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Blog Post | Public Health

Nicely Done, Attorneys General | Steve Blackledge

This month 12 state attorneys general highlighted the importance of state power to regulate toxic chemicals. We thank them for their efforts. 

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Blog Post | Public Health

Lobby Day: Maryland Campaign to Keep Antibiotics Working | Emily Scarr

On January 20th, the Maryland Campaign to Keep Antibiotics Working headed to Annapolis to build support for our campaign to stop the overuse of antibiotocs on industrial farms.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Debating trade and consumer protection in Brussels today | Ed Mierzwinski

I am in Brussels today debating consumer protection and the proposed US-European trade treaty known as the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP. Today's public event, and a second public meeting tomorrow (Wednesday with live webstream 9am-noon DC time) comparing the CFPB to its European counterparts, are sponsored by the PIRG-backed TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue.

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Blog Post

2016 Legislative Agenda | Emily Scarr

The Maryland General Assembly is kicking off its 2016 session. Here are our priorities.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Make VW Pay

House Tees Up VW Bailout and Other Attacks on Public Protections, Consumer Rights | Ed Mierzwinski

(Updated 8 January to add vote results): You've probably heard that the House is soon planning to again repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). That bill will certainly be vetoed. But the House has other anti-consumer, anti-environmental bills scheduled for floor action this week and next. The bills take aim at agency health, financial and safety regulations and also consumer rights to band together as a class to take their grievances against corporate wrongdoers to court. That last bill would immunize Volkswagen from having to compensate VW Diesel owners for being deceptively sold cars designed to "defeat" air pollution requirements.

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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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Report | Maryland PIRG | Health Care

The $3 Trillion Question

Without health care reform, the United States is projected to spend over $40 trillion on health care in the next decade.  Experts estimate that thirty percent of that spending – up to $12 trillion dollars – will be wasted on ineffective care, pointless red tape, and counterproductive treatments that can actually harm patients. 

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Report | Good Jobs First | Budget

Show Us the Stimulus

Every state government now has a website reporting on its role in implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the $787 billion federal stimulus bill that is shoring up state finances, reinforcing the social safety net and funding job‐creating infrastructure and energy‐efficiency projects. Yet there are wide differences in the quality and quantity of the information the websites offer.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Health Care

The Small Business Dilemma

When it comes to health care, American small business owners are getting a raw deal. While the current insurance marketplace offers some options to larger employers, it too often leaves small business owners on the outside looking in.

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Report | Health Care

The Facts About Comparative Effectiveness Research

As Congressional and public debate over health care reform grows more intense, comparative effectiveness research (CER) has emerged as an unlikely flashpoint of controversy.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Safe Energy

The High Cost of Nuclear Power

Encouraged by growing demand for electricity and generous subsidies in the 2005 federal Energy Policy Act, Constellation Energy has proposed constructing a 1,600 MWe nuclear reactor next to the two reactors operating at Calvert Cliffs. The new plant—larger than any existing nuclear reactor in the U.S.—would not be completed until well into the next decade, and would be licensed to operate for 40 years. Its operation would not be a benefit to Maryland. Nuclear power is an expensive energy source at every stage, from plant construction to waste disposal and decommissioning.

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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

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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