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Blog Post | Public Health

5 tips for avoiding dangerous chemicals while cleaning your home or business | Juliana Bilowich

Did you know that most chemical substances have not been cleared for safety? Of the 80,000 chemicals on the market today, only 2% have been screened by the EPA. Substances like formaldehyde, phthalates, triclosan, and bisphenols have been linked to growing health concerns like cancers, learning disorders, and asthma. Shockingly, many of these chemicals are in products we use every day to clean our homes and businesses. The good news is that half of the stores surveyed in Baltimore sell a certified non-toxic cleaning product.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

You might not know this about overdraft fees | Kathryn Lee

Did your bank sell you on the idea that it’s embarrassing for you to have your debit card declined for a $3 cup of coffee, and that you should pay them $35 each time for “overdraft protection”? Those big fees are what’s embarrassing. Unless you say yes to allow fees, you cannot be charged for over-drafting your debit card.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Don’t Believe the Hype – Millennials’ Transportation Habits Are Changing | Sean Doyle

Despite news stories claiming that Millennials are buying up cars at record rates, the reality is quite different. After adjusting previous studies to account for differences in the size of the generations measured, on a per-capita basis, Millennials are 29 percent less likely than members of Generation X to own a car.

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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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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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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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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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