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  • House To Vote On Godzilla-Sized Rule Blocker, As Financial Committee Considers Smaller Rollbacks | NJPIRG
    to issue industry wide guidances a basic tool of regulators eliminated in this way H R 766 the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act of 2015 is yet another attempt to restrict the Department of Justice s Operation Choke Point or bank regulator efforts to prevent money laundering and payment system fraud Worse it uses a bludgeon approach by attacking the Financial Institutions Reform Recovery and Enforcement Act FIRREA a 25 year old law enacted after the late 1980s savings and loan law scandal most famously characterized by the Lincoln Savings and Loan CEO Charles Keating s targeting of the meek and ignorant for shoddy investments The bill before the House would amend FIRREA to eliminate penalties for and investigative authority into unlawful conduct affecting federally insured financial institutions Instead agencies could only penalize or investigate illegal conduct against a financial institution or by the institution against a third party In other words DOJ could not use FIRREA authority to look into signs that a bank is knowingly helping scammers to take money out of the accounts of seniors because the scammers are not targeting the bank and the bank is not targeting the senior Meanwhile over on the House floor The House will today or tomorrow take up the REINS Act Fortunately the President has promised a veto The Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny REINS Act HR 427 is not as cute as its name It more accurately should be called the Godzilla of all anti health and safety bills The REINS Act would require that both the House and Senate first approve any major agency regulation or it never takes effect The idea has been around for years but fortunately never gained any traction in the Senate Fortunately the White House has issued a Statement of Administration Policy containing a strong veto threat This radical departure from the longstanding separation of powers between the Executive and Legislative branches would delay and in many cases thwart implementation of statutory mandates and execution of duly enacted laws create business uncertainty undermine much needed protections of the American public and cause unnecessary confusion There is no justification for such an unprecedented requirement When a Federal agency promulgates a major rule it must already adhere to the particular requirements of the statute that it is implementing and to the constraints imposed by other Federal statutes and the Constitution Indeed in many cases the Congress has mandated that the agency issue the particular rule Proponents of REINS and a number of similar redundant bills being pushed by a coalition led by the Chamber of Commerce that alleges agencies are running amok and crippling businesses with red tape But as the presidential SAP continues In addition this Administration has already taken numerous steps to reduce regulatory costs and to ensure that all major regulations are designed to maximize net benefits to society Executive Order 13563 requires careful cost benefit analysis public participation harmonization of rulemaking across agencies flexible regulatory approaches and a

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/blogs/eds-blog/usp/house-vote-godzilla-sized-rule-blocker-financial-committee-considers-smaller (2016-04-29)
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  • NJPIRG | Standing Up To Powerful Interests
    are moving out of the phase in their life when they do the most commuting while driving averse Millennials move into that phase These demographic changes will likely keep driving down for decades according to the report A New Direction Our Changing Relationship with Driving and the Implications for America s Future Keep Reading Pages first previous 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 next last Report NJPIRG Law Policy Center Financial Reform Higher Ed The Campus Debit Card Trap Banks and other financial firms are taking advantage of a variety of opportunities to form partnerships with colleges and universities to produce campus student ID cards and to offer student aid disbursements on debit or prepaid cards Keep Reading Report NJPIRG Higher Ed The Cost of College Will Soar if Interest Rates Allowed To Double More than 7 million students and their families rely on Subsidized Stafford Loans to help pay for college The loans distributed by the U S Department of Education currently hold an interest rate of 3 4 percent But that rate is set to double if Congress fails to act by July 1 2012 If that occurs millions of students will see their interest rates soar to 6 8 percent on the new loans they take in the next year thereby causing a steep rise in their loan burden and effectively increasing the cost of attaining a college degree Keep Reading Report NJPIRG Tax Picking Up the Tab Some U S based multinational firms or individuals avoid paying U S taxes by transferring their earnings to tax haven countries with minimal or no taxes These tax haven users benefit from their access to America s markets workforce infrastructure and security but they pay little or nothing for it violating the basic fairness of the tax system and forcing other taxpayers to pick up the tab Keep Reading Report NJPIRG Law and Policy Center Transportation Transportation and the New Generation The United States is in the midst of the longest decline in driving since World War II with the greatest reduction in driving occurring among young people Transportation and the New Generation explores the reasons why young people are driving less and the implications for transportation policy in the United States Keep Reading Report NJPIRG Law and Policy Center Democracy Tax Loopholes for Sale Recent polls show a large majority of Americans including small business owners are convinced that profitable corporations are not paying enough in taxes Citizens for Tax Justice and NJPIRG s Loopholes for Sale pursues the intersection of corporate campaign contributions to members of Congress and the absence of Congressional action to close corporate tax loopholes and raise additional revenue from corporate taxes Keep Reading Pages first previous 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 next last Blog Post Democracy NJ Assembly Should Move Forward Resolution to Overturn Citizens United The Supreme Court s Citizens United ruling has allowed secretive groups to freely and unaccountably spend millions of dollars to

