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Blog Post | COVID-19

Factory farms: A pandemic in the making. | Matt Wellington

The emergence and spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic is a symptom of how we raise food animals across the world. 

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Illinois Commerce Commission Settles Open Meetings Lawsuit

The Illinois Commerce Commission has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by Illinois PIRG Education Fund and GlidePath that alleged it deliberately excluded select consumer advocates and industry experts from participating in its NextGrid Study process, while allowing ComEd and Ameren to fund, shape, and approve a report designed to influence Illinois energy policy. 

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19

Illinois announces agreement with lenders to suspend student loan payments

A newly announced agreement will protect the finances of millions of Americans who owe money on student loans. 

Last month’s CARES Act put all federally held student loans into forbearance through September, ended collections and other actions against defaulted borrowers, and stopped the accrual of interest. However, these benefits were not extended to borrowers whose loans are held by private lenders. To protect those former students, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), along with counterparts from California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington worked with private lenders.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19

Statement: SBA data breach puts business owners at risk of ID theft and other fraud

The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced Tuesday that the personal information of nearly 8,000 business owners applying for federal disaster loans had been exposed. The breach affects applicants to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (EIDL), and may have included names, Social Security numbers, addresses, birth dates, email addresses, phone numbers, citizenship statuses and insurance information.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Tips, COVID-19

Consumer complaints of COVID-19 fraud surpass 15,000

Scammers and other bad actors are trying to take advantage of Americans’ heightened fears around the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and fraud complaints are soaring. Consumer complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) related to the virus surpassed 15,000 Thursday.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | COVID-19

Advocates Praise Governor Pritzker for Protecting Consumer Financial Security, Call for Further Action

Consumer advocates praised Governor Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation for timely actions, and called for further action to protect the financial security of Illinois residents as Illinois residents faced with lost jobs and decreased incomes grapple with first-of-the-month rent, mortgage, utility, car and other loan payments. 

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Illinois Attorney General demands online marketplaces end coronavirus price gouging

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul is calling on the country’s top online marketplaces to crack down on price gouging amidst the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Raoul joined a bipartisan group of 33 attorneys general, led by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro along with co-leading Attorneys General Hector Balderas (NM), William Tong (CT), and T.J. Donovan (VT), in sending a letter today urging the companies -- Amazon, Craigslist, eBay, Facebook and Walmart -- to quickly implement preventative measures on their platforms to ensure that consumers don’t get taken advantage of during this public health crisis.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Illinois Commerce Commission orders utility disconnection moratorium

Today, the Illinois Commerce Commission passed several emergency orders in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, including placing temporary moratoriums on utility disconnections as well as on in-person solicitations by alternative retail electric and gas suppliers.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Coronavirus worry triggers most surgical mask, sanitizer prices to spike at least 50% on Amazon

As the Coronvirus outbreak became more widespread, the price of most of the sanitizers and masks rose at least 50 percent higher than the 90-day average. Even one in six products sold directly by Amazon saw prices rise at least 50 percent higher in February

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News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Year-end report: Struggling Peoples Gas pipe program once again behind schedule, over budget 

Peoples Gas released its fourth quarter report Tuesday on its troubled pipe replacement program, which was the subject of a highly critical Illinois PIRG Education Fund report last June. Peoples Gas’ own data shows that for the eighth consecutive quarter --  a period that spans every quarterly report on the project -- the program is behind schedule and over budget. 

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Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Democracy

Big Money in Smaller Races, Part II

A second look at the influence of big money in state legislative primaries: campaign contribution analysis of 15 state House races.

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Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Budget

Following the Money in 2018

Illinois PIRG Education Fund researchers graded all 50 state’s transparency websites from “A” to “F” based on content and user-friendliness. This year, for the first time, focus groups were incorporated to see how well the ordinary Americans could navigate the sites. With that new standard, most states’ grades dropped from the previous "Following the Money" report released in 2016. This is Illinois PIRG Education Fund’s eighth annual ranking of states’ progress toward checkbook-level spending transparency.

