After their first meeting with new U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, state attorneys general say they are hopeful they can forge better relations with Washington, D.C., on environmental protection, sex offender policy and other subjects that became state-federal battlegrounds during the Bush administration. In interviews with Stateline.org in Washington after listening to Holder speak, state attorneys general of both parties said there were early signs that the Obama administration is working to improve relations.
Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler, a Democrat, hailed the administration's January decision to review a Bush-era Environmental Protection Agency order preventing the Free State and 13 others, led by California, from setting stricter auto emissions limits than those set by the federal government. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, a Republican, praised Obama for including more than $2 billion in funding for anti-drug efforts in the recently approved economic stimulus package. The money comes in the form of direct grants to states and localities to pay for drug task forces, prosecutors and other law enforcement needs. The Bush administration repeatedly sought to eliminate the grant program that Suthers and other state attorneys general pushed.