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/home?page=10 (2016-04-29)
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  • Community, Public Health, and Labor Leaders Urge Federal Agencies to Prevent Chemical Disasters at Newark Hearing | NJPIRG
    way to protect workers emergency responders and communities said Debra Coyle McFadden Assistant Director of NJ WEC Also released at the event were new maps of the New York New Jersey region that show the dangers high risk facilities in the Newark area pose to New Jersey s most vulnerable populations children Utilizing official EPA data the maps show the number of schools and students that lie within one mile of a high risk facility Children with developing immune systems are more susceptible to harmful chemical effects and those within vulnerability zones are at risk of illness injury or even death in the event of a toxic accident According to the Center for Effective Government who produced the maps based on facility reports of the 76 high risk facilities in NJ currently registered under the EPA s Risk Management Program 68 schools lie within one mile of a high risk chemical facility in NJ 34 641 students attend schools that would potentially be in danger in the event of a toxic release There are 12 schools within one mile of a high risk facility in the Jersey City area with up to 6 112 students at potential risk The Linden area which borders the Turnpike has 9 schools and 4 777 students within one mile of a high risk facility Chemical facilities in the Camden area including Paulsboro have 7 schools and 2 672 students at potential risk Trisha Sheehan a Woodbury NJ resident with Moms Clean Air Force for New Jersey lives just a few miles from Paulsboro NJ where in November 2012 a train derailed and spilled 30 000 pounds of toxic vinyl chloride into the community I m concerned about the health of my children said Sheehan I was told to shelter in place and not evacuate but my six year old complained of his throat burning and his eyes watered constantly The EPA should take action so my family and others aren t harmed by dangerous chemicals There are 10 high risk facilities in New Jersey that each put at least 100 000 residents within vulnerability zones for toxic exposure in the case of an accident or terrorist attack For example the Kuehne plant in Kearny NJ could place up to 12 million New Jersey and New York residents at risk if there were a spill or accident due to its use of chlorine gas Management of this facility says they are converting to a process that uses less chlorine but have not provided a schedule of when this work will be completed Del Vitale Sub District Director for USW District 4 in Edison NJ said The United Steelworkers strongly supports a move to safer chemicals and processes wherever feasible in order to protect workers and the surrounding communities We urge these federal agencies to update and strengthen regulations and policies to make this happen It is critical for EPA to develop comprehensive rules to make our chemical facilities safer The EPA needs to come up

