CALPIRG Ban Roundup & CFPB Homepage 3.16.17

What's New

Blog Post | Financial Reform

Banks Cook Books To Promote Wrong Choice Act, Attack CFPB | Ed Mierzwinski

Today the House Financial Services Committee takes up the so-called Financial Choice Act, which we call the Wrong Choice Act, to repeal the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 and leave the CFPB an unrecognizable husk incapable of protecting consumers. Some 52 state bank associations urged support of the bill, based on a "cook-the-history-books" analysis of bank consolidation, which has not increased since 2010, even though they make the claim based on preposterous math.

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News Release | CALPIRG | Consumer Protection

Financial "Choice Act" is a Cruel "Choice" for California Consumers

Next Tuesday the House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (TX) will hold a mark-up on his so-called Financial Choice Act 2.0. “Californians were hit hard by the financial collapse and now depend on the consumer protections the financial Choice Act would eviscerate,” said Emily Rusch, Executive Director of CALPIRG. “We strongly urge Rep. Waters, Royce, Sherman, and Vargas to vote no.”  

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News Release | CALPIRG | Health Care

Bill to Set Limits on Rx Gifts to Doctors Has its First Vote

Today the Senate Health Committee will vote on CALPIRG-backed legislation by Senator Mike McGuire, SB 790, to rein in pharmaceutical company gifts to doctors. We believe this bill is an important complement to other efforts to increase transparency and accountability in the industry.  

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News Release | CALPIRG | Public Health

Childhood Lead Exposure Bills to Watch This Week in CA Legislature

This week the California Legislature is considering a set of bills dealing with children's exposure to lead. A recent Reuters story details how lead poisoning currently impacts children in hundreds of areas in Los Angeles County, from affluent neighborhoods to low-income areas. In a number of neighborhoods, more than 5% of children had elevated lead levels in their blood, a rate higher than that found in Flint, Michigan.

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News Release | CALPIRG Education Fund | Budget

New report finds California special districts lagging in spending transparency

A new report released by California Public Interest Research Group Education Fund found that special districts are failing to meet modern standards of spending transparency. The report looked at 79 special districts, including twelve in California, and graded them based on the accessibility of checkbook level spending data, budget information, and audited financial statements. 53 percent of all districts evaluated earned failing grades.

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News Release | CALPIRG | Public Health

5 San Diego Schools Test Positive for Unsafe Lead Levels in Water

San Diego, CA – The San Diego Unified School District released new drinking water test results for 15 elementary and middle schools in the district. The results show that 5 of the schools had at least one water outlet test positive for lead at 5 parts per billion or higher.

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News Release | CALPIRG | Consumer Protection

New report from leading consumer group shows millions are victims of aggressive tactics from medical debt collectors

The consumer group CALPIRG released the ninth in a series of reports that review complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).  The latest report explores consumer complaints about medical debt, a major source of problems for consumers, since medical debt items on credit reports are often wrong or about the wrong consumer.  The report also demonstrates the need to defend the CFPB from partisan and special interest attacks.

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News Release | CALPIRG | Public Health

Most California Schools Aren't Testing Water for Lead

In response to growing concerns about lead in school drinking water, the State Water Board launched a new initiative in January to offer schools free lead tests for their drinking water. Last week, the State Water Board released data showing that less than 5% of schools signed up for the free tests. In 38 counties, not a single school has requested a test.

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Media Hit | Public Health

Op-Ed in San Diego Union Tribune: California must do more to protect kids from lead exposure at schools

A recent string of reports have revealed lead-contaminated drinking water at several San Diego area elementary schools. Just last week, a therapy dog alerted school officials to tainted water in a charter school classroom. When dogs are sounding the alarm about lead-contaminated water, it’s pretty clear that more needs to be done in California to protect kids from this serious threat to their health.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health

VICTORY FOR PUBLIC HEALTH: MONSANTO DEFEATED IN CALIFORNIA ROUNDUP CASE

A district court judge last week dismissed Monsanto’s lawsuit against the California Environmental Protection Agency. Based on the ruling, consumers will soon be informed of the health risks of Roundup and other products containing glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup.

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Result | Health Care

Fighting To Make Health Care Affordable

Thanks to a new CALPIRG-backed law, insurance companies actually have to justify rate hikes to the public, bringing some much-needed accountability. Thanks in part to the new law — and public pressure, including 1,200 public comments from CALPIRG supporters — Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of California both backed off of double-digit rate hikes.

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Result | Budget

Keeping Public Libraries Public

To plug budget gaps, it seems that local governments will consider selling anything; some have even sold their public libraries. CALPIRG has stood up to and blocked a number of wrong-headed schemes to sell public assets to private companies — deals that all too often actually raise costs — including public libraries, state buildings and the privatization of red light camera enforcement.

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Result | Public Health

KIDS’ SCHOOL LUNCHES NOW SAFER

For years, America’s schoolchildren have been eating beef, chicken and other foods that would have been rejected as substandard even by fast food chains. Thanks in part to our advocacy, the U.S.D.A. has stopped buying such low-quality meat for school lunches.

