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Blog Post | Financial Reform

As NY Brings Credit Bureaus To Heel, CFPB Arbitration Study Paves Way Toward New Protections | Ed Mierzwinski

Two big consumer stories so far this week offer hope to consumers victimized by credit bureau errors and, more generally, by an inability to take credit bureaus, credit card companies, banks or payday lenders to court when harmed. On Monday, New York's Attorney General Eric Schneiderman signed a groundbreaking agreement with the Big Three credit bureaus, Equifax, Trans Union and Experian. Then today, the CFPB released a report finding that consumer legal rights are infringed by small-print forced arbitration clauses in credit card and other contracts.  The CFPB will hold a webcast public hearing at 11am Eastern time today (Tuesday) to discuss the report's findings and next steps.

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Blog Post | Public Health

YES for SB200 - Ban on microbeads in personal care products | Emily Scarr

Please encourage your senator to vote YES on SB200 as passed by committee to ban microbeads in Maryland.

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Media Hit | Financial Reform

Credit Bureaus’ Deal to Improve Accuracy ‘Huge’ for Consumers

(Bloomberg) -- Buying homes, getting jobs and borrowing money will be easier after an agreement by the three biggest U.S. consumer credit reporting services with New York.[...] “It’s a sea change in the way the credit bureaus treat complaints,” said [U.S. PIRG's Ed] Mierzwinski. “The credit bureaus have been run by computers for years now. They’re going to have to hire more people and actually verify that what a creditor said is true.”

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Is Anyone Protecting Your Privacy Or Wallet? Turbotax? Anthem? Apple? The Government? | Ed Mierzwinski

As if recent privacy breaches at the online tax preparer Turbotax and the health insurer Anthem weren't enough, it turns out that low-tech hacks can trick the vaunted Apple Pay system into giving up cash to thieves, too. Meanwhile, while the administration's blueprint for a Privacy Bill of Rights in 2012 was excellent, its new legislative draft from the Department of Commerce could have been written by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. There is some good news on privacy, though.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Democracy

National Groups and Investors Urge Maryland Legislature to Support Shareholders United Bill

Today, Maryland PIRG’s federal office, U.S. PIRG, joined a diverse group of twenty national advocacy organizations and investors calling on the Maryland General Assembly to support of the Shareholders United bill.

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Marylanders Tell Regulators: Reject the Exelon Takeover of Pepco

Marylanders from across the state registered their opposition to Exelon’s takeover of Pepco on the final day for public comment on the proposed merger before the Maryland Public Service Commission.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Consumer Protection, Safe Energy

Regional Opposition to Exelon’s Takeover of Pepco Is Strong

Maryland PIRG joined organization from DC, MD, and DE today to oppose the Exelon Pepco merger. Read Emily Scarr's statement.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation and Frontier Group | Transportation

New Report Ranks Baltimore 24th Among 70 Major American Cities For High-Tech Transportation Options

"The Innovative Transportation Index: The Cities Where New Technologies and Tools Can Reduce Your Need to Own a Car,” ranks Baltimore 24th amongst 70 major American cities in providing 11 different types of technology-enabled improvements including: carsharing, ridesharing, ridesourcing (like Uber and Lyft), taxi-hailing apps, bikesharing, and different forms of online and real time transit information and ticketing. 

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Democracy

Maryland PIRG Applauds Reintroduction of Reform Legislation on the Fifth Anniversary of Citizens United

“On the fifth anniversary of the wrong-headed Citizens United decision, the need to get big money out of our elections couldn’t be greater. Maryland PIRG applauds the reintroduction of critical reform legislation by over a dozen leaders in Congress today, including the Democracy for All Amendment, introduced by Senator Tom Udall, and the Government by the People Act, introduced by Maryland Rep. John Sarbanes.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG and Demos | Democracy

Study Shows Big Donors Dominated Competitive 2014 Congressional Races

New stude finds that the top two vote-getters in the 25 most competitive districts in 2014 got 86 percent of their campaign dollars from individuals giving $200 or more. Only two of the 50 candidates surveyed raised less than 70 percent of their individual contributions from big donors, and seven relied on big donors for more than 95 percent of their individual contributions.

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BPA Ban

In 2010, Maryland became the 4th state in the nation to phase out the toxic chemcial CPA from baby bottles and sippy cups.

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Ending Credit card abuses

Many abusive credit card practices, such as repeated over-the-limit fees and universal default are outlawed thanks to a 2010 federal law backed by Maryland PIRG.

