General Donovan joined a coalition of 24 attorneys general in calling for key changes to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to ensure that funds are distributed fairly and equitably. In a letter to Congress, the coalition expressed concerns that the program, while helping some small businesses and their employees, suffered from a lack of transparency, technical savvy, and functionality that led to funds being distributed in a way that overly benefitted large, well-connected companies. The coalition argues that both the first and second rounds of funding with this program have left many small businesses across the country underserved by PPP. The coalition is calling for Congress to adopt the following measures before they allocate additional PPP funding:

  • Increase fair access funding for small businesses by ensuring that funding goes to small businesses and not large, publicly traded companies.
  • Ensure equitable distribution by establishing a portion of any future funding for the program be allocated exclusively for minority-owned small businesses, and that funding should be fairly distributed across metropolitan areas, and that small banks and credit unions should be fairly represented as lending sources involved in the program.
  • Promote better communication and transparency by directing the Small Business Administration to provide more guidance to businesses during the application process.
  • Create more flexibility and technical support for small businesses.

Addressing the shortage of laptops in time of remote learning

On Tuesday, May 5, Attorney General Donovan announced that he secured from Comcast a donation of 250 Chromebooks that were donated to the Orange-East Supervisory Union (OESU) for the benefit of students who did not have reliable access to tablets or computers. OESU consists of schools servicing Bradford, Newbury, Corinth, Groton, Ryegate, Thetford, Topsham, and Wells River. The Chromebooks were delivered on Monday, May 4, as announced in an earlier press release.

Improving enforcement against illegal robocallers

On Monday, May 4, Attorney General Donovan joined a bipartisan coalition of 52 attorneys general in calling on USTelecom – the leading organization representing telecommunications providers – and its Industry Traceback Group (ITG) to continue its collaboration with state attorneys general by bolstering technological capabilities to improve enforcement against illegal robocallers. The coalition’s letter asked USTelecom to advance the ITG’s abilities in identifying robocall campaigns, trends, and business ecosystems; conducting automated traceback investigations; and coordinating with relevant law enforcement agencies.

Advocating for reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act

On Monday, May 4, Attorney General Donovan joined a coalition of 24 attorneys general in urging the U.S. Senate to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which expired more than a year ago. In their letter, the attorneys general argue that isolation and uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic increase the risk of domestic violence and that the Senate must act immediately.