Mass. AG Q+A: Healey looking forward to her second year in office
BOSTON >> Attorney General Maura Healey, a political newcomer, surprised many in 2014 by winning the second most influential statewide office in Massachusetts. But the Democrat's true test began after she was sworn in last January and faced a range of thorny issues from the state's opioid crisis to fantasy sports.
The Associated Press recently sat down with Healey.
AP: President Barack Obama is moving to beef up federal gun laws. Massachusetts already has strict firearms statutes. Is there more to be done here?
Healey: "We're taking a look at gun sales right now in this state. We do have laws on the books. We want to make sure that gun dealers and sellers are complying with the laws, and we have investigations underway to make sure that is happening ... but we also have a problem with illegal guns coming into the state from places like Maine and New Hampshire and up from the south. It's why we need a federal solution."
AP: "Volkswagen customers were shocked by revelations that emissions-cheating software was found in some VW cars. What is your office doing?
Healey: "It's devastating for consumers who thought that they were buying a car that was more environmentally friendly and doing something that was positive for the environment. ... People are rightly really, really upset about this.
"We're going to be aggressive and we're going to go hard after this and try to make sure that consumers in Massachusetts are made whole."
AP: Attorneys general in New York and Illinois have moved to block fantasy sports sites like Boston-based DraftKings and New York-based FanDuel. You've recommended regulations instead. Was that the right move?
Healey: "We looked at the facts and we made the call that we thought was appropriate based on the law and the facts here, and really made a decision that I thought was in the best interests of consumers: protecting young people; protecting against problem gambling; ensuring fairness and transparency, adequate disclosures and fairness in the market."
AP: Republican Gov. Charlie Baker has called addiction "a chronic illness, not a moral failure." If so, does the state need to take a second look at its drug laws?
Healey: "I think about addiction as a disease in the same way we think about diabetes as a disease or heart disease as a disease, and for far too long we haven't treated addiction as a disease. We punish people."
"I think we still need to make sure we are protecting public safety. We've seen some of the rise in crime and break-ins. ... We've seen the uptick in property crimes and the like fueled by those using. This is what I mean about trying to get people into treatment."
AP: There are a number of bills still pending at the Statehouse, including energy and public records measures. Do you have any other bills you'd like to see move forward this year?
Healey: "Those things are really important. We've weighed in on both of those issues. Another one that will come up is the transgender bill. Public accommodation is something that I think is a matter of fundamental human civil rights and equality in the state. We're behind many other states on this issue and we ought to (pass the bill) for the sake of transgender people, particularly young people who are so often harassed or bullied."
AP: What about efforts to strengthen the state's public records laws?
Healey: "We need reform. I think that's clear. We've been far behind some other states and we need to fix that. I believe in transparency. I believe that's really important to the functioning of government, to people's faith in government, to our democracy. ... It's also been my view that no branch of government should have a blanket exemption when it comes to public records law."
AP: You're a big supporter of Hillary Clinton. Do you plan to continue campaigning for her?
Healey: "I do. In my off time I have been out canvassing for Hillary Clinton. I think she'd be a terrific president. I think she's the kind of president we need right now in today's world."
AP: Have you enjoyed your first year as attorney general?
Healey: "I love my job. I love the energy. It's hard to believe it's gone so quickly. There are some things I didn't expect. I didn't expect to feel like time is so limited. ... You just feel there are never enough hours in the day."
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