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Media Hit | Tax

Slightly Brighter Sunlight

Maryland is gradually improving its scoring when it comes to being transparent to the public, having moved from a C to a B- in a recently released report card from the Maryland PIRG Foundation.

That grade could get better: Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law this week legislation that may shine a little more light into the dark and dusty corners of state spending.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Tax

Poll: Public Wants Federal Agencies to Disclose and Restrict Corporate Tax Write Offs for Out-of-Court Settlements

A new poll shows that Americans want federal agencies to better disclose information about out-of-court settlements with corporations and to restrict companies from writing off these payments as tax deductions.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Tax

Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Maryland Taxpayer $1,259 a Year, MD Small Business $4,118

As hardworking Americans file their taxes today, it’s a good time to be reminded of how ordinary taxpayers pick up the tab for the loopholes in our tax laws. Maryland PIRG released a new study which revealed that the average Maryland taxpayer in 2013 would have to shoulder an extra $1,259 in taxes to make up for the revenue lost due to the use of offshore tax havens by corporations and wealthy individuals.

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Media Hit | Tax

State lawmakers hope new law improves spending transparency score

Some lawmakers hope legislation passed this year will move Maryland out of the middle of the pack when it comes to government spending transparency.

The fifth annual report on government spending transparency released last week by Maryland PIRG Foundation gave the Old Line State a B-, up from a C last year.

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Report | Maryland PIRG | Tax

Picking up the tab 2014

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 state and federal income tax liability by billions of dollars. 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 – but they avoid paying for these benefits.

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Media Hit | Tax

Report: Maryland earns slightly higher grade for online transparency

The report, called “Following the Money 2014,” ranked Maryland 23rd in the country for its spending transparency website — tied with Pennsylvania — scoring 82.5 out of a possible 100 points. This year marks the fifth year that the report has been released by U.S. PIRG.

Maryland received a grade of B- from the report’s authors in an analysis of the content on the state’s transparency website and how easy the website is to use. The grade is an improvement from last year’s grade of a C for the website.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Tax

New Report: Maryland Receives a B- in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending

Maryland received a “B-“ when it comes to government spending transparency, according to “Following the Money 2014: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data,” the fifth annual report of its kind by the Maryland PIRG Foundation.

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Media Hit | Democracy

Supreme Court Gets It Wrong (again) On Campaign Finance

The court's decision to eliminate federal limits on the total amount of money that mega-donors can contribute during an election cycle empowers a tiny group of fewer than 3,000 elite donors to spend an additional billion dollars in our elections through 2020.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Tax

NEW REPORT TO GRADE MARYLAND AND OTHER STATES ON SPENDING TRANSPARENCY

The Maryland PIRG Foundation will release a new report, “Following the Money 2014: How the 50 States Rate in Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data,” evaluating each state on how well it provides spending information online and assigning them with “A” to “F” letter grades. The report will reveal Maryland’s letter grade, compare its public disclosure of spending information to other states, and provide recommendations for improvements.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Democracy

TODAY SUPREME COURT RULED FOR ANOTHER FLOOD OF BIG MONEY

Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in McCutcheon v. FEC to strike down overall, or aggregate, contribution limits to candidates and political committees. Maryland PIRG research found that this ruling could bring $1 billion in additional campaign contributions from fewer than 2,800 elite donors through the 2020 election cycle.

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Result | Safe Energy

EmPOWER Maryland Act

In 2008, Maryland PIRG helped pass the EmPOWER Maryland Act, which sets a statewide goal of reducing per capita electricity use 15% by 2015.

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Despite Big Tobacco, winning smoke-free restaurants

In 2007, Maryland PIRG Foundation and Maryland PIRG Citizen Lobby helped lead the campaign to make all Baltimore workplaces, including restaurants and bars, smoke-free.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Transportation

Transportation in Transition

Tranportation in Transition

 

Americans’ transportation habits have changed. The average American drives 7.6 percent fewer miles today than when per-capita driving peaked in 2004.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland 2013

The 2013 Trouble in Toyland report is the 28th annual Maryland Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) survey of toy safety. In this report, Maryland PIRG provides safety guidelines for consumers when purchasing toys for small children and provides examples of toys currently on store shelves that may pose potential safety hazards.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection, Safe Energy

Stepping Up to Bigger Savings

Energy efficiency is one of the best investments Maryland can make in its electricity system. Energy efficiency saves money on energy, increases the reliability of the state’s electricity supply, and reduces harmful pollution from power plants. Recognizing these benefits, the state passed the EmPOWER Maryland Act in 2007, which directs utilities to cut per-capita energy use 15 percent below 2007 levels by 2015.

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Private Loans, Public Complaints

This report is the second of several that will review complaints to the CFPB nationally and on a state-by-state level. In this report we explore consumer complaints in the private student loan sector with the aim of uncovering patterns in the problems consumers are experiencing with their student loans.

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Report | Maryland PIRG, Demos | Democracy

McCutcheon Money

This term, the Supreme Court is considering a challenge to aggregate contribution limits in a case called McCutcheon v. FEC. The current limit on what one person may contribute to all federal candidates, parties and PACs is $123,200. Absent this limit, one wealthy donor would be permitted to contribute more than $3.5 million to a single party’s candidates and party committees (plus a virtually unlimited amount to supportive PACs).

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Blog Post | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Toy Safety Tips | Emily Scarr

For 28 years, Maryland PIRG Foundation has worked to identify unsafe toys. Below are our top tips to help you choose the safest toys for the children in your life.

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Blog Post | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Bag-O-Glass? Tips on finding both the visible and invisible toy dangers. | Emily Scarr

This iconic SNL skit "Bag 'O Glass," features toys you should NOT buy, courtesy of Dan Akroyd and Candice Bergen. Today, toys are safer then ever.... but there are still some toys to avoid.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

CFPB Report Shows Credit CARD Act Works | Ed Mierzwinski

Last week, the CFPB released a report showing that the landmark PIRG-backed Credit CARD Act of 2009 is saving consumers billions of dollars by helping them avoid penalty fees and unfair interest rate increases. We joined CFPB director Richard Cordray and others in Chicago to discuss the report's findings.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Governor O’Malley On Board for Baltimore Public Transit | Emily Scarr

Yesterday, Governor O’Malley outlined a $1.5 billion, 6-year transportation plan for Baltimore that includes major investment in modern public transportation infrastructure. Maryland PIRG thanks the Governor for a commitment today that reflects and supports the way Marylanders want to travel, investing in the 21st century public transportation infrastructure that we have long awaited.

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Blog Post | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Celebrating the mandatory toy safety standard—An important provision of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act | Jenny Levin

These days, we can mostly expect that toys sold on store shelves are tested to meet adequately strict safety standards — but that hasn’t always been the case. In 2007, toys with beloved childhood icons like Thomas the Tank Engine and Elmo were recalled because they contained excessive levels of lead. Another toy, when swallowed, created a toxic drug; yet another posed serious hazards due to strong magnets that could tear a child’s stomach lining if two or more pieces were swallowed.

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