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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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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Budget

Governing in the Shadows

A review of 79 special districts’ online financial transparency shows that while a few districts are meeting the goals of “Transparency 2.0” – a standard of comprehensive, one-stop, oneclick budget accountability and accessibility – the vast majority do little to inform citizens about how they spend money.

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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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Tesoro Toll Road Extension Denied

In March 2015, CALPIRG won a big victory when the San Diego Water Board voted 6-0 to uphold a previous decision to deny the Foothill/Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency (TCA) a permit to build a 5.5-mile extension to their existing toll road, State Route 241. After reviewing transportation projects across America, CALPIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group selected TCA’s Tesoro Extension Project as one of 11 “highway boondoggles,” because of TCA’s poor financial track record on their previous toll roads.

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Result | Health Care

New Health Care Marketplace Opens

We helped win real reforms that led to the creation of a new California health care marketplace, Covered California. New health insurance options are now available to small businesses and individuals that could save consumers a lot of money. Consumers are able to make choices based not only on cost, and access to care, but the quality of that care.

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Result | Democracy

CALPIRG Helps Register 40,000 New Voters

In 2012, CALPIRG worked with college campuses across the state to ensure that both online and paper voter registration options were made available to students. Through our outreach, we helped to register more than 40,000 young Californians to vote.

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Result | Democracy

Legislature Passes Resolution Against Citizens United

More than 50,000 Californians, many of them CALPIRG members, joined our call to put our state on record in opposition to the Supreme Court ruling that opened the floodgates to a torrent of Super PAC-fueled campaign spending. The California Legislature passed our resolution — joining more than a dozen other states — calling for a constitutional amendment that would overturn the Citizens United decision.

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Result | Health Care

Pro-consumer Health Care Reform

CALPIRG’s advocacy helped ensure the health care law will bring down costs by setting up a competitive health insurance marketplace. In 2010, California became the first state in the country to begin setting up our state health insurance exchange.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Tax

Following the Money 2016

State governments spend hundreds of billions of dollars each year through contracts for goods and services, subsidies to encourage economic development, and other expenditures. Public accountability helps ensure that state funds are spent as wisely as possible. Our 7th annual "Following the Money" report found that California still lags behind every other state in providing accessible, searchable data to the public.

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Report | CALPIRG | Health Care

California Health Insurance Rate Review: the First Five Years

In this brief, CALPIRG examines the implementation of rate review in California, and the results it has achieved for consumers and small employers across the state. Our analysis includes posted rate filings that were scheduled to go into effect between January 1, 2011 and January 1, 2016.

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Report | CALPIRG

CALPIRG 2016 Legislative Priorities

As the California state legislature begins to consider new bills on myriad issues, CALPIRG lays out our policy priorities for 2016.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Transportation

Highway Boondoggles 2

The second in our series of reports on wasteful highway projects, Highway Boondoggles 2 looks at 12 highway projects across the country that reflect a particularly troublesome mix of skewed transportation priorities, minimal benefits to local communities, and in some cases a huge price tag to boot. Together, these projects are expected to cost at least $24 billion in taxpayer money, exhausting limited funds that could be better spent on repair and maintenance or put toward critical investment in transit, biking, and pedestrian options that better meet current and future needs.

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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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Blog Post | Health Care

PIRG applauds decisions blocking health insurance mega-mergers | Jesse Ellis O'Brien

This week, in a big win for consumers, a district court took action to block the proposed merger between health insurance giants Anthem and Cigna. This decision follows a ruling last month that blocked the proposed merger of two more of the nation’s biggest for-profit health insurers, Aetna and Humana. These decisions come after months of work by U.S. PIRG and a broad coalition of consumer and health care groups, urging close scrutiny of the mergers from state and federal regulators and raising questions and concerns about the potential impact of the mergers.

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Blog Post | Democracy

Call your representative and senators every day. Here's how. | Andre Delattre

There’s a lot unfolding in Washington, D.C., right now, and you may be wondering: “What can I do to voice my concerns?”

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

This week, CFPB Sues TCF Bank for overdraft schemes and loan servicer Navient for "failing" students | Ed Mierzwinski

Despite an escalation of threats to exterminate the Consumer FInancial Protection Bureau, CFPB continues to protect consumers well. This week it sued TCF Bank over deceptive overdraft marketing schemes and it sued Navient, the student loan servicer and Sallie Mae spinoff, for "failing" students at every step of the repayment process. The TCF complaint notes that its CEO brazenly named his boat "Overdraft."

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

CFPB Report Finds 1 In 4 Consumers Feel "Threatened" By Debt Collector Tactics | Ed Mierzwinski

We joined Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray and Washington, DC Attorney General Karl Racine for release of new CFPB data on debt collector abuses. Fully 1 in 4 consumers feel "threatened" by abusive, possibly illegal, debt collector tactics. The release also included an emphasis on problems with the "debt buyer" industry, comprised of firms that buy older, uncollected debt for as little as less than a penny on the dollar.

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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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DEFEND THE CFPB

Tell your representative 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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