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/news/njp/community-public-health-and-labor-leaders-urge-federal-agencies-prevent-chemical-disasters (2016-04-29)
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  • Report: Mistaken Identity Tops Debt Collection Complaints | NJPIRG
    to verify that debt was owed 15 percent or repeated phone calls 13 percent State and federal laws protect consumers from harassing phone calls from debt collectors The most complained about debt collection company in New Jersey is Pressler Pressler LLP Palisades Collection closely followed by Encore Capital Group Encore Capital Group received the most complaints nationwide New Jersey ranks 8th in complaints per 100 000 residents The top source of complaints nationwide was debt collectors trying to collect debt from the wrong person 25 percent of all complaints Nationally about 16 percent of responses received from debt collectors to complaints filed with the CFPB were deemed unsatisfactory by consumers and were subjected to further dispute Companies varied widely in how frequently they offered relief to complainants Allied Interstate LLC granted relief to over 97 percent of complainants while several companies never provided relief The report comes as the CFPB finishes collecting comments about debt collection in preparation for rulemaking in the industry The report recommended that the CFPB make the following improvements to debt collection rules including the following Require debt collectors to stringently verify that they are collecting accurately owed debts from the correct consumers before they start Clarify that the debt collection laws give consumers the right to sue to stop unfair practices and to collect multiple penalties for multiple violations Protect service members by strictly limiting contact with their commanders to verifications of employment and address Protect all consumers by mandating additional disclosures concerning the effect of paying debts on their credit reports such as a disclosure that Paying this debt will not remove it from your credit report The report also recommends that the CFPB move to make the database more user friendly analyze the data they receive regularly and use the information and analysis

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/news/njp/report-mistaken-identity-tops-debt-collection-complaints (2016-04-29)
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  • University Campuses Like Rutgers Are Transportation Trailblazers as Students Lead Shift From Driving | NJPIRG
    to and around campus University and college campuses are at the forefront of encouraging news ways to get around that don t depend on personal cars Public officials who want to stay ahead of the curve should be taking notes said Schuhardt The report describes how universities are improving their communities by providing a wider range of transportation choices This includes buses biking various types of vehicle sharing that makes it easier not to have a personal car and convenient apps that make it easier to navigate the options The report also documents how campuses seek to avoid the steep costs of building additional parking facilities Brian Wahler the Mayor of Piscataway Township added that his town is working hard to continue fostering the Complete Streets Program We want people to get safely to their destination whether they re walking biking or taking the bus Universities have a lot in common with cities said Schuhardt They must get the most value out of limited land they are acutely aware of problems associated with being overrun by cars and they need to focus on the tastes and aspirations of young people It s no wonder that universities are leaders in finding successful ways to make it easier for people to drive less You can download the report New Course How Innovative University Programs Are Reducing Driving on Campus and Creating New Models for Transportation Policy here The report is the sixth in a series of studies on the national shift away from driving The first report Transportation and the New Generation documents the dramatic decline of driving among Millennials The second A New Direction examines the causes of declining driving and the implications for future transportation policy The third Moving Off the Road documents state by state differences in declining driving

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/news/njp/university-campuses-rutgers-are-transportation-trailblazers-students-lead-shift-driving (2016-04-29)
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  • NJ could save nearly $60 million with simple, proven method to curb offshore tax dodging, new study finds | NJPIRG
    that they are taxed based on how much business activity they do in those places All told closing this tax haven loophole could save the remaining 22 states including the District of Columbia over a billion dollars annually Here in New Jersey the 59 8 million saved would be enough to pay the salaries of 1 243 additional school teachers based on average starting salaries in NJ or help plug the hole in badly needed transit infrastructure funding such as the Transportation Trust Fund Tax dodging is not a victimless offense When corporations skirt taxes the public has to make up the difference That means higher taxes for average taxpayers or cuts to public programs added Kim To ultimately put an end to offshore tax dodging which costs the federal Treasury 90 billion annually and state governments 20 billion annually federal action is required But Montana and Oregon have shown that states can do more than sit on their hands waiting for Congress to act The Montana experience Oregon s law which passed last year with strong bipartisan support will first take effect this year has shown that this reform is simple to implement and can play a real role in closing the state budget gap As of 2012 at least 82 of the top 100 publicly traded corporations in the U S used tax havens according to an earlier NJPIRG study American multinational companies collectively hold a staggering 1 9 trillion offshore Here are some increasingly notorious ways that some of America s largest corporations drastically shrink their tax bill Pfizer the world s largest drug maker made 40 percent of its sales in the U S over the past five years but thanks to their use of offshore tax loopholes they reported no taxable income in the U S during that time The company operates 172 subsidiaries in tax havens and has 73 billion parked offshore which remains untaxed by the U S according to its own SEC filing That is the second highest amount of money sitting offshore for a U S multinational corporation Google used accounting techniques nicknamed the double Irish and the Dutch sandwich according to Bloomberg News Using two Irish subsidiaries and one in Bermuda Google helped shrink its tax bill by 3 1 billion from 2008 to 2010 Citigroup a bank that was bailed out by taxpayers during the financial meltdown of 2008 maintains 20 subsidiaries in tax havens and has 42 6 billion sitting offshore on which it would otherwise owe 11 5 billion in taxes according to its own SEC filing Citigroup currently ranks eighth among U S multinationals for having the most money stashed offshore According to Dan Bucks the former chief of Montana Director of Revenue who administered the law for the state from 2005 to 2013 Montana s tax haven law brings a measure of tax justice to small businesses farmers and ranchers retirees and wage earners who already pay taxes on income they earn in Montana Without

