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Blog Post | Public Health

What’s that toxic smell? One Father Clashes with the Chemical Industry | Anna Low-Beer

The movie Stink! originated with one pair of children’s pajamas that Director John Whelan bought his daughters for Christmas in 2011. The new pajamas, when taken out of their plastic packaging, smelled overwhelmingly of chemicals. That one smell prompted Whelan to look deeper into fragrance and the chemical industry’s use of secret and often toxic chemicals in our everyday products. He simply wanted to know – what’s in the stuff we buy? “It seemed like a common-sense question to ask…I’m just trying to find out what chemicals they would put on kids’ pajamas,” he said. A common-sense question, yes. One with a simple answer? Not so much. 

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Financial Reform

Privacy, Consumer Groups Critical of Facial Recognition Report

We've joined leading privacy and consumer advocates in a news release sharply critical of a supposed "best-practices" report released today by the Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) concerning privacy and facial recognition technology. While the report purports to be the product of a "multi-stakeholder" process, all the leading privacy and consumer stakeholders dropped out of the skewed proceedings many months ago, as the release explains. It concludes: "There is much more lacking in these “best practices,” but there is one good thing: this document helps to make the case for why we need to enact laws and regulations to protect our privacy."

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Video Blog | Consumer Protection

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: The retirement industry is a minefield -- but here’s the answer

In this week’s episode of “Last Week Tonight,” host John Oliver called out three main problems hurting consumers when it comes to retirement: First, financial advisers aren’t currently required to work in their clients’ best interest. Second, high fees compound over time. Third, actively managed investment funds aren’t the answer. 

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News Release | CALPIRG | Democracy

CALPIRG Statement on The Overturn Citizens United Act

We are thrilled that California voters will be able to go on record this fall and formally instruct our representatives to overturn Citizens United and get big money out of politics. 

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Blog Post | Democracy

What to watch this primary day | Sarah Friedman

Today, 166 congressional primary nominations will be up for grabs -- more than any other single day this year. Big money could play a deciding role.

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News Release | U.S.PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection, Make VW Pay

Leading Groups Send Criteria for Evaluating VW Settlement

Four leading consumer, environmental, and public health organizations wrote an open letter in advance of the April 21st deadline set by U.S. District Judge Charles R. Breyer for a proposal that deals with Volkswagen’s emission scandal.

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News Release | CALPIRG Education Fund | Tax

California Again Receives "F" in Annual Report on Transparency of Government Spending

"California fails to provide average citizens with comprehensive, easily searchable data on government contracts and spending ,” said Emily Rusch, Executive Director of CALPIRG Education Fund. “You shouldn’t have to be an expert to be able to follow your tax dollars through California’s government. Over the course of seven years, most states have made significant transparency improvements. Despite being home to Silicon Valley, California ranks last of all 50 states in this year's report.”

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

The Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule for Investment Advice

U.S. PIRG federal legislative director Jerry Slominski on The Release of the Department of Labor Fiduciary Rule for Investment Advice

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News Release | CALPIRG | Health Care

More than 1 Million Californians Subject to “Unreasonable” Health Insurance Rate Hikes

“Health insurance rate review is an important tool for transparency and accountability, but it needs to be strengthened,” said CALPIRG Executive Director Emily Rusch. “It is unacceptable that so many consumers get stuck with health insurance rate hikes that are unreasonable and unjustified.”

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Media Hit | Democracy

Los Angeles Times: Lawmakers act to shine light on California Coastal Commission, other key state boards

Widespread complaints that state commissions operate in the dark and are cozy with businesses had California lawmakers on Wednesday wrestling with a flurry of bills aimed at shedding light on the panels to regain public trust.

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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 | Democracy

The Cost of Running for US Senate in California

A comparison of fundraising practices for a U.S. Senate seat in California under current law and how fundraising could change if the Fair Elections Now Act became law.

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Report | CALPIRG | Democracy

The Money Chase: Moving from Big Donor Dominance in the 2014 Midterms to a Small Donor Democracy

Five years after the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision, what are the roles of large donors and average voters in selecting and supporting candidates for Congress? This report examines the role of money in the 2014 congressional elections from both quantitative and qualitative perspectives, and demonstrates how matching small political contributions with limited public funds can change the campaign landscape for grassroots candidates.

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Health Care

Health Insurance Rate Watch: Comments on the Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company Proposal

Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company has proposed increasing rates on April 1, 2015 for nearly170,000 people who obtain their health insurance through 28 grandfathered plans offered by Anthem. CALPIRG Education Fund's Health Insurance Rate Watch project reviewed Anthem’s filing documents and found that Anthem failed to provide adequate justification for its proposed rate increase. 

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Health Care

Health Insurance Rate Watch: Comments on Blue Shield Rate Filing

Blue Shield has proposed rate increases as high as 9.7 percent for policyholders in its “grandfathered” health insurance plans, those that were established before the Affordable Care Act was signed into law, affecting 40,070 Californians currently covered under the plans. CALPIRG Education Fund's Health Insurance Rate Watch project reviewed Blue Shield's rate filing and raised a number of questions and concerns to the California Department of Insurance. 

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Report | CALPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Trouble in Toyland 2014

Among the toys surveyed this year, we found numerous choking hazards and five toys with concentrations of toxics exceeding federal standards. In addition to reporting on potentially hazardous products found in stores in 2014, this installment of the report describes the potential hazards in toys and children’s products.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Public Interest Bills to Watch in Appropriations Committee this Week | Emily Rusch

On Friday the Appropriations Committee in both houses will be meeting to vote on pending legislation that affects state government finances. Here's a list of public interest bills to watch, all supported by CALPIRG. 

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Blog Post | Transportation

A World Without Carbon Pollution – Closer Than You Might Think | John Olivieri

For many, a world without carbon pollution seems like a distant utopia. To some, this even seems unobtainable. The size and scope of the challenge before us can be daunting, yet, there is good news -- a world without carbon pollution is closer than you think.

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Blog Post | Democracy

Happy Birthday, Bob Dylan: Three Democracy Lessons We Learned from an American IconOlivia LutwakVania Canales-Canales

As we celebrate Dylan's 75th birthday, here's what the music icon taught us about democracy.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

As CFPB Escalates Drive Toward Protections, Study Finds CFPB Enforcement Works | Ed Mierzwinski

This month the CFPB issued its proposed rule prohibiting class action bans in small-print mandatory arbitration clauses; in June it is expected to release its high-cost small dollar lending (payday and auto title loan) proposed rule. Meanwhile, as CFPB's industry opponents hide behind astroturf front groups and Congressional opponents use backdoor attacks, a law professor has released a major report finding that "from its inception [in 2011] through 2015 the agency had a 122-and-0 track record in its publicly announced enforcement actions" and that 93% (over $10.5 billion) of funds recovered for consumers have been for deceptive practices -- "[f]ar from a novel legal theory."

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Blog Post | Transportation

Why Is Our Infrastructure So Terrible? | Sean Doyle

America is facing a $1.4 trillion infrastructure funding crisis. This isn't some distant problem; it's already having a real effect on everyday Americans.

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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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