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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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Blog Post | Public Health

YES for SB200 - Ban on microbeads in personal care products | Emily Scarr

Please encourage your senator to vote YES on SB200 as passed by committee to ban microbeads in Maryland.

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Media Hit | Financial Reform

Credit Bureaus’ Deal to Improve Accuracy ‘Huge’ for Consumers

(Bloomberg) -- Buying homes, getting jobs and borrowing money will be easier after an agreement by the three biggest U.S. consumer credit reporting services with New York.[...] “It’s a sea change in the way the credit bureaus treat complaints,” said [U.S. PIRG's Ed] Mierzwinski. “The credit bureaus have been run by computers for years now. They’re going to have to hire more people and actually verify that what a creditor said is true.”

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Is Anyone Protecting Your Privacy Or Wallet? Turbotax? Anthem? Apple? The Government? | Ed Mierzwinski

As if recent privacy breaches at the online tax preparer Turbotax and the health insurer Anthem weren't enough, it turns out that low-tech hacks can trick the vaunted Apple Pay system into giving up cash to thieves, too. Meanwhile, while the administration's blueprint for a Privacy Bill of Rights in 2012 was excellent, its new legislative draft from the Department of Commerce could have been written by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. There is some good news on privacy, though.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Tax

Senator Coburn (R-OK) Slams Corporate Deductions of Legal Damages

Yesterday Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) published a guide to unjustified “giveaways” in the tax code. Included in the guide was a discussion and recommendation on the practice of corporations deducting the settlement payments they make in order to resolve accusations of wrongdoing against the public. He notes that the Department of Justice has the ability to render particular settlement payments nondeductible, but calls for legislation to disallow deductions for compensatory legal damages.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Financial Reform

Maryland PIRG Condemns Backdoor, Backroom Appropriations Proposal To Gut Wall Street Reform

"We join others, including Americans for Financial Reform and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (joint statement) and Public Citizen, in condemning this backdoor, backroom budgetary effort to repeal the Wall Street reform law's protections for taxpayers and Main Street from the riskiest derivatives swaps that led directly to the 2008 financial collapse, a taxpayer bailout for banks and a recession for everyone else.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Democracy

Supreme Court decision added $24.8 million in additional campaign spending by mega-donors

The Supreme Court’s most recent decision allowing more big money into our elections, April’s McCutcheon case, allowed $24.8 million in additional campaign spending by megadonors, according to new information released today by Maryland PIRG

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Public Health, Consumer Protection

Survey Finds Dangerous and Toxic Toys on Store Shelves

On Tuesday, December2nd, we're releasing Maryland PIRG’s 29h annual Trouble in Toyland report and list of dangerous toys. The report finds that despite improvements from recent product reforms, there are still dangerous toys on store shelves that pose a safety hazard. This year our report highlights potentially hazardous toys like toxic toys and choking hazards.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG and Demos | Democracy

Congressional Races Dominated by Big Money

In Maryland’s just-concluded congressional elections, bigger wallets gave mega-donors an outsized voice, according to new information released today by Maryland PIRG and Demos (report attached below).  The analysis found that in Maryland, candidates got 85 percent of their contributions from individuals from donors giving $200 or more – and nationally, 84% of individual contributions came from these larger donors.  Larger donors also played a central role in contributions to PACs, Super PACs, and party committees – when their fundraising is included with that of candidates, seven out of every ten dollars in individual contributions came from donors giving $200 or more.

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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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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Transportation

A New Way to Go

America is in the midst of a technological revolution … and a big shift in our transportation habits.

Over the last 15 years, the Internet and mobile communications technologies have transformed the way Americans live and work. During that same period, growth in vehicle travel slowed and then stopped, with Americans today driving about as much on average as we did in 1996.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

Big Banks, Big Complaints

This report is the first of several that will review complaints to the CFPB nationally and on a state-by-state basis. In this report we explore consumer complaints about bank accounts and services with the aim of uncovering patterns in the problems consumers are experiencing with their banks.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Transportation

Moving Off the Road

After sixty years of almost constant increases in the annual number of miles Americans drive, since 2004 Americans have decreased their driving per-capita for eight years in a row. Driving miles per person are down especially sharply among Millennials, America’s largest generation that will increasingly dominate national transportation trends. But some skeptics have suggested that the apparent end of the Driving Boom might be just a temporary hiccup in the trend toward more driving for Americans.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

We oppose merger between giants Comcast & Time Warner Cable | Ed Mierzwinski

We have joined the Consumer Federation of America in a petition to deny the merger of cable/Internet giants Comcast & Time Warner Cable.

 

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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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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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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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