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Blog Post | Tax

Bipartisan Bill to Expose Tax Write-Offs for Corporate Wrongdoing Clears Committee | Phineas Baxandall

U.S. PIRG applauds the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee for approving the bipartisan Truth in Settlements Act. Thanks to a loophole in the law, companies paying out-of-court settlements to federal agencies can often deduct part of the cost from their tax bill as an ordinary business expense. This important bipartisan legislation would take the critical step of requiring the terms of these deals to be made public.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Consumer Protection

SHAREHOLDER RESOLUTION ASKS SAFEWAY TO LABEL ITS FOOD FOR GMOs

At its annual meeting this Friday, shareholders and advocacy groups will urge Safeway to label store brand products containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Green Century Capital Management filed a shareholder proposal with Safeway, citing unprecedented public demand for GMO labeling as a reason for Safeway to voluntarily provide this information.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

The CFPB at Three: A Child Prodigy | Ed Mierzwinski

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau turned just three years old Monday, July 21st, but when you look at its massive and compelling body of work, you must wonder: Are watchdog years like plain old dog years? Is the CFPB now a full-sized, 21-year-old adult?

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

Report: Citibank Most-Complained-About Credit Card Company in Maryland

Maryland consumers file more complaints about Citibank than any other credit card company, according to a report released today by the Maryland PIRG Foundation. The report, which looked at data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) public Consumer Complaints Database, also found that Maryland consumers are the third most likely to file credit card complaints.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Consumer Protection

New CFPB rules will protect homebuyers and homeowners

On Friday, January 10, new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) rules will go into effect that will help protect homeowners and homebuyers from the mortgage abuses that led to the housing crisis. In particular, consumers will get protections from lenders that make risky loans without checking a borrower’s income, assets, or ability to repay a loan.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Tax

Regulators Disallow Tax Deduction for JPMorgan’s $1.7 Billion Settlement, Saving Taxpayers Close to $600 Million

Maryland PIRG applauds regulators for protecting taxpayers in their recent settlement with JPMorgan over its gross oversights that allowed the Madoff Ponzi scheme to continue swindling people from around the nation out of billions of dollars.  By preventing JPMorgan from writing off its $1.7 billion payment, regulators saved taxpayers as much as $595 million.

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News Release | Consumer Protection

Groups Offer Consumer Tips After Target Data Breach

We joined other leading groups to issue consumer tips after the big retailer Target had 40 million credit and debit card numbers stolen. Our main message: Don't panic. Don't pay for over-priced credit monitoring. Do check your checking and credit card accounts regularly and get your free credit reports provided by law.

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Media Hit | Public Health

Indoor Chemical Exposure Linked to Childhood Asthma

According to a report by the Maryland Public Interest Research Group, common household products could cause your child to develop asthma. The report found that exposure to chemicals in common consumer products, such as air fresheners or cleaning supplies, can cause or aggravate childhood asthma. "A large and growing body of scientific research shows that many chemicals and consumer products and building materials are found in the air and are linked to asthma and asthma symptoms," Joanna Guy from the Maryland PIRG said. As of 2010, the number of children with asthma in Maryland exceeded the national percentage. In Baltimore City, about 40 percent of students are diagnosed with the disease and it is listed as the leading cause of absences. The Maryland PIRG is calling on the governor to publish a list of the chemicals. 

Read More at: http://www.foxbaltimore.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/report-indoor-chemical-exposure-linked-childhood-asthma-24145.shtml#.UrhpoSRQ1wt

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Report | Health Care

Making the Grade

When it comes to health care, there are few magic-bullet solutions for the many problems consumers face in the marketplace: insurers don’t compete for their business, leading to higher prices and lower quality. Yet there are policy solutions that can make a difference and give consumers a better deal on health care.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Budget, Tax

Tax-Increment Financing

Tax-increment financing (TIF) has been a widely used tool for municipalities seeking private investment. When used properly, TIF can promote enduring growth and stronger communities for blighted neighborhoods; but TIF can also end up wasting taxpayer resources or channeling money to politically favored special interests.

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Report | Budget, Tax

Toward Common Ground

To break through the ideological divide that has dominated Washington this past year and offer a pathway to address the nation’s fiscal problems, the National Taxpayer Union and U.S. PIRG joined together to identify mutually acceptable deficit reduction.

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10 Reasons We Need the CFPB Now

For years leading up to the 2008 financial collapse, federal bank regulators ignored numerous warnings of increasingly predatory mortgage practices, credit card tricks and unfair overdraft policies used by banks. This report outlines predatory financial practices that hurt consumers and helped collapse the economy, costing us eight million jobs, millions of foreclosed homes and trillions of dollars in lost home and retirement values. It explains these and other emerging problems as “10 Reasons We Need The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Now.”

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Report | Health Care

Building a Better Health Care Marketplace

Consumers across the state know that the health insurance marketplace is broken. The creation of a new health insurance exchange offers our state the chance to build a better marketplace for health care.

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Blog Post | Food, Tax

Senate Farm Bill Moves to Floor | Jenny Levin

The Senate is moving to vote on the farm bill, S.3240, that would continue the current system of agricultural subsidies to large, profitable, agribusiness. Taxpayers’ hard earned dollars will be handed out needlessly in the billions. And subsidies will continue for corn and soy, which is then processed into junk food ingredients, like high fructose corn syrup, accelerating the obesity epidemic in America. 

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Blog Post | Higher Ed

Statement of Rich Williams, U.S. PIRG Higher Education Advocate, on the Congressional passage of legislation to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling:

"Congress listened to students and their families and delivered a bill that stops student loan interest rates from doubling," stated U.S. PIRG Higher Education Advocate Rich Williams. "Students already face unprecedented student loan debt and adding an additional $1,000 more would not only crunch individual borrowers, but would have further weighed down the recovering economy. We applaud Congress for coming together to pass this much-needed legislation."

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Blog Post | Democracy

Why Target is Still a Target

Two years ago, the public spoke out against the Supreme Court’s decision to allow unlimited corporate spending in politics when consumers boycotted Target Corporation for controversial political spending in Minnesota’s state elections. 

When Target’s CEO Gregg Steinhafel used general treasury funds, money that rightfully belongs to the corporation’s shareholders, to support a group backing a candidate known for his outspoken anti-LGBT positions, it was more than a blemish on the reputation of a corporation that brands itself as progressive. That irresponsible contribution was a violation of both shareholder and public trust and, not surprisingly, it resulted in scandal and boycotts that threatened the assets of shareholders who never authorized the use of their money for political spending.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Don’t Freeze our Public Health and Consumer Safety Protections | Jenny Levin

Last year, in the 175 days that the U.S. House of Representatives was in session it passed more than 190 anti-regulatory bills, putting profits over public safety. And they are still at it.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Testimony on Healthy Kids, Healthy Maryland Act | Jenny Levin

Maryland PIRG supports HB 727, requiring the Department of the Environment, in consultation with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, to publish on its Web site lists of specified chemicals of concern and specified chemicals of high concern designated in accordance with specified criteria.

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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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