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Result | Democracy

Defeating Big Oil’s Ballot Proposition

CALPIRG helped run a campaign that identified 160,000 young voters who pledged to vote No on Prop. 23, the oil industry-funded attack on California’s landmark global warming law. To combat the millions of dollars Texas oil companies Valero and Tesoro poured into electioneering, our organizers mobilized young voters — the segment of the electorate most likely to vote against Prop. 23, but most are in need of a reminder to get to the polls.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Tax

Settling for a Lack of Accountability?

When large companies harm the public through fraud, financial scams, chemical spills, dangerous products or other misdeeds, they almost never just pay a fine or penalty, as ordinary people would. Instead, these companies negotiate out-of-court settlements that resolve the charges in return for stipulated payments or promised remedies. These agreements, made on behalf of the American people, are not subject to any transparency standards and companies often write them off as tax deductions claimed as necessary and ordinary costs of doing business.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland

For 30 years, CALPIRG Education Fund has conducted an annual survey of toy safety, which has led to over 150 recalls and other regulatory actions over the years, and has helped educate the public and policymakers on the need for continued action to protect the health and wellbeing of children. Among the toys surveyed this year, we found potential choking and noise hazards, one toy that exceeded federal toxic standards, and three toys that preliminary testing showed may exceed federal toxic standards.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund

Why You Should Get Security Freezes Before Your Information is Stolen

Credit monitoring and other services that are usually offered to data breach victims and other concerned consumers do nothing to prevent identity theft; they only detect certain types of fraud after it has occurred. This report aims to increase the awareness and use of the security freeze, also known as a credit freeze. The report explains that the freeze is the only security measure that can prevent new account identity theft.

 

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund and Citizens for Tax Justice | Tax

Offshore Shell Games 2015

U.S.-based multinational corporations are allowed to play by a different set of rules than small and domestic businesses or individuals when it comes to the tax code. Rather than paying their full share, many multinational corporations use accounting tricks to pretend for tax purposes that a substantial portion of their profits are generated in offshore tax havens, countries with minimal or no taxes where a company’s presence may be as little as a mailbox. Multinational corporations’ use of tax havens allows them to avoid an estimated $90 billion in federal income taxes each year.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

CarMax’s Sales Practices Endanger Lives in California

This report finds that CarMax, the nation’s largest retailer of used cars, is selling many unsafe, unrepaired, recalled vehicles in California that are hazardous not only to the people who buy CarMax cars, but also to their families, other motorists, bike riders, and pedestrians.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

CFPB Slams Two Credit Bureaus For Deceptive Marketing, Expect Experian Next | Ed Mierzwinski

This week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau nailed two "big 3" credit bureaus --Trans Union and Equifax -- for deceptive marketing of their over-priced, under-performing credit monitoring subscription products.  Combined fines and consumer restitution total $23 million. I predict that the CFPB will also bring a case against the remaining bureau, Experian, and that it will pay much more, because Experian really has led the way in aggressively marketing these tawdry products. They don't prevent identity theft, nor do they always accurately disclose your credit score, at fees of up to $16.95/month or more. Yikes!

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

This New Year, Celebrate the CFPB | Ed Mierzwinski

This month, we published our 8th report based on analyzing consumer complaints collected in the CFPB's Public Consumer Complaint Database. The release of "Big Banks, Big Overdraft Fees" provides a good year-end opportunity to summarize a few of the reasons to be thankful for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which took over in July 2011 as the first federal regulator with just one job: protecting consumers from unfair financial practices. The idea of the CFPB needs no defense, only more defenders.

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Blog Post | Antibiotics

Another (yes, another) reason to stop overusing antibiotics | Matthew Wellington

Researchers from The Ohio State University published a report today about the discovery of E-coli bacteria resistant to the antibiotic carbapenem in an Ohio swine facility. Uh oh.

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Blog Post

California Election Results | Emily Rusch

So far the results are promising on every single one of the measures CALPIRG backed this election cycle, including state and local efforts to reduce pollution, expand transit options, increase transparency in government, and reduce the influence of big money in politics. 

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Addicted to Hand Sanitizer: A Wells Fargo Scandal Update | Ed Mierzwinski

More questions continue to be raised about the Wells Fargo scandal. When did it really start- 2013, 2011 or 2005? What did execs know and when did they know it? How many frontline employees were fired because they complained as whistleblowers? Does setting up a fake account constitute criminal identity theft? Should deposed chairman and CEO John Stumpf go to jail? If the culture was pure, how did a frontline worker get "addicted to (drinking) hand sanitizer? Should he pay back more bonus compensation? Here's a flyaround of some of what's going on. By the way, did you know that even the Better Business Bureau has thrown Wells out?

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DEFEND THE CFPB

Tell your senators to oppose the “Financial CHOICE Act,” which would gut Wall Street reforms and destroy the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as we know it.

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