Back in June we noted that the FDA was about to get a lot more say over the tobacco industry if the Senate approved a new bill. Well they did, and so yesterday the FDA flexed its new muscles by banning fruit, herb, spice, and candy flavorings from cigarettes. That’s right: clove cigarettes were just banned by the FDA, which is bad news for gothy teens and great news for everyone else.
If Senator Barbara Boxer has her way, the Senate’s Federal Aviation Administration Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act will soon require airlines to “deplane passengers after three hours and would require [the airlines] to provide basic services such as food and water while they are waiting on planes.” The requirement is in the current version of the bill, and Boxer and another Democrat, Senator Amy Klobuchar, have threatened to filibuster it if the language is removed.
Remember Burr Oak this past summer? That was the Chicago cemetery that dug up bodies and resold the graves to new customers. Well, yesterday a U.S. Representative from Illinois introduced the Bereaved Consumers Protection Act, a bill that would standardize record-keeping, make cemeteries accountable to federal officials as well as state, and protect consumers from shady business practices.
New legislation proposed in Congress today would require the U.S. Department of Education to study the nutritional value of foods available in schools, as well as the forms of food marketing. Sponsored by Representatives Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and Todd Platt (R-PA), the National School Food Marketing Assessment Act has a large roster of supporters, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, National Parent Teacher Association, American Heart Association, and the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Sen. Chris Dodd plans to introduce legislation that would require banks to get permission before allowing fee-generating overdrafts. Banks are on track to earn $38.5 billion in overdraft fees this year and, according to a study by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, most banks offer the “service” automatically. Common “features” of the programs include not notifying customers when an overdraft is about to occur, not offering them a chance to cancel the transaction, and processing the transactions in ways designed to increase the number of fees.
Banks now make more on debit card overdraft fees than credit card penalties—they’ll rake in about $27 billion in 2009 alone, according to the New York Times. They obviously have zero incentive to curb the practice. In fact, one economist told the paper that “45 percent of the nation’s banks and credit unions collect more from overdraft services than they make in profits.”
Here’s a dart to deflate the feel-good dreams of universal health care — those nefarious, profiteering insurance companies are actually hoping it passes.
American Express and Discover will no longer bill customers who exceed their credit limits, according to company spokespeople. The creditors aren’t eliminating the fees because they care about their customers. No, they’re providing what American Banker calls “the first concrete examples of how a new law will restrict issuers’ abilities to turn a profit.” The new CARD Act that Congress passed in May requires consumers to opt-in before they can exceed their credit limits. Since overlimit fees, which can reach $39, aren’t very profitable for creditors, they decided to ditch the fees altogether.
Tomorrow, a Senate committee will hold a hearing on legislation that grants passengers the right to deplane if their plane is delayed on the runway for more than 3 hours. The legislation will also require that airlines provide water, food, and bathroom facilities during delays. If passed, it will be ignored by Delta.
Australian consumers will soon be able to challenge any bank fee that they consider “unreasonable,” thanks to a new law that could save consumers up to $1 billion. Banks that want to keep levying excessive fees for late payments and overdrafts will need to prove that the charges are reasonable by revealing the true processing costs behind the fee.
Shhh, everyone, gather near and listen to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner deliver the most beautiful, wonderful mandate we could give to a new federal agency: “The agency will have only one mission—to protect consumers.” And with that, the Treasury Department sent to Congress legislation that will create the brand new Consumer Financial Protection Agency.
H.R. 2870 would require all airlines to accept slightly larger carry-on bags, which is great if you actually abide by the published carry-on limits. If you don’t, well, get ready to change your scofflaw ways because the TSA will enforce the new limits, and even slightly oversized bags won’t make it past security checkpoints.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee just approved comprehensive food safety reform, setting it up for consideration on the House floor in the coming months. The Food Safety Enhancement Act was approved by voice vote, indicating bipartisan support and suggesting a relatively smooth passage through the entire House.
“Revolvers”—customers who keep a revolving balance on their credit cards—used to be the cash crop for credit card companies. But now more and more of them are turning into expensive charge-offs, and the new CARD act is going to make it harder to acquire those riskier customers anyway. As a result, card companies are beginning to look more closely at the customer who was most hated back in the credit-orgy years: the deadbeat.
As studies continue to link bisphenol-A (BPA) with all sorts of health problems, states and cities are banning the chemical from baby bottles and sippy cups and Congress is considering a ban in all food containers. This worries industry groups, who last week held a private meeting to devise strategy to protect the use of BPA. Someone sent the notes to the Washington Post.