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  • USPIRG Commends Department of Labor's Rule On Conflicted Retirement Advice | NJPIRG
    their hard earned savings Unfortunately loopholes in the current rules allow these investment professionals to make recommendations that are not in the best interests of their clients Each year hardworking Americans lose as much as 17 billion when they receive advice to purchase investments with high fees low returns and excessive risks according to a White House Council of Economic Advisors report released today The Department of Labor s proposed rule would require investment professionals to act in the best interests of their clients American workers who work hard and play by the rules should be rewarded said Mario Salazar Legislative Director for U S PIRG Workers who spend their entire careers saving for their retirement should have the peace of mind that they are not being exploited by the financial professionals they hire to provide them with sound financial advice U S PIRG thanks the DOL for moving ahead to protect hardworking Americans saving for retirement Closing loopholes and requiring Wall Street to put consumers first makes sense concluded U S PIRG Consumer Program Director Ed Mierzwinski We are also excited that both the President and Senator Elizabeth Warren will be fighting Wall Street s attacks on the proposal as it moves through Office of Management and Budget OMB review to a public comment period U S PIRG the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups is a consumer group that stands up to powerful interests whenever they threaten our health and safety our financial security or our right to fully participate in our democratic society If you wish to stop receiving U S PIRG media announcements please reply to this email with stop in the subject line Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse Of Antibiotics Stop the Highway Boondoggles Democracy For The People Label GMO Foods

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/news/usp/uspirg-commends-department-labors-rule-conflicted-retirement-advice (2016-04-29)
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  • Big Money Playing an Outsized Role in New Jersey Elections | NJPIRG
    spending in the primaries is lower than in the general election The effect of this money primary is that it systematically disadvantages grassroots fueled candidates who appeal to ordinary voters but not to big donors The NJPIRG Law and Policy Center Demos analysis examined contributions in congressional primaries in all states except Louisiana which holds its primary on Election Day and compared fund raising from large donors contributions of 1 000 or more in at least one race and small donors who gave 200 or less Among its findings Just 383 large donors in New Jersey contributed as much as the at least 6 871 small donors combined in its congressional primaries ranking it 34 th out of 50 The state with the greatest inequity between small and large donors was Texas with a single large donors a self financed candidate exceeding all small contributions from a minimum of 8 767 small donors In terms of the percentage of primary funds coming from large donors New Jersey came in 25 th out of 50 at 66 the top slot was taken by Texas with 80 of primary contributions coming from large donors Indeed how candidates and parties collect money and how they spend it is all consuming for those engaged in running government in the Garden State Money wins elections and money gains power said former gubernatorial candidate Bill Schluter There are successful proven models to empower small donors so that their voices play a more central role in our democracy such as providing tax credits and public matching funds for small donations For example in New York City s 2013 city council campaigns small donors were responsible for 61 of participating candidates contributions when funds from a matching program are included In 2009 all but two of the 51

