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Blog Post | Public Health

"Closer to Customers" | Emily Scarr

Steve Easterbrook, the President and CEO of McDonald's, last week put out a 23 minute video talking about changes afoot with the fast food giant. He bluntly said, "Our recent performance has been poor."

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Event 5/11 re new book on black box decisionmaking & consumers | Ed Mierzwinski

UPDATED TO CONFIRM CFPB Speaker. We are hosting an event Monday, 5/11, from 9am-noon ET to discuss a new book, The Black Box Society, with author Frank Pasquale. Click Keep Reading to RSVP to attend in person or to watch the livestream. While credit bureaus have long functioned as black box gatekeepers to opportunity, panelists will discuss the growing use of more and more, even less transparent black boxes to categorize consumers in the digital economy.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation and Frontier Group | Transportation

New Report Finds Drivers Pay Less Than Half the Cost of Roads

As Congress struggles to renew the federal transportation law, a new report from the Maryland PIRG Foundation and Frontier Group finds that drivers currently pay less than half the total cost of roads, and argues that while increasing gas taxes could fill the shortfall, it would leave other problems unaddressed.

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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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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

PIRG Commends Supporters of Duckworth Amendment to Protect Our Troops From High-Cost Loans

Last night, on a 32-30 bipartisan vote, the House Armed Services Committee supported the Tammy Duckworth (IL) amendment to strike language from the National Defense Authorization Act that would have delayed Pentagon-proposed improvements to the Military Lending Act of 2007. It's a critical victory for servicemembers, veterans and their families, although the fight to protect our troops from high-cost loans will continue.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

PIRG Commends Release of Labor Dept.'s Proposed Rule To End Conflicted Retirement Advice

PIRG today commended the public release of the Department of Labor’s proposed rule that would strengthen the ability for Americans to save for retirement by addressing conflicts of interest that arise when brokers and financial advisers give retirement advice. Wall Street will fight the rule hard, because it requires them to put consumers first.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Tax

Maryland Small Businesses Foot $1 Billion Bill from Offshore Tax Dodging

As Tax Day approaches, it’s important to remember that small businesses end up picking up the tab for offshore tax loopholes used by many large multinational corporations. Today, Maryland PIRG released a new study by the Maryland PIRG Foundation revealing that the average Maryland small business owner would have to pay an extra $1,599 in taxes to make up for the money lost in 2014 due to offshore tax haven abuse by large multinational corporations. 

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Public Health

MARYLAND PIRG DELIVERS 135,000 PETITIONS TO WALGREENS – CALLS ON RETAILER TO PHASE OUT TOXIC CHEMICALS THAT TRIGGER ASTHMA

Baltimore, MD – Today Maryland health and environmental advocates delivered thousands of petitions from Maryland customers calling on Walgreen’s to adopt a comprehensive policy to phase out toxic chemicals in products. In total the group delivered 135,000 petitions to Walgreen’s from their customers across the country.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Democracy

Congressmen Sarbanes, Van Hollen join Maryland PIRG and students at roundtable discussion on solutions to big money in elections

Maryland PIRG, joined today by Congressman Chris Van Hollen (MD8) Congressman John Sarbanes (MD3), former Montgomery County Councilman Phil Andrews, University of Maryland Government and Politics professor Michael Spivey, and U.S. PIRG Democracy Campaign Director Dan Smith and a crowd of students gathered at the University of Maryland to participate in a roundtable discussion about the problem of big money in politics, the available solutions, and what we can do here in Maryland to fix it.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Democracy

MaryPIRG Discussion on Money in Politics with Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD8) and Rep. John Sarbanes (MD3)

UMD MaryPIRG will host a panel discussion on money in politics and small donor campaign financing. The event will kick off with a panel and discussion followed by a screening of John Ennis’ film, Pay 2 Play, which looks into the effects of dark money influence on American politics.

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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 | 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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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice | Tax

Offshore Shell Games

Many large U.S.-based multinational corporations avoid paying U.S. taxes by using accounting tricks to make profits made in America appear to be generated in offshore tax havens – countries with minimal or no taxes. By booking profits to subsidiaries registered in tax havens, multinational corporations are able to avoid an estimated $90 billion in federal income taxes each year. These subsidiaries are often shell companies with few, if any employees, and which engage in little to no real business activity. 

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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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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

The Unfriendly Skies

Consolidation in the airline industry, along with pressures created by new security rules and the recent high cost of aviation gasoline, has changed the way we fly. It seems as if every consumer has an airline travel story—how they were trapped on the tarmac, tricked by fees, missed their connection, or lost their bag.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

CFPB Begins Payday Regulation Push In Richmond | Ed Mierzwinski

We joined the CFPB in Richmond Thursday for a field hearing on a proposed rule to regulate payday lending and similar high-cost short-term loans. The CFPB's draft rule is comprehensive, covering a variety of loans, but it contains potential loopholes that we and other advocates will urge the bureau to close before it finalizes this important effort. Here's a short blog with some photos from Richmond.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

CFPB Adds Consumer Stories to Public Complaint Database | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, the CFPB took a step to make its excellent public database of consumer complaints even better, by adding complaint narratives (stories), but only with the consumer's consent. It's a step we've long urged. It will enrich our research into the marketplace, help consumers make choices and help good-actor firms avoid bad practices by others.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Udall-Vitter Toxic Chemical "Safety" Bill Does not go far enough | Emily Scarr

Today, the US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on the Vitter-Udall Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. We are concerned that the bill undermines state action to protect public health from toxic chemical exposure while falling far short of doing so itself.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Testimony in support of SB463 HB701 - Use of Antimicrobial Drugs in Agriculture | Emily Scarr

Maryland PIRG supports the passage of SB 463. Maryland PIRG staff have been working with the public health community, small farmers, and restaurant owners to address the public health problem of antibiotic resistance by calling on agriculture to stop the overuse of antibiotics on animals raised for meat.

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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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Priority Action

The overuse of antibiotics on factory farms is threatening these lifesaving medicines. Call on big restaurants to do their part and stop buying meat raised with critical antibiotics.

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