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Report | Democracy

Big Money in Smaller Races

 

Campaign contribution analysis on March 2018 primary contests in Illinois state legislative races shows the impact that big money has in smaller races too.

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Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

In Your Face: makeup contaminated with asbestos

Illinois PIRG tested over a dozen makeup products that contained talc from a variety of stores and brands, including children’s and teen’s products as well as adult’s products, and found 3 products containing asbestos currently sold by Claire's retail company.

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Report | Illinois PIRG Education Fund | Public Health

In Your Face: makeup contaminated with asbestos

Illinois PIRG tested over a dozen makeup products that contained talc from a variety of stores and brands, including children’s and teen’s products as well as adult’s products, and found 3 products containing asbestos currently sold by Claire's retail company.

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Blog Post | Public Health

Toxic triclosan in toothpaste? | Dev Gowda

A recent article in the LA Times revealed that a new study found that the toxic compound triclosan, which is commonly found in toothpaste as well as other consumer products such as cosmetics, children’s toys, and yoga mats, “could cause adverse effects on colonic inflammation and colon cancer.”

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Blog Post | Public Health

Home remodeling shouldn’t be a deadly project: Toxic paint removers being sold by Lowe’s and other stores | Dev Gowda

No one should lose a loved one to deadly chemicals. But right now you can walk into Lowe’s and other stores and buy paint removers containing highly toxic chemicals.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Update on Troubled Peoples Gas Pipe Replacement Program | Abe Scarr

This morning, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) approved a settlement regarding 2014 spending on its troubled pipe replacement program. The settlement itself is a good outcome for ratepayers, but a far cry from the necessary reforms to the pipe replacement program itself.

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Blog Post | Democracy

Big Money Dominates in Race for Attorney General | Hannah Kim

As Illinois voters prepare to elect candidates for many top government offices in 2018, it is increasingly apparent that candidates must compete in a “money primary” in addition to regular primary elections.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Public Comment on the Peoples Gas Accelerated Main Replacement Program | Abe Scarr

I prepared a public comment before the Illinois Commerce Commission, opposing their plan to approve an increase in spending on the troubled Peoples Gas pipe replacement program. The Commission denied my request to make an oral comment. They did not give me a reason why.

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News Release | Illinois PIRG

With America as a whole continuing to struggle in containing the COVID-19 virus,  Illinois PIRG and Open Safe Illinois released a new fact sheet today calling on Illinois to maintain all current restrictions related to COVID-19, and consider additional measures to improve containment. 

Report | Illinois PIRG

COVID Exit Strategy, a nonpartisan group of public health and crisis experts, has been tracking the progress states have made towards meeting the CDC recommended benchmarks states should reach before reopening their economies. On Monday, June 29th, only three states were meeting these metrics, earning a “Green” rating – down from six a week earlier. Currently, Illinois is meeting half of the benchmarks, and is rated “Red” by COVID Exit Strategy due to a 2-week trend of rising case numbers, a metric the group gives particular weight.

News Release | Illinois PIRG

A new coalition of health, labor, aging and public interest organizations launched “Open Safe Illinois” on Thursday to amplify the voices of Illinois residents, the majority of whom support public health-driven decision making by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, the Illinois Department of Public Health, and local leaders.

Blog Post

Public health experts are starting to draw actionable lessons about the nature of how COVID-19 spreads. In addition to maintaining best practices –physical distancing, mask wearing and hand washing – it’s best to avoid extended, crowded indoor gatherings.

News Release | Illinois PIRG Education Fund

All four health regions established by Gov. JB Pritzker’s “Restore Illinois” plan entered Phase 3, “Recovery,” on Friday, while Chicago, which has more stringent standards set by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, is on track to do so next week. According to data compiled by ProPublica, Illinois is the first state to meet all five of the metrics the White House suggested should be required for a safe reopening.

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