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/news/njf/big-money-playing-outsized-role-new-jersey-elections (2016-04-29)
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  • Some Good, Some Bad in Obama Executive Order on Protecting Antibiotics | NJPIRG
    the unsanitary disease laden conditions common on factory farms This widespread overuse however leads to the creation of drug resistant bacteria and these superbugs make their way off the farm and into the surrounding environment threatening public health across the country Experts around the globe from the World Health Organization to the CDC agree that steps to immediately and significantly reduce antibiotic use on factory farms are essential to curb the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria However the Executive Order issued today does not recommend such action Instead it orders the U S Food and Drug Administration and the U S Department of Agriculture continue to take steps to eliminate the use of medically important classes of antibiotics for growth promotion purposes in food producing animals The order does not ask the agencies to tackle the use of antibiotics for disease prevention in food producing animals As detailed in a recent report released by U S PIRG entitled Weak Medicine such an approach is unlikely to lead to a significant reduction in antibiotic overuse on animal farms Farmers already purchase a majority of antibiotics under FDA rules that allow them to feed drugs to their healthy livestock to prevent diseases rather than to treat existing infections And all classes of antibiotics that can be used to promote growth can also be used to prevent diseases Therefore these voluntary guidelines may do nothing more than simply require factory farms to claim that these drugs are being used for disease prevention rather than actually address their overuse The report also found that experience with similar rules in Europe shows stronger action is necessary to realize real reductions in antibiotics use in livestock production For more than 30 years European regulators took action similar to the FDA s recommendations yet antibiotic use in animals did not decline because farms increased the antibiotics fed to animals for disease prevention In 2011 the European Parliament adopted a resolution stating that the ban was insufficient to protect human health from the overuse of antibiotics Meanwhile both Denmark and the Netherlands took stronger actions than was required and have seen huge reductions in antibiotic use in animals We urge the administration to go further to limit the use of antibiotics to when animals are truly sick or directly exposed to illness said Jahagirdar The medical community consumers and even many in the food industry would likely stand and applaud such a move The Executive Order directs federal agencies to take several actions that will combat the accelerating spread of superbugs that are increasingly resistant to antibiotics and are more difficult expensive and sometimes impossible to treat These include Asking agencies to strengthen surveillance of antibiotic use and resistance patterns in food producing animals and inter species disease transmissibility Asking the U S Department of Health and Human Services to propose new actions as appropriate that require hospitals and other healthcare facilities to implement robust antibiotic stewardship programs These steps will greatly aid in assessing the extent of

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/news/usp/some-good-some-bad-obama-executive-order-protecting-antibiotics (2016-04-29)
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  • Closing the Billion Dollar Loophole | NJPIRG
    and Oregon Specifically states must Close the water s edge loophole by mandating that companies include their U S profits held in offshore tax havens when calculating taxes In many states companies calculate their tax liability based on their income held in subsidiaries incorporated within the water s edge that is within the United States By declaring a statutory list of tax havens states can tax corporate profits held in tax havens that lie past the water s edge Before closing the water s edge loophole states must adopt combined reporting which requires corporations to list the profits of all their subsidiaries on their tax forms Combined reporting provides states with a ready formula that can be applied to tax haven income to determine which portion should be taxable by the state To date 23 states and the District of Columbia have adopted combined reporting requirements but of these jurisdictions only Montana and Oregon have also closed the water s edge loophole by creating a statutory list of tax haven countries to be accounted for in corporate combined reports Montana is now collecting millions of dollars in additional tax revenue and Oregon is poised to do the same with its new law coming into force in 2014 Closing the water s edge loophole allowed Montana to collect 4 2 million in corporate taxes that would have otherwise gone uncollected in 2008 In 2010 the last year for which data are available closing the water s edge loophole allowed Montana to collect an additional 7 2 million After closing the water s edge loophole in 2013 Oregon s Legislative Revenue Office expects the state will collect 18 million in corporate taxes in the 2014 tax year that would have otherwise gone uncollected In the 2015 2017 biennium the Legislative Revenue Office expects the state will collect an additional 42 million Other states too should close the water s edge loophole In doing so they could collect millions in additional tax revenue to reduce the tax burden on other taxpayers or increase needed services In addition to Montana and Oregon twenty one states and the District of Columbia have combined reporting and could implement this reform If they had joined Montana and Oregon in closing the water s edge loophole they could have collected an additional billion dollars in combined revenues in 2012 note that this figure was calculated using 2012 data for all states except Massachusetts where an official state generated estimate for 2011 was used instead see Table ES 1 Closing the water s edge loophole would be a good start for states in reclaiming a portion of the state revenues lost to tax havens In 2011 offshore tax havens cost states an estimated total of 20 7 billion in corporate tax revenue California lost 3 3 billion to offshore tax havens the most lost by any state States that close the water s edge loophole could also put pressure on Congress to stop offshore tax haven abuse at the

