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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Democracy

Boosting the Impact of Small Donors

The vast majority of the funds raised for the 2016 election have come from wealthy donors making contributions exponentially larger than most Americans can afford, typically to super PACs and other organizations that can legally accept donations of any size. This report examines how the 2016 presidential race would be reshaped by a public financing system that amplifies the voices of small donors in our elections.

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Blog Post | Public Health

The Next Battle: E-Cigarettes | Emily Scarr

The fall of the tobacco industry is largely regarded as one of America's greatest public health success stories. But e-cigarettes, the cigarette's modern successors, are flourishing and being marketed as a healthy alternative.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Campaign Kickoff: Maryland Campaign to Keep Antibiotics Working | Emily Scarr

We had a great turn out for the Kick Off Meeting of our Campaign to Keep Antibiotics Working at the beautiful American Brewery Building in Baltimore.

Fifty people representing diverse stakeholders actively joined in the discussions: academics, doctors, nurses, business folks, environmental groups, public health organizations, unions, citizen groups, and many more.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

House holds stacked hearing to attack retirement savings rule proposal | Ed Mierzwinski

The House Financial Services Committee is holding a typically stacked hearing -- one consumer-side witness against four Wall Street-backed lobbyists  -- to attack the important retirement savings rule proposed by the Department of Labor. The rule simply requires retirement advisors to put the customer's needs  -- not their own compensation -- first.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Court Reinstates Case Against Bank That Aided Senior Citizen Fraud | Ed Mierzwinski

This week, the 3rd Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals overturned a lower court decision that had denied class action status to victims of a scheme targeting senior citizens who were suing Zions Bank and its payment processor affiliates for aiding the fraudsters. U.S. regulators led by the Department of Justice have been fighting this and similar schemes, yet powerful special interests have managed to create a false narrative in Washington, DC that has been picked up by opponents of consumer protection laws. They falsely claim that the government's target is "legitimate" payday lenders and gun dealers. Wrong, the target is financial crimes against consumers, many consumers.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Budget, Tax

Offshore Tax Havens Cost Average Maryland Taxpayer $1,065 a Year, Maryland Small Business $3,245

April 15, Baltimore – On Tax Day, it’s a good time to be reminded of where our tax dollars are going. Maryland PIRG  released its  annual study showing the average Maryland  taxpayer in 2012 would have to shoulder an extra $1,065 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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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Public Health

Much-Needed Legislation Would Protect Americans from Unsafe Chemicals

Led by Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), 29 senators today introduced the Safe Chemicals Act of 2013. Maryland Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin are original cosponsors of the legislation to provide long overdue fixes to the nation’s broken chemical policies and limit the use of unsafe chemicals linked to cancer and other illnesses.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Democracy

“A Huge Step Forward for Voter Participation”

The House of Delegates today gave final approval to SB 279, which would expand early voting and allow same day voter registration at early voting centers.  If the Senate concurs with the House amendments the bill will move to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG | Consumer Protection

Flame Retardant Ban Passes Maryland General Assembly

The Maryland Senate yesterday passed HB 99, which bans child care products for children under 3 containing the flame-retardant chemical TCEP. The chemical is one of several flame-retardants highly criticized by health advocates for their toxic effects in laboratory studies and persistence in the household environment. The bill is sponsored by Delegate James Hubbard from Prince Georges County. House bill 99 has now passed both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly and is on its way to Governor O’Malley’s desk.

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News Release | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Budget

New Report: Maryland Receives a “C” in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending

Maryland received a “C” when it comes to government spending transparency, according to “Following the Money 2013: How the States Rank on Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data,” the fourth annual report of its kind by the Maryland PIRG Foundation. 

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Blog Post | Budget, Food, Tax

Ending Subsidies for Big Ag in the Farm Bill | Michael Russo

Current food policy has disproportionately subsidized the largest agribusinesses, who are already profitable and don’t need taxpayer handouts. And subsidized crops have often been used to produce unhealthy food. The current scheme of agriculture subsidies, including the notorious Direct Payments program, is heavily skewed towards largest agribusinesses, with only 4% of U.S. farmers pocketing 74% of subsidy payments. Directing taxpayer dollars to these mature, profitable businesses enriches them and allows them to prosper at the expense of smaller, unsubsidized farmers, without any benefit to the taxpayers who are footing the bill. 

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Blog Post | Food, Tax

Maryland PIRG Advocate Jenny Levin on the Senate vote today to approve the 2012 Farm Bill: | Jenny Levin

Maryland PIRG is disappointed in the Senate’s approval of the 2012 Farm Bill, which will send tens of billions of taxpayer dollars to Big Ag. The Senate missed a golden opportunity to tackle the problem of wasteful agricultural subsidies, which have cost taxpayers $260 billion since 1995.  Instead, this bill recommits to taxpayer support for the largest agribusinesses. 

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Blog Post | Democracy

U.S. PIRG Democracy Advocate on summary reversal in American Tradition Partnership vs. Bullock

Today the Supreme Court passed on the opportunity to revisit its disastrous 2010 Citizens United decision—which is wreaking havoc on democracy—and it has done so in a way that avoids giving the American public a much deserved explanation.

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Blog Post | Food, Tax

Senate Farm Bill Moves to Floor | Jenny Levin

The Senate is moving to vote on the farm bill, S.3240, that would continue the current system of agricultural subsidies to large, profitable, agribusiness. Taxpayers’ hard earned dollars will be handed out needlessly in the billions. And subsidies will continue for corn and soy, which is then processed into junk food ingredients, like high fructose corn syrup, accelerating the obesity epidemic in America. 

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Blog Post | Higher Ed

Statement of Rich Williams, U.S. PIRG Higher Education Advocate, on the Congressional passage of legislation to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling:

"Congress listened to students and their families and delivered a bill that stops student loan interest rates from doubling," stated U.S. PIRG Higher Education Advocate Rich Williams. "Students already face unprecedented student loan debt and adding an additional $1,000 more would not only crunch individual borrowers, but would have further weighed down the recovering economy. We applaud Congress for coming together to pass this much-needed legislation."

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Priority Action

We're calling on big restaurant chains to stop the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms. Tell KFC to stop serving meat raised on routine antibiotics.

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