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Bill Summary Details

Attorney General Designation of Matters of Great Governmental Concern (Oppose – Preemption)

HB 1053 (Overdorf) and CS/SB 102 (Burgess) will have the effect of limiting or prohibiting various civil actions and class action matters by local governments including recent class actions involving opioids, PFAS and predatory lending. HB 1053 authorizes the attorney general to unilaterally declare circumstances involving economic loss or harm to governmental entities in five or more counties as a “matter of great governmental concern.” CS/SB 102 authorizes the Legislature by concurrent resolution to declare any circumstance that has caused economic or similar harm to governmental entities in 15 or more counties to be a matter of great governmental concern. Upon such a declaration, the attorney general would have sole authority to file a civil action on behalf of the affected governmental entities. The bills authorize the attorney general to intervene in any pending civil proceeding in federal or state court (including pending appeals) and dismiss, consolidate, settle or take any action he or she believes to be in the public interest. A declaration by the attorney general that a matter is of great governmental concern will operate to abate or stay any pending civil action unless and until the attorney general takes an action in the proceeding. The bills require governmental entities that are parties to any action that has been declared a matter of great governmental interest to notify the attorney general of the existence of the action and provide that any settlement or resolution of a proceeding by a governmental entity after the attorney general’s declaration and without the attorney general’s consent is void. The declaration of a matter of great governmental concern is not “final agency action” subject to review under the Administrative Procedure Act. The bills provide a process by which governmental entities may apply to a court to recover attorney fees and costs incurred prior to the attorney general’s declaration, but they fail to identify a source of funding, responsible party or conditions for obtaining such recovery. (O’Hara)