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Blog Post | Public Health

Not-so-secret-Santas in Congress Using Spending Bill To Roll Back Health, Safety, Wallet Protections | Ed Mierzwinski

With spending authorization for the federal government set to end on December 11, Congressional leaders are working with powerful special interests on their not-so-Secret-Santa lists to use spending bills as vehicles to gut health, safety and wallet protections popular with the general public but not with Wall Street or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. They know they cannot win a fair fight. So they’re loading up the must-pass funding bill with so-called “riders,” which are unrelated policies that couldn’t get passed on their own. Everything we fought for in Wall Street reform, including the CFPB, is on the chopping block. So are many other PIRG health, safety, wallet and democracy priorities.

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30 years of toy safety

For the past thirty years, our sister organization U.S. PIRG Education Fund has taken a close look at the safety of toys sold in stores. Their reports have led to more than 150 regulatory actions. In November 2015, they released our 30th annual Trouble in Toyland report.

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Report | ConnPIRG Education Fund | Public Health

Touble In Toyland 2015

Dangerous or toxic toys can still be found on America’s store shelves, according ConnPIRG Education Fund’s 30th annual Trouble in Toyland report. The survey of potentially hazardous toys found that, despite recent progress, consumers must still be wary when shopping this holiday season.

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Blog Post | Transportation

Transportation policy is health policy | Sean Doyle

While transportation is often just thought of as how we get from point A to point B, the way we choose to do so can have important consequences on our physical health, air quality, safety, the development of our cities, and how we interact within them.

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News Release | ConnPIRG | Democracy

ConnPIRG Joins Lawmakers to Oppose Clean Elections Rollback

ConnPIRG called on Connecticut lawmakers to withdrawal proposals cutting funding for the state’s Citizens’ Election Program. Designed to combat the influence of big money in politics, the program provides public campaign funds to qualifying candidates who demonstrate broad support from small donors. ConnPIRG initiated a statewide effort to mobilize constituents against the proposed rollback.

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News Release | ConnPIRG | Budget

NEW FARM BILL CONTAINS MASSIVE TAXPAYER HANDOUTS TO BIG AG

ConnPIRG urges Congress to vote NO on the Farm Bill. At a time of supposed fiscal caution, this bill would put taxpayers on the hook for another five years of billion-dollar handouts to huge, profitable agribusinesses. Even the most modest reforms to trim subsidies for the largest players were stripped out or watered down at the last second by the chairs of the House and Senate Agricultural Committees.

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News Release | ConnPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Report: Citibank Most-Complained-About Credit Card Company in Connecticut

Connecticut consumers file more complaints about Citibank than any other credit card company, according to a report released today by ConnPIRG Education Fund. The report, which looked at data from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) public Consumer Complaints Database, also found that Connecticut consumers are 7th most likely to file credit card complaints,

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To Fill Budget Gap, Trash Authority Seeks Richer Subsidies

No state burns as much of its trash as Connecticut does. Every day, six trash-to-energy plants burn about 5,600 tons of refuse, at least two-thirds of everything thrown away.

 

But the largest player in this decades-old system has run into serious problems. The Connecticut Resources Recovery Authority faces a $10 million deficit in three years, driven by sales trends that are not expected to reverse any time soon, according to an audit of the quasi-public agency's operations.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Fairfield County Drivers Choosing Public Transit Over Driving

 

A new study published this week by the public-interest organization ConnPIRG finds that people across America's largest urbanized areas are driving much less than before, and Fairfield County is no different.

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Media Hit | Transportation

Connecticut Drivers Are Driving Less

Connecticut commuters are driving less and utilizing public transportation more, especially in the state’s urban areas.

 

That’s according to a report released Wednesday by the Connecticut Public Research Institute.

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Report | U.S. Public Interest Research Group and National Taxpayers Union | Budget

Toward Common Ground

To break through the ideological divide that has dominated Washington this past year and offer a pathway to address the nation’s fiscal problems, the National Taxpayers Union and ConnPIRG joined together to identify mutually acceptable deficit reduction measures. This report documents our findings.

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Report | Health Care

Building a Better Health Care Marketplace

The creation of a new health insurance exchange offers our state the chance to build a better marketplace for health care.  The exchange can help individuals and small businesses by increasing competition and improving choices in the state’s insurance market.  By providing better options and better information, and negotiating on behalf of its enrollees, the exchange can level the playing field for consumers.

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Report | Tax

Tax Shell Game: How Much Did Offshore Tax Havens Cost You in 2010?

Tax havens are countries with minimal or no taxes, to which U.S.-based multinational firms or individuals transfer their earnings to avoid paying taxes in the United States. Users of tax havens benefit from access to America’s markets, workforce, infrastructure and security, but pay little or nothing for it—violating the basic fairness of the tax system.

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Big Banks, Bigger Fees

Since Congress largely deregulated consumer deposit (checking and savings) accounts beginning in the early 1980s, the PIRGs have tracked bank deposit account fee changes and documented the banks’ long-term strategy to raise fees, invent new fees and make it harder to avoid fees. 

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Report | U.S. PIRG | Safe Energy

Unacceptable Risk: Two Decades of “Close Calls,” Leaks and Other Problems at U.S. Nuclear Reactors

American nuclear power plants are not immune to the types of natural disasters, mechanical failures, human errors, and losses of critical electric power supplies that have characterized major nuclear accidents such as the one at Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan. Indeed, at several points over the last 20 years, American nuclear power plants have experienced “close calls” that could have led to damage to the reactor core and the subsequent release of large amounts of radiation.

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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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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 | Consumer Protection

As House Holds Oversight Hearing, 340 Groups Call For Defense of CFPB | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray will present the CFPB's sixth semi-annual report to the House Financial Services Committee, whose majority members have been harsh critics of the successful consumer agency. Americans for Financial Reform, joined by the state PIRGs and a total of 340 national, state and local groups, sent Congress a letter explaining why the idea of the CFPB needs no defense, only more defenders.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Advice On Steps To Take After Anthem Data Breach | Evan Preston

Tips for consumers who may have been affected by the Anthem Data breach. Advice on how to protect your identity and prevent financial fraud. 

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

President Issues Privacy Platform | Ed Mierzwinski

Today the President announced support for a variety of privacy protections, most of which are laudable. However, it remains our view that Congressional consideration of a "uniform national breach notification standard" is unnecessary and, worse, will give powerful special interests an opportunity to use the proposal as a Trojan Horse to enact sweeping preemptive limits on state privacy protections.

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Priority Action

We're teaming up with big restaurant chains to stop the overuse of antibiotics on factory farms. Call on KFC to stop selling meat raised on routine antibiotics.

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