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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Delayed CFPB/Other Wall Street Reform Rollbacks Happening Today On House Floor | Ed Mierzwinski

Last month the House canceled floor consideration of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill. FSGG is back on the floor today and tomorrow. We urge support of amendments to protect the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) but, since they won't pass, we urge a no vote on the bill. Here's an updated excerpt from my previous blog.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Far From Done: Statement on Controversial Chemical Law Signed by President | Juliana Bilowich

 

Maryland PIRG is disappointed with the overhaul of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which passed Congress this month and was signed by the President last week. While the reforms improve some of the EPA’s authority to test and regulate chemicals, the law falls far short of keeping toxic chemicals out of the products we buy and use. In the aftermath of TSCA reforms, states can – and should – continue to play a vital role in protecting families from chemical exposure.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Consumer Protection

‘Getting Personal with Chemicals’

 

Baltimore, MD – A survey released today by the Maryland Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) found toxic chemicals in shampoos, baby wipes, moisturizers, soaps, and other hygiene and beauty products, calling into question the safety screening mechanisms for chemical ingredients. The new guide covers chemical hazards in ten commonly used personal care products by major brands like Unilever and Proctor and Gamble.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Court Rejects PIRG-Opposed Swipe Fee Settlement With Visa/Mastercard | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit threw out a preliminary $7.25 billion settlement between Visa and Mastercard and any merchant accepting credit cards (including U.S. PIRG), ruling that despite that seemingly massive payment for past practices that the settlement gave inadequate relief to merchants going forward, as it essentially immunized the networks for any future illegal conduct while providing mostly illusory benefits. Since we accept credit cards from our members, we, joined by Consumer Reports, had formally objected to the settlement as consumer advocates who also happen to be merchant class members (most merchant associations also objected).

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Food

Health Advocates Call On Safeway to Eliminate BPA in Food Cans

 

Baltimore, MD: Concerned students and local health advocates joined a national movement this week urging Safeway to stop selling food cans containing toxic bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical linked to breast and prostate cancer, infertility, and type-2 diabetes. After talking to shoppers outside the Charles Village Safeway in Baltimore on Wednesday, advocates and students met with the store manager to return toxic food cans and discuss solutions.

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News Release | U.S.PIRG | Consumer Protection

Strong National Payday Rule Could Save Consumers Billions

Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released its draft high cost small dollar lending (payday and auto title) loan rule for public comment. 

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LATimes: Obama's consumer protection legacy defined by aggressive agency

[This weekend, the Los Angele Times chronicled President Obama's consumer protection record, with heavy emphasis on the history and fight over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB):]

"[...] Launched in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the bureau is one of President Obama’s signature accomplishments. [...] “I think you have to consider him a tremendous president for consumers,” said Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group."

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Media Hit | Public Health

Juliana Bilowich: Maryland’s chemical protections

The morning before my mom told me she had breast cancer, we went shoe shopping to pick out sandals for the coming summer. I stared down at those sandals as she told me the news, and because I didn’t dare ask my first question – how long until it gets bad – I asked my second question: How did this happen?

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Media Hit | Public Health

Congress poised to pass sweeping reform of chemical law

Congress is on the cusp of passing the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. chemical safety laws in 40 years, a rare bipartisan accord that has won the backing of both industry officials and some of the Hill’s most liberal lawmakers.

The Toxic Substances Control Act, which has not been reauthorized since President Gerald Ford signed it into law in 1976, regulates thousands of chemicals in everyday products including detergents and flame retardants. It has come under sharp criticism as ineffective from all quarters, including environmentalists who back stronger federal oversight and chemical companies that are now subject to a patchwork of more stringent rules in some states.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG and Fair Elections Maryland | Democracy

Montgomery County Increases Investment in Groundbreaking Fair Elections Program

(Rockville) – Today the Montgomery County Council made a critical investment in democracy by adding $5 million to its public election fund in its FY2017 budget. While this amount is only a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the County’s overall budget, it represents a real commitment to amplifying the voices of small donors in county politics and diluting the influence of wealthy special interests. With adequate funding, the program will be up and running for the next county elections, encouraging more voters to participate in county elections and providing opportunities for a wider range of candidates to run for office.

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Result | Public Health

Convincing McDonald’s and Subway to protect public health

In 2015, bolstered by the support of more than 100,000 members and supporters, we convinced both McDonald’s and Subway to take action to protect public health. In March, just two days after we delivered more than 30,000 petitions to McDonald’s headquarters, the company announced that they would stop serving chicken raised on medically-important antibiotics. And in October, after more than 100,000 called on the chain to take action, Subway announced a similar policy for all the meat they serve.

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Result | Higher Ed

Protecting students from unfair bank fees

We helped win protections for students from unfair fees associated with campus bank accounts. The new rules, released by the U.S. Department of Education, ban some of the worst and most predatory fees that students encounter from banks.

