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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Our new "CFPB Can Help" video is live | Ed Mierzwinski

Please like and share our new video short (it's less than a minute) letting consumers know how the "CFPB can help." The CFPB, of course, is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, established as part of the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Public Health, Food

Taco Bell to Phase Out Chicken Raised on Routine Antibiotics; Students Host Event to Educate Peers

In a long-awaited victory for medically-important antibiotics, Taco Bell announced it will no longer serve chicken raised on human antibiotics in U.S. locations starting in 2017. Two Maryland PIRG interns this semester seized the opportunity to educate their peers on the dangers of antibiotic-overuse.

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Media Hit | Public Health

Cleaning up Maryland's air

 

How can we help the next generation breathe easier?

 

On time for this year's Air Quality Awareness Week, Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health published new research confirming what we already suspected: Exposure to even small amounts of pollution can lead to lifelong respiratory disorders.

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Blog Post | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Manufacturers report toxics in wide range of household products | Juliana Bilowich

A national report issued this week titled What Stinks? Toxic Phthalates in Your Home reveals that a group of toxic chemicals are used in a broader range of household products than previously known, including products by Hallmark Cards, The Gap, True Value, and more.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Reducing toxic pollution: Maryland proposes new off-gassing limits | Juliana Bilowich

 

Most of us think of ozone as a good thing – but that’s only partially true. Unlike the “good” ozone in the stratosphere that protects us, ground level or “bad” ozone is a colorless gas that forms just above the earth’s surface, where people, animals, and plants live and breathe.  Ground level ozone can cause airway inflammation even in healthy people and affects susceptible populations more.

 

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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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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice | Tax

Study: 70% of Fortune 500 Companies Used Tax Havens in 2013

Tax loopholes encouraged more than 70 percent of Fortune 500 companies – including Stanley Black & Decker in Maryland – to maintain subsidiaries in offshore tax havens as of 2013, according to “Offshore Shell Games,” released today by the Maryland PIRG Foundation and Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ). Collectively, the companies reported booking nearly $2 trillion offshore for tax purposes, with just 30 companies accounting for 62 percent of the total, or $1.2 trillion.

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News Release | Consumer Protection

Credit CARD Act Saves Consumers $12.6 Billion Annually

On May 22, the fifth anniversary of the Credit CARD Act of 2009, consumer advocates applaud the Act’s success in saving Americans billions of dollars in predatory and excessive fees. By one estimate, the CARD Act has saved consumers $12.6 billion annually in lower fees and interest charges; a recent report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau identifies nearly $4 billion annual savings in fees alone.

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Media Hit | Democracy

Money & Politics

How will recent campaign finance rulings by the Supreme Court and by the Maryland Board of Elections affect the governor’s race and other state campaigns? How do Maryland campaign finance laws compare to those of other states? Our guests: Andy Kroll, senior reporter for Mother Jones; Bruce Marcus, chair of the bipartisan state commission that looked at Maryland’s campaign finance structure; and Emily Scarr, director of Maryland’s Public Interest Research Group.

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Media Hit | Tax

Editorial: Improve online databases

“Big data” has become a catchphrase of our age, and Gov. Martin O’Malley is a professed believer in data-gathering and numbers-crunching as a tool in governing – hence, his much-heralded StateStat system. So it’s a little disappointing — if not surprising, given the usual bureaucratic resistance to change – that only modest steps have been taken to make this bonanza accessible to the taxpayers.

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Toxic Pollution and Health

Industries across the United States pump billions of pounds of toxic chemicals into our air, land, and water each year, many of which can cause cancer and other severe health effects. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program provides Americans with the best information about toxic chemicals released in their communities.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Democracy

The Wealth Primary

Despite the recent corruption scandals in Washington DC, the most significant problem with money in politics is that large contributions, which only a fraction of the American public can afford to make, unduly influence who runs for office and who wins elections in the United States.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Health Care

Paying the Price

Millions of uninsured and underinsured Americans struggle to afford the medicines they need, even forgoing medically necessary drugs when prices are out of reach.

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Transit Oriented Development

Maryland could strengthen its efforts to control sprawl and provide a high quality of life for the state's residents by encouraging more transit-oriented development near rail stations.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Transportation

Rail Transit Works

With Funding Areas, the Rural and Community Legacy Program, brownfield cleanup - Maryland has made a concerted effort to control sprawl. One tool that the state could make better use of is developing transportation alternatives.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

U.S. House Considers Delay To Financial Protections for Servicemembers, Veterans | Ed Mierzwinski

(UPDATED 30 April): Last year the Department of Defense proposed needed improvements to the 2007 Military Lending Act, since high-cost lenders were exploiting loopholes to evade the law's 36% APR cap on loans to servicemembers to make loans at 400% APR or more, harming military families and threatening unit preparedness to defend the nation. Now, days before a committee vote, predatory lenders have succeeded in convincing House Armed Services Committee leaders to insert language into the National Defense Authorization Act that would delay the DoD regulations up to a year while needless, redundant studies are prepared. Only in Washington.

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Blog Post | Safe Energy

Still a bad deal. | Emily Scarr

Feeling the pressure from communities across the state, Exelon has reached a settlement with some of the parties challenging its acquisition of Pepco. The Chicago-based mega-utility then asked Maryland regulators to approve the takeover, claiming that the settlement resolves all the contested issues in the proposal.

But despite the new deal, this merger is still bad for Maryland.

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Blog Post | Democracy

Campaign Update: Funding Fair Elections in Montgomery County | Emily Scarr

Last fall, the Montgomery County Council voted UNANIMOUSLY to establish a program to get big money out of local elections and empower small donors. Unfortunately, County Executive Leggett did not include funding for the program in the budget he released last month, so we're working to make sure the County Council fulfills their commitment to fund the program.

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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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Defend the CFPB

Tell your senators to oppose the “Financial CHOICE Act,” which would gut Wall Street reforms and destroy the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as we know it.

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