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Tribal advocates keep up legal pressure for fair political maps; 12-member jury sworn in for Trump's historic criminal trial; the importance of healthcare decision planning; and a debt dilemma: poll shows how many people wrestle with college costs.

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Civil rights activists say a court ruling could end the right to protest in three southern states, a federal judge lets January 6th lawsuits proceed against former President Trump, and police arrest dozens at a Columbia University Gaza protest.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

AZ Joins USDA to Tackle Lack of Competition in Food Industry

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Friday, July 28, 2023   

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes has joined a group of bipartisan state attorneys general to beef up enforcement and prevent anti-trust activity within the nation's food system. The move comes amid lingering questions about whether consumers are getting a fair shake.

The 31 attorneys general are working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ultimately bring down food costs and create more choices at the supermarket. While recent inflation spikes have been a factor, officials say part of the focus is the possibility of price gouging.

Teresa Murray, a consumer watchdog with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, said it's worth taking a closer look.

"We very much believe in a free market," he said, "but not when it comes to crossing the line of trying to take advantage of individuals and families who are just trying to feed their kids. "

Beyond price structures, the USDA has said states will also be on the lookout for conflicts of interest, misuse of intellectual property and anti-competitive barriers across the food and agriculture supply chains.

Business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce oppose the move, calling it an "overreach."

Murray said while there have been rumblings about these issues, it's hard to go into a grocery store, see higher prices, and know for sure whether corporate greed is at play.

"What are the manufacturing costs? What are the labor costs - which probably have gone up? What are the supply chain costs? What are the distribution costs? And then where, at the end, is there a profit," she said, "and is anybody along the way taking advantage of the situation?"

But she said this large group joining forces speaks volumes about the desire to protect consumers. Murray added that there's no federal statute addressing price gouging, so state enforcement will be important.

Arizona doesn't currently have a price-gouging law on the books.


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