Summer 2018 News Briefs

Consumer Protection

Defending The Protections Americans Rely On

U.S. PIRG’s Ed Mierzwinski speaks to the need for stronger consumer protections after the Equifax data breach and congressional attacks on the Consumer Bureau. Photo: C-SPAN

After the 2008 economic crisis, millions of Americans lost their jobs, their homes, their retirement savings and more. That’s why our national network played a lead role in setting up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and helped put in place rules of the road to keep Wall Street in check.

But now, in the name of regulatory reform, Wall Street, big banks and their allies in Congress are working to strip away these rules and dismantle the Consumer Bureau. With the support of our members, U.S. PIRG is on the ground in Annapolis and Washington, D.C., keeping an eye on threats to commonsense consumer protections.

Opposing Anti-Consumer Attacks In Washington

We’ve been successful in stopping legislation that would change the funding and leadership structure of the Consumer Bureau, both of which are key to the agency’s past success and continued independence. And we’ve been hard at work opposing the anti-consumer moves of Mick Mulvaney, who has been limiting the Consumer Bureau’s capabilities since the president put him in charge of the agency last November.

Another major threat to consumers is S.2155, a bank deregulation bill that will likely increase mortgage fraud, racial discrimination and risky banking practices; replace stronger state laws against identity theft; and more.

With your support, our advocates fiercely opposed this legislation to let Equifax and big banks off the hook, and are calling on decision-makers at the state and national levels to instead enact reforms to give consumers more control over our financial lives.

Solutions To Problems We All Face

Whether it’s defending the original mission of the Consumer Bureau or opposing bills that ignore the painful lessons of the 2008 financial crisis, U.S. PIRG works to unite people from across the political spectrum around commonsense solutions to problems we all face.

But we couldn’t do any of this without the support of our members. With you by our side, we’ll continue defending consumers and working toward a safer, healthier, more secure future.



Empowering Small Donors

Small donor matching programs are gaining traction across the state. Photo: justgrimes via Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

A newly implemented political funding system is shifting power back to Maryland voters.

The Montgomery County Public Election Fund, a program that aims to amplify the voices of voters by matching contributions from small donors, is already showing that candidates for elected office are turning to everyday Marylanders to fund their election bids instead of mega-donors and corporations.

According to research by Maryland PIRG Foundation, candidates in the matching program have raised 58 percent more money from small donors. Even better, candidates receiving matching funds have raised 94 percent of their campaign funding from small donations—versus only 8 percent for those not participating in the program.

Small donor matching programs are gaining traction across the state. In January, a bill to establish a small donor program was introduced in Prince George’s County.



Maryland Modernizes The Vote

Thanks to work by Maryland PIRG, our supporters, and our coalition partners, our state has become a national leader in modernizing our democratic system with reforms like automatic voter registration. Here, students lobby for election modernization in Annapolis. Photo: Staff

In April, Marylanders across the state celebrated the Maryland General Assembly’s passage of the Secure and Accessible Registration Act, a bill to implement automatic voter registration (AVR) in Maryland.

In another victory for voting rights, the Assembly also passed a constitutional amendment to enable Election Day registration in Maryland, a measure that will be up for voter authorization on November’s ballot.

Maryland PIRG and the Everyone Votes Maryland coalition worked for years to pass these important reforms, building bipartisan support in the Assembly and rallying the public to call on our elected leaders to join states across the country in implementing these crucial voting modernization measures.

Together, AVR, early voting and Election Day registration will streamline the voter registration process by updating voter rolls when Marylanders interact with certain state agencies, including the Motor Vehicle Administration.

Under these new policies, voters will be registered at state agencies unless they opt out, modernizing our democratic system while making it more accessible, cost-efficient and secure.


Consumer Protection

Consumers Deserve More After Equifax

Photo: Shawn Hill via Shutterstock

When Equifax lost the critical financial data of nearly 148 million Americans last year, it was a startling reminder that we need a lot more control over our personal information.

Thanks to the advocacy of Maryland PIRG and the Office of the Attorney General, the Maryland General Assembly passed a new law that gives Marylanders free access to credit freezes, thaws and temporary lifts at all three credit agencies.

Freezing your credit at all three national credit bureaus, now a right under Maryland law, is the best action consumers can take to protect their financial data post-Equifax, whether they were affected by the breach or not.

With your support, Maryland PIRG will continue working to ensure you have the tools you need to protect yourself from identity thieves.