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/news/njf/nj-could-save-nearly-60-million-simple-proven-method-curb-offshore-tax-dodging-new-study (2016-04-29)
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  • New Safety Recommendations a Good Step Forward | NJPIRG
    residents of Paulsboro NJ weren t so lucky when a train derailed and spilled enough vinyl chloride to evacuate the entire town and send 71 people to the hospital just over a year ago The NTSB recommendations to the Department of Transportation are a good first step in protecting the public but we also need stronger standards for toxic chemical transportation The reality is that the many oil and chemical facilities in New Jersey and the Philadelphia area pose a huge threat to public health and safety Trains and trucks transport tons of hazardous and toxic materials through our communities on a daily basis to and from oil refineries manufacturers and other chemical facilities A spill or accident in North Jersey could put over 12 million people at risk from exposure In Philadelphia the Trainer Refinery would threaten over 2 million if there was an incident there The President issued an Executive Order to improve the safety and security of chemical facilities The Department of Transportation should act quickly to heed recommendations for stronger rail cars and route planning that would avoid heavily populated areas NJPIRG is a statewide non partisan non profit consumer advocacy group For more information go to www njpirg org The NTSB recommendations can be found here http www ntsb gov news 2014 140123 html 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

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/news/njp/new-safety-recommendations-good-step-forward (2016-04-29)
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  • Top Twenty Pay-For-Delay Drugs | NJPIRG
    analysis of these 20 drugs impacted by pay for delay deals This practice has held back generic medicines used by patients with a wide range of serious or chronic conditions ranging from cancer and heart disease to depression and bacterial infection These payoffs have delayed generic drugs for five years on average and as long as nine years These brand name drugs cost10 times more than their generic equivalents on average and as much as 33 times more Combined these brand name drug companies have made an estimated 98 billion in total sales of these drugs while the generic versions were delayed Impact of Pay for Delay on Consumers While the specifics of pay for delay are only now beginning to be understood by the public the consequences of this price inflating practice are all too real for consumers and taxpayers The drug Provigil prescribed for sleep disorders and multiple sclerosis related fatigue offers a case study Experts expected a generic version of Provigil to go on the market in late 2005 but brand name manufacturer Cephalon paid more than 200 million to four different generic drug manufacturers who kept their generics off the market until 2012 2 In the meantime many patients had to pay up to 1 200 each month for the drug or manage without it In 2010 the FTC estimated that a pay for delay deal for a single drug could cost an individual consumer and their health plan an extra 4 590 over 17 months Extended over the average five year length of a pay for delay deal that amounts to 16 200 in wasteful spending per patient per drug due to pay for delay This not only forces consumers to pay higher premiums and out of pocket costs it also means that taxpayers foot

    Original URL path: http://njpirg.org/reports/njp/top-twenty-pay-delay-drugs (2016-04-29)
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