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Result | Public Health

Victory: Macy's commits to phase out toxic flame retardents

We did it: Macy's announced it will stop selling furniture that contains toxic flame retardants.

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Result | Public Health

Victory: Subway Announces Plan to Go Antibiotic Free

We're ecstatic that Subway will be living up to the healthy image they've created. They have more restaurants in the U.S. than any other chain, and their announcement will put major market pressure on the meat producers to stop overusing antibiotics.

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Result | Safe Energy

Commission Renews and Expands Commitment to EmPOWER Maryland

The Maryland Public Service Commission has ordered a series of measures that will expand and refocus—and ultimately improve—programs designed to meet the goals of the EmPOWER Maryland Energy Efficiency Act of 2008.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

Why You Should Get Security Freezes Before Your Information is Stolen

A never ending stream of news reports about data breaches – including T-Mobile, Target Corporation, the IRS, numerous Blue Cross Blue Shield and other health plans, the University of Maryland, and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) - is a constant reminder that we're at risk of a data breach and therefore, identity theft.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Democracy

Boosting the Impact of Small Donors

The vast majority of the funds raised for the 2016 election have come from wealthy donors making contributions exponentially larger than most Americans can afford, typically to super PACs and other organizations that can legally accept donations of any size. This report examines how the 2016 presidential race would be reshaped by a public financing system that amplifies the voices of small donors in our elections.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

Mortgages and Mortgage Complaints

Our sixth report analyzing complaints in the CFPB's Public Consumer Complaint Database evaluates mortgage complaints, the number one source of complaints to the CFPB, totaling 38% of nearly 500,000 complaints posted since 2011.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Transportation

Who Pays for the Roads

Many Americans believe that drivers pay the full cost of the roads they use through gas taxes and other user fees. That has never been true, and it is less true now than at any other point in modern times. Today, general taxes paid byall tax- payers cover nearly as much of the cost of building and maintaining highways as the gas tax and other fees paid by drivers.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Tax

Picking Up the Tab 2015

Every year, corporations and wealthy individuals use complicated gimmicks to shift U.S. earnings to subsidiaries in offshore tax havens – countries with minimal or no taxes – in order to reduce their federal and state income tax liabilities by billions of dollars. While tax haven abusers benefit from America’s markets, public infrastructure, educated workforce, security and rule of law – all supported in one way or another by tax dollars – they continue to avoid paying for these benefits.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Court Rejects PIRG-Opposed Swipe Fee Settlement With Visa/Mastercard | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit threw out a preliminary $7.25 billion settlement between Visa and Mastercard and any merchant accepting credit cards (including U.S. PIRG), ruling that despite that seemingly massive payment for past practices that the settlement gave inadequate relief to merchants going forward, as it essentially immunized the networks for any future illegal conduct while providing mostly illusory benefits. Since we accept credit cards from our members, we, joined by Consumer Reports, had formally objected to the settlement as consumer advocates who also happen to be merchant class members (most merchant associations also objected).

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

House Launches Frenzy of Attacks on CFPB, Public Protections | Ed Mierzwinski

Today and tomorrow the House floor showcases a variety of special-interest backed bills designed to eliminate public protections and weaken financial reform. Action starts soon with an attempt to override the President's veto of legislation to wipe away a new Department of Labor rule designed to protect hard-earned retirement savings from Wall Streeters seeking their "share" of your own share. Then, the House will consider the massive FSGG Appropriations bill, which rolls back the independence and authority of the CFPB and other financial reforms. Finally, they've teed up a bill to eliminate the Supreme Court's long-standing "Chevron doctrine," which says that courts must defer to expert agencies in certain circumstances. Without the doctrine in place, polluters and wrongdoers will have more opportunities to challenge public protections.

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Blog Post

Three years later: 50% of Safeway store brand food cans still contain toxic BPA | Juliana Bilowich

 

Three years ago, our coalition requested that Safeway develop a comprehensive plan to address Hazardous 100+ chemicals in the products it sells, including the toxic chemical bisphenol A. BPA has been linked to cancer, infertility, and type-2 diabetes, and it is already banned in infant formula packaging, sippy cups, and other products. Clearly, there is no place for BPA in our food cans.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Clean Transportation Doesn’t Need To Be A Distant Utopia | John Olivieri

For many, when they think of combating global warming, they think of solar panels on rooftops and eliminating coal fired power plants. But, the truth is, there is not an effective solution to address global warming that does not deal with transportation as well.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Free Webinar: Engaging Maryland Businesses in Chemical Policy Reform | Juliana Bilowich

Maryland PIRG is teaming up with the Chesapeake Sustainable Business Council to present a free webinar! Maryland businesses will learn about chemical regulations that affect business; discuss chemicals and products that affect the health of employees and customers; and learn how to engage in the policy reform process!

Join us on Wednesday, June 29th, from 2-3pm to help make your business voice heard!

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Priority Action

We're teaming up with big restaurant chains to stop the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms. Call on KFC to stop selling meat raised on routine antibiotics.

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