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Blog Post | Public Health

Federal toxic substance reform threatens Maryland’s chemical protections | Juliana Bilowich

 

We need sensible toxic chemical reform.

The TSCA Modernization Act, which passed both congressional chambers last year but has yet to become law, makes important updates to the way the EPA restricts toxic chemicals. Unfortunately, the new law could also preclude states from taking action on their own to enact chemical protections.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Breaking the Silence on Transportation and the Climate

Transportation policy-makers in most states and at the federal level have simply never seen it as their business to consider, much less act to reduce, the climate impacts of their infrastructure investment decisions. The Obama administration’s actions last week, however tentative, suggest that that is about to change.

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Blog Post | Transportation

All Americans Deserve Clean Air to Breathe, On Earth Day and Every Day | Sean Doyle

U.S. DOT asks if we should measure global warming pollution from transportation.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

Framework for VW Settlement Announced

“Seven months after news of Volkswagen’s emission scandal broke, we're glad to hear that there is a 'framework' for a settlement in the cases related to VW's 567,000 fraudulently marketed, illegally polluting cars. This framework appears to include all of the elements that a deal should include, but the devil will be in the details. 

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News Release | U.S.PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection, Make VW Pay, Transportation

Framework for VW Settlement Announced

Statement by Mike Litt, Consumer Program Advocate at U.S. PIRG Education Fund, on todays announced VW settlement. For more details on what a strong settlement agreement ought to look like, please see the open letter that we released earlier this week with other consumer and environmental groups.

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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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Media Hit | Tax

Slightly Brighter Sunlight

Maryland is gradually improving its scoring when it comes to being transparent to the public, having moved from a C to a B- in a recently released report card from the Maryland PIRG Foundation.

That grade could get better: Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law this week legislation that may shine a little more light into the dark and dusty corners of state spending.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Tax

Poll: Public Wants Federal Agencies to Disclose and Restrict Corporate Tax Write Offs for Out-of-Court Settlements

A new poll shows that Americans want federal agencies to better disclose information about out-of-court settlements with corporations and to restrict companies from writing off these payments as tax deductions.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Tax

Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Maryland Taxpayer $1,259 a Year, MD Small Business $4,118

As hardworking Americans file their taxes today, it’s a good time to be reminded of how ordinary taxpayers pick up the tab for the loopholes in our tax laws. Maryland PIRG released a new study which revealed that the average Maryland taxpayer in 2013 would have to shoulder an extra $1,259 in taxes to make up for the revenue lost due to the use of offshore tax havens by corporations and wealthy individuals.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Safe Energy

Energy Saved, Dollars Earned

Maryland is at an energy crossroads -- facing a crisis, but also an opportunity. The fastest, cheapest and cleanest way to address this crisis is to turn what is now wasted energy into a useful resource to power our homes, offices and factories.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection

Mixed Signals

One year from now 22 million Americans who rely on free over-the-air analog broadcasting will be at risk of losing access to TV. On February 17, 2009, analog televisions that receive over-the-air signals will go dark, unless they are retrofitted with digital converter boxes.

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Baby's Toxic Bottle

Bisphenol A, a hormone-disrupting chemical that is the building block of polycarbonate plastic, has been found to leach out of six major brands of popular baby bottles sold in the United States and Canada.

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Report | Maryland PIRG | Democracy

Honest Enforcement

Some argue that last year’s scandals, which led to the conviction of two congressmen and several top aides, are evidence that ethics enforcement in Congress works. The actual facts leading up to the convictions, however, are more an indictment of the current process than a testament to its success.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Budget, Democracy, Financial Reform

Forgiving Fraud and Failure

Companies with immediate past histories of shoddy work and fraudulent practices are being rewarded with billions of dollars in federal contracts. The data suggest that the process by which the federal government currently spends $422 billion per year in taxpayer funds is insufficient to ensure that the American people receive good quality for goods and services purchased for the American people.

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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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Blog Post | Public Health, Food

Like dominoes | Emily Scarr

The dominoes are falling. Last Monday, Pilgrim’s Pride joined Tyson, the poultry industry leader, and (Maryland's own) Perdue, to commit to reducing the use of antibiotcis to raise their chickens. Pilgrim's Pride committeed to raise 25 percent of its birds without antibiotics by the end of 2018. Pilgrim’s is the second-largest U.S. chicken producer. Their move marks what The Wall St Journal called “one of the most aggressive timetables for reducing antibiotics use laid out by a U.S. poultry company.”

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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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