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/reports/njp/closing-billion-dollar-loophole (2016-04-29)
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  • Credit Cards, Consumer Complaints | NJPIRG
    See Figure ES 3 Residents of Northeastern states are most likely to complain about their credit cards while consumers in the Midwest and South are least likely The District of Columbia had the most complaints per capita followed by Delaware Maryland New York New Jersey Florida Connecticut Massachusetts Virginia and Maine Figure ES 3 Capital One Is the Most Complained about Credit Card Company in 43 States Figure ES 4 Complaints about Credit Cards Vary by State The CFPB is making a significant difference for consumers facing difficulty with their credit card companies The CFPB has helped more than 7 300 consumers about three in 10 complainants to receive monetary compensation as a result of their credit card complaints See Figure ES 5 The median amount of monetary relief for consumers with credit card complaints through mid 2013 was 128 More than 2 000 additional consumers have had their complaints closed with some form of non monetary relief which includes actions such as altering account terms or fixing an incorrect submission of information to a credit bureau Figure ES 5 Nearly 40 Percent of Credit Card Customers Received Monetary or Non Monetary Relief After Complaining to the CFPB Credit card companies vary greatly in the degree to which they respond to consumer complaints with offers of monetary relief Nearly two out of every five complaints concerning GE Capital Retail resulted in monetary relief to the consumer while only about 20 percent of complaints concerning American Express did About 20 percent of responses from credit card companies were deemed unsatisfactory by consumers and were subjected to further dispute Of the 10 companies with the most overall complaints the company with the highest number of disputed responses was Capital One with 1 044 followed by Citibank and Bank of America See Table ES 1 These three credit card companies were also the three companies with the highest number of overall complaints Table ES 1 Companies Vary in the Degree to which Consumers Dispute their Responses to CFPB Complaints BEGIN TABLE AS TAB DELIMITED TEXT BOLD FIRST ROW BOLD LAST COLUMN Rank Company Disputed Complaints Percentage of Complaints Disputed 1 Capital One 1 044 20 2 Citibank 954 21 3 Bank of America 712 21 4 JPMorgan Chase 634 20 5 Amex 426 26 6 GE Capital Retail 283 14 7 Discover 213 18 8 Wells Fargo 208 20 9 Barclays 158 21 10 U S Bancorp 129 23 Of the 10 companies with the most overall complaints the company with the greatest proportion of disputed responses was American Express Amex with just over a quarter of responses disputed Of these same companies GE Capital Retail had the lowest proportion of disputed responses at 14 percent The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau s Consumer Complaint Database is a key resource for consumer protection To enhance the ability of the CFPB to respond to consumer complaints the CFPB should Add more detailed information to the database such as actual complaint narratives detailed complaint categories and