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Voting and Democracy Protections

Money plays far too great a role in American elections, from the municipal level all the way up to the presidency.  Large contributions from a limited number of wealthy interests unduly influence who wins elections and reduce the role of citizen voters in our democracy. Maryland PIRG worked to protect voting rights and increase transparency.

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More and Better Public Transportation

In 2010, Maryland PIRG helped ensure that Maryalnd's transportation projects are in line with existing transportation goals

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Eliminating Toxic Mercury

In 2009, we played a role in addressing the largest manufacturing source of mercury in the state.

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Report | Maryland PIRG and Consumers Union | Public Health

Prescription For Change

Our September 2014 survey of physicians paints a grim picture of the growing problem of antibiotic-resistant infections. The overwhelming majority of surveyed doctors reported that one or more of their patients had been diagnosed with a presumed or confirmed case of a multi-drug resistant bacterial infection in the past twelve months. They also expressed concern about the use of antibiotics in livestock production facilities on healthy animals in order to promote growth and prevent disease.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation and Demos | Democracy

Big Money Dominates in Congressional Primaries

Our analysis of fund-raising data from 2014’s congressional primaries examines the way these dynamics are playing out state by state across the country.  We looked at two key factors: first, the proportion of all candidate contributions coming from donations of $1,000 or larger; and second, the number of large donors whose contributions matched all donations by small donors (those giving less than $200), combined. 

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation and Frontier Group | Transportation

Millennials in Motion

This report shows mounting evidence that the Millennial generation’s dramatic shift away from driving is more than temporary.

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Report | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

We Urge CFPB To Provide Mobile Financial Protections

Along with the Center for Digital Democracy, our co-investigator on a series of projects related to "big data" and financial opportunity, we've filed detailed comments to the CFPB regarding the need for strong consumer protections as more and more consumers use mobile financial services. We argue that "mobile technologies and services pose both opportunities and risks to consumers, their privacy, and to the kinds and price of services they are offered."

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Public Health

Weak Medicine

Antibiotic-resistant bacteria infect more than 2 million people per year in the United States, causing more than 23,000 deaths. State governments, the FDA and other branches of the federal government should take steps to protect human health from the antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can develop on factory farms.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Is Anyone Protecting Your Privacy Or Wallet? Turbotax? Anthem? Apple? The Government? | Ed Mierzwinski

As if recent privacy breaches at the online tax preparer Turbotax and the health insurer Anthem weren't enough, it turns out that low-tech hacks can trick the vaunted Apple Pay system into giving up cash to thieves, too. Meanwhile, while the administration's blueprint for a Privacy Bill of Rights in 2012 was excellent, its new legislative draft from the Department of Commerce could have been written by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. There is some good news on privacy, though.

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Blog Post | Solid Waste

Student Testimony on HB982 - SB684 - Maryland Redeemable Beverage Container and Litter Reduction Program | Emily Scarr

Maryland PIRG Student supports the “Maryland Redeemable Beverage Container and Litter Reduction Program” (HB 982). Maryland PIRG Student Chapters is a statewide, student directed, student funded public interest advocacy organization.

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Blog Post | Solid Waste

Testimony on HB982 - SB684 - Maryland Redeemable Beverage Container and Litter Reduction Program | Emily Scarr

Maryland PIRG and the groups listed above support the “Maryland Redeemable Beverage Container and Litter Reduction Program” HB 982, which establishes a statewide redeemable 5 cent deposit on single use beverage containers to decrease litter and waste. The program has a goal of achieving a 70% container recycling rate by 2022.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

As House Holds Oversight Hearing, 340 Groups Call For Defense of CFPB | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray will present the CFPB's sixth semi-annual report to the House Financial Services Committee, whose majority members have been harsh critics of the successful consumer agency. Americans for Financial Reform, joined by the state PIRGs and a total of 340 national, state and local groups, sent Congress a letter explaining why the idea of the CFPB needs no defense, only more defenders.

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Blog Post | Safe Energy

Exelon Asks Illinois Customers to Subsidize Nuclear Power Plants - Is MD next? | Emily Scarr

Today, Chicago-based Exelon Corporation, parent company of BGE, introduced legislation in Illinois to subsidize their aging and expensive nuclear power fleet in the state. Marylanders should take note of this proposal and its implications, especially as Exelon pursues a merger with Pepco Holdings.

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Priority Action

The overuse of antibiotics on factory farms is threatening the effectiveness of lifesaving antibiotics. Call on the FDA to put an end to the worst practices.

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