Monday, January 30, 2023

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Massachusetts could restrict police use of facial recognition technology, Wyoming mulls more health coverage for workers, and a report finds low salary contributes to social workers leaving the field.

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Civil rights activists push for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act following the killing of Tyre Nichols, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says he can reach a deal with President Biden on the debt ceiling, and election experts say 2023 could shape voting rights across the country.

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"Brain Gain?" Research shows rural population is actually growing, especially in recreational areas; other small towns are having success offering relocation incentives like free building lots, cash, complimentary dinners and even internet credits; and researchers say the key is flexibility and creativity.

Report: Electric Vehicles Jump in Popularity; Prices Leap, Too

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Friday, October 21, 2022   

Electric vehicles now make up almost 18% of the car-buying market in California. That's up 42% from 2021, according to the latest data from the California Energy Commission.

Right now, low-income buyers can get up to $9,500 in grants and rebates. But Rosemary Shahan, president of Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, said these rebates become meaningless when dealer markups are out of control.

"Some of them are charging $50,000, $60,000 or even more, over the manufacturer's suggested retail price, the sticker price," she said, "and we're concerned that whatever rebates people get can just be swallowed by the dealers."

Consumers can look online at markups.org to find out which dealers are selling cars at the MSRP, versus which ones are jacking up the prices. A recent study by iseeCars.com found the hybrid models with the biggest markups include the Ford Maverick truck and the Lexus RX 450h SUV.

Proposition 30 on California's November ballot would raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for more rebates on zero-emission vehicles, build more EV charging stations and fund wildfire prevention. But Shahan saif more rebates could motivate dealers to raise their prices even more, unless the California Air Resources Board moves to cap prices.

"If they want taxpayers to help fund those transactions, and assist low- and moderate-income consumers into getting into cars, to make them more affordable," she said, "they have to be more affordable."

Dave Clegern, a public affairs officer for the California Air Resources Board, said the agency expects EV prices to drop as the supply grows. Asked if the agency would consider price caps, he responded that it would have to "think carefully about the best consumer protection approach" if it became necessary to place a limitation on price above the manufacturer's suggested retail.

Disclosure: Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety Foundation contributes to our fund for reporting on Consumer Issues, Environmental Justice, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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