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/reports/njp/credit-cards-consumer-complaints (2016-04-29)
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  • Transportation in Transition | NJPIRG
    of an urbanized area and X s denote the location of excluded urbanized areas In addition vehicle miles traveled per capita in urbanized areas may have declined even more during this period than these estimates because of residents who have recently moved into exurbs outside the boundaries of urbanized areas but drive into the urbanized area Table ES 2 10 Urbanized Areas with Largest Declines in VMT per Capita The use of non driving modes of transportation has increased in a majority of the nation s most populous urbanized areas The proportion of residents bicycling to work increased in 85 out of 100 of America s largest urbanized areas between 2000 and 2007 2011 The number of passenger miles traveled PMT per capita on transit increased in 60 out of 98 of America s large urbanized areas whose trends could be analyzed between 2005 and 2010 3 Variations in the economy do not appear to be responsible for variations in the trends in driving among urbanized areas In fact the economies of urbanized areas with large declines in driving have been less affected by the recession according to unemployment and poverty indicators Between 2006 and 2011 the average increase in the unemployment rate in the 15 urbanized areas with the highest per capita declines in VMT was 3 9 percent while the average increase in all other urbanized areas was 4 6 percent Between 2006 and 2011 the average increase in the poverty rate of the 15 urbanized areas with the highest per capita declines in VMT was 2 7 percent while the average increase in all other urbanized areas was 3 6 percent The time has come for cities and states to shift their transportation priorities away from investments in expensive unnecessary new highways and toward the maintenance and repair of our existing infrastructure and the development of new transportation choices for Americans To that end public officials should Revisit transportation plans Many existing transportation plans continue to reflect outdated assumptions that the number of miles driven will continue to rise steadily over time Officials at all levels should revisit transportation plans to ensure that they reflect recent declines in driving and new understandings of the future demand for travel Reallocate resources With driving stagnating in many areas and demand for transit bicycling and pedestrian infrastructure increasing officials should reallocate resources away from wasteful highway expansion projects and toward system repair and programs that expand the range of transportation options available to Americans Remove barriers to non driving transportation options In many areas planning and zoning laws and transportation funding rules limit public officials ability to expand access to transportation choices Officials at all levels should remove these barriers and ensure access to funding for non driving forms of transportation Use innovative travel tools and services New technologies and techniques provide transportation officials with new tools to address transportation challenges Transportation agencies should encourage the use of carsharing bikesharing and ridesharing and provide real time travel information for public

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/reports/njp/transportation-transition (2016-04-29)
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  • Trouble in Toyland | NJPIRG
    children from unsafe products This report continues to help keep children particularly babies and toddlers safe as the majority of all injuries happen to children in the 0 2 age range The enactment of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act CPSIA of 2008 made great strides in toy safety and strengthened the ability of the Consumer Product Safety Commission CPSC to protect consumers including the littlest consumers children Although policymakers delayed implementation of its most stringent lead standard rules and enacted some narrow exceptions in 2011 on the whole the law has been protected from attempts to undermine it However we remain vigilant as a variety of regulatory threats to the CPSC s tools and authority remain under consideration by policymakers Parents should be vigilant this holiday season and remember The CPSC does not test all toys and not all toys on store shelves meet CPSC standards There is no comprehensive list of potentially hazardous toys Examine toys carefully for potential dangers before you make a purchase Shop with NJPIRG s Toy Safety Tips available at www ToySafetyTips org and on our website www njpirg org Parents should continue to be vigilant about metals in toys as they may contain lead or cadmium above the mandatory safety limits The Centers for Disease Control CDC recommends that all children be screened for exposure to lead A simple and inexpensive blood test can determine whether or not a child has a dangerous level of lead in his or her body The test can be obtained through a physician or public health agency Report unsafe toys or toy related injuries to the CPSC at www cpsc gov and www saferproducts gov or call the CPSC at 1 800 638 2772 Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse Of Antibiotics Stop the Highway

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/reports/njp/trouble-toyland (2016-04-29)
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  • McCutcheon Money | NJPIRG
    person may contribute to all federal candidates parties and PACs is 123 200 Absent this limit one wealthy donor would be permitted to contribute more than 3 5 million to a single party s candidates and party committees plus a virtually unlimited amount to supportive PACs We project that striking aggregate contribution limits would bring more than 1 billion in additional campaign contributions from elite donors through the 2020 election cycle Search form Search About Issues Stop the Overuse Of Antibiotics Stop the Highway Boondoggles Democracy For The People Label GMO Foods Making Health Care Work Protecting Consumers Toxic Free Communities Reining in Wall Street Act Now Jobs Donate Newsroom Resources Reports Get our RSS feed Our Affiliates Our Sister c 3 Are you a student Energy Service Corps Our Federation Archives Blog Media Hits News Releases Reports Resources Results Take Action Donate JOIN US 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 ADD YOUR VOICE Support Us Your donation supports NJPIRG s work to stand up for consumers on the issues that matter especially when powerful interests

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/reports/njf/mccutcheon-money (2016-04-29)
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