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Winter 2018 News Briefs

Last updated: 2/14/2018

Toy Safety

Protecting Children From Dangerous Products

We need to protect our youngest consumers from unsafe toys. For more than 30 years, Maryland PIRG Foundation has worked hard to identify toys that threaten our children, call on manufacturers and regulators to take important actions, and inform parents and caregivers of the dangers that could be in their homes. 

Lead In Fidget Spinners 

Last fall, our researchers made a particularly alarming discovery when we tested fidget spinners for lead: We found two fidget spinners from Target that had up to 300 times the legal limit for lead in children’s products. 

We immediately called on Target to remove the toxic spinners from its website and stores, and spread the word through major media outlets, including CBS and The Washington Post. Within days of releasing our test results, Target removed the two fidget spinners from its shelves. 

Now, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Target and the manufacturer Bulls i Toy need to ensure that these two fidget spinners are fully recalled. 

32nd Annual Toy Report 

In November, Maryland PIRG Foundation released our 32nd annual Trouble In Toyland report, which found that stores nationwide are still offering dangerous toys and, in some cases, ignoring explicit government safety regulations in the process. 

In addition to exposing fidget spinners full of lead, the report found inadequately labeled toys and balloons that pose a choking hazard, and data-collecting toys that may violate children’s privacy and other consumer protection laws. We also provided a list of toys that have been recalled over the past year. 

“Our leaders and consumer watchdogs need to do more to protect our youngest consumers from the hazards of unsafe toys. No child should ever be injured, get sick or die from playing with a dangerous toy,” said Dev Gowda, toxics advocate with Maryland PIRG Foundation. 

Visit toysafetytips.org to read our full Trouble In Toyland report.

 

Toxics

Working To Ban Bee-Killing Pesticides

Bees are dying at unprecedented rates, with real consequences for our food supply, environment and economy. We rely on bees to pollinate $15 billion worth of crops every year — everything from almonds to strawberries to the alfalfa used to feed dairy cows.

That's why our national network launched its Ban Bee-Killing Pesticides campaign last fall, going door to door and email inbox to inbox to educate and engage our supporters to take action to save bees and our food supply.

By banning consumer use of neonicotinoid pesticides, or neonics, Maryland has already taken important action on this front. Now, with support from our members, our national network is calling on states across the country to ban neonics while we continue our work with the Smart on Pesticides Coalition here in Maryland.

If enough states take action, we will eliminate the use of more than 40 percent of insecticides used in this country, giving bees a better chance at survival. Furthermore, that kind of collective action will be a strong signal to large chemical companies and to the federal government that the public wants to limit the use of bee-killing pesticides.

 

Consumer Protection

Standing Up For Our Consumer Watchdog

Six years ago, Maryland PIRG helped create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to make sure banks and financial companies treat us fairly and play by the rules. Since then, the bureau has returned nearly $12 billion to ripped-off consumers. 

Yet President Trump and some in Congress are trying to strip away vital consumer protections, and even eliminate the Consumer Bureau. That’s why we knocked on more than 300,000 doors across the country last summer, mobilizing more than 60,000 citizens to sign our petition to Congress. 

In November, when Richard Cordray stepped down as director of the Consumer Bureau and the president named staunch CFPB opponent Mick Mulvaney as acting director, we doubled down on our efforts to ensure the agency stays strong and independent. With support from members like you, we’ll fight tooth and nail to ensure this important agency continues to thrive in the future. 

Get the latest from our campaign here

 

Democracy

Fair Elections Across Maryland

Elections should be determined by voters — not big money.

That's why Maryland PIRG is working with the Fair Elections Maryland coalition to build upon the success of Montgomery County's small donor matching program, which aims to amplify the voice of everyday voters in local elections.

Already, candidates for Montgomery County council and executive are lining up to use the new campaign finance system, which requires candidates to reject all contributions over $150 and all contributions from corporations in order to qualify for limited matching funds for small donations.

Montgomery and Howard County were the first Maryland communities to establish Fair Elections programs. Prince George's County is now looking to replicate this voter-centric system, and Maryland PIRG Director Emily Scarr expects more communities to follow suit.

"The program encourages more participation from the public; enables candidates to run for office based on the strength of their ideas, not access to money; and helps build a more accessible and accountable local government," Scarr said.

With enough local support, we can take the small-donor system to statewide offices and build a more accessible and accountable government for all Marylanders.

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