consumers

Randy Wick / Creative Commons

A bill that would gradually phase out single-use plastic and paper bags at supermarkets and grocery stores in Connecticut has passed out of the state Senate and is awaiting action in the House. 

A buyback of emissions-cheating cars was one solution Volkswagen offered in federal court Thursday, outlining an agreement between the carmaker and the Justice Department over hundreds of thousands of diesel vehicles that were sold in the U.S. despite not meeting pollution standards.

Car owners would be able to choose between having their vehicle fixed or accepting a buyback; financial details weren't revealed about the plan, which both the government and VW are calling an "agreement in principle."

Randy Wick / Creative Commons

A bill to phase out plastic bags at grocery stores is moving forward and it's got the support of one prominent garbage man. 

Dean Hochman / Creative Commons

Money set aside for energy-efficiency projects could soon get slashed as state legislators work to close a large budget deficit.

U.S. Cities Facing Issues Over Pension Packages

Apr 7, 2016
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Andy Uhler

A task force aimed at preventing Philadelphia from going bankrupt has urged the city’s mayor to figure out how to deal with its almost $6 billion pension deficit. Philadelphia hasn't been or isn't the only region in the country dealing with this issue, though. 

Detroit was the poster child of cities running out of money. In 2013, the city filed for bankruptcy after accumulating $18 billion of debt. The pension program was said to account for a sixth of that total.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader spent the better part of two decades dreaming up a museum with a highly specific, slightly bizarre theme: tort law. In late 2015, that dream became a reality with the opening of the American Museum of Tort Law in downtown Winsted, Connecticut. 

takacsi75 / Creative Commomns

A major group representing Connecticut doctors said it may support a bill limiting first-time opioid prescriptions if the final legislation allows prescribers some discretion. 

frankieleon / Creative Commons

Doctors in Connecticut may soon be limited to writing a seven-day prescription for opioid-based medication. It's part of an effort to curb drug overdose deaths in the state.

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear Samsung's appeal of a Federal Circuit Court ruling in the company's patent infringement dispute with Apple.

At issue in the case: What portion of the profits is a design-patent infringer liable to pay?

Apple accuses the South Korean tech giant of copying patented aspects of the iPhone's design, such as the round-cornered front face and the colorful icon grid.

Doctors have long disputed the accusation that the payments they receive from pharmaceutical companies have any relationship to how they prescribe drugs.

There's been little evidence to settle the matter, until now.

A ProPublica analysis has found that doctors who receive payments from the medical industry do indeed prescribe drugs differently on average than their colleagues who don't. And the more money they receive, the more brand-name medications they tend to prescribe.

Connecticut Senate Democrats / Creative Commons

The sponsor of a Maine bill designed to make it easier to label foods made with the use of genetically modified organisms says she'll push for a public vote.

We all know that American college education isn't cheap. But it turns out that it's even less cheap if you look at the numbers more closely.

That's what the Wisconsin HOPE Lab did. The lab, part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, conducted four studies to figure out the true price of college.

To get a sense of student realities, researchers interviewed students on college campuses across the state of Wisconsin. But they also examined 6,604 colleges nationally and compared their costs with regional cost-of-living data from the government.

photobunny / Creative Commons

Walgreens announced plans to install take-back kiosks for prescription drugs at pharmacies around the country and in Connecticut, but the state's Department of Consumer Protection said those kiosks aren't likely to appear here anytime soon. 

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

According to the CDC, health care providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for painkillers in 2012. That's enough for every American adult to have a bottle of pills at home. 

MilkADeal / Flickr

The Thighmaster, the Chop-O-Matic, the George Foreman Grill and the Clapper: Products which are all part of American consumer culture and which were all introduced through infomercials. But as online shopping increases and traditional television watching decreases, are we beginning to see the end of these high-energy, late-night shows?

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Take a look inside your cupboard or medicine cabinet and you're likely to find pills from prior visits to the doctor. 

The App Store's 'Middle Class' is Drying Up

Mar 4, 2016
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Tony Wagner

The market for mobile apps is (still) booming. Analytics firm AppAnnie predicts revenue will pass $100 billion by 2020, and Apple loves to tout the millions of developer jobs created by its iOS App Store. But a new report on the Verge shows how all that money is masking seismic shifts in the industry, and once-profitable app start-ups are tanking.

The U.S. economy gained 242,000 jobs in February while average wages dropped slightly, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report released Friday.

The unemployment rate held steady at 4.9 percent.

The report indicates stronger job growth than expected, and an improvement over the previous month. January's count of 151,000 new jobs — far lower than had been anticipated — was revised upward, to 172,000. And the job gains for December were also revised upward, from 262,000 to 271,000.

The U.S. Supreme Court dealt a blow Tuesday to nascent efforts to track the quality and cost of health care, ruling that a 1974 law precludes states from requiring that every health care claim involving their residents be submitted to a massive database.

The arguments were arcane, but the effect is clear: We're a long way off from having a true picture of the country's health care spending, especially differences in the way hospitals treat patients and doctors practice medicine.

The United States has the most advanced health care in the world. There are gleaming medical centers across the country where doctors cure cancers, transplant organs and bring people back from near death.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Say you’re a cash-strapped city, and scattered around town are houses where owners are behind on their property taxes.

A judge is poised to decide whether a lawsuit filed over the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 can continue. Lawyers for gun manufacturer Remington Arms are seeking a dismissal, saying the company is protected from such suits by federal law.

Despite gains in car safety, 2015 saw the largest percentage rise in motor vehicle deaths in the past 50 years, according to the National Safety Council. Cheaper gas and a stronger economy were likely key factors in the rise, the nonprofit group says.

Fuse / Thinkstock

Home sales finished the year strongly, with a 17.9 percent bump in sales in December of 2015. It marked the best December for the housing market in Connecticut since 2006.

Harriet Jones / WNPR

Plunging oil prices are proving to be a boon for about six million homeowners in the northeast who heat their homes with oil. And they may also lessen the appetite for conversion to other fuels -- a movement that had been gaining ground. 

West Hartford Walmart to Close Its Doors

Jan 15, 2016
Mike Mozart / Creative Commons

West Hartford's Walmart Neighborhood Market is among 153 stores the multinational retail corporation said it will be closing across the country. 

Ron Dauphin / Flickr Creative Commons

Customers of United Illuminating will soon be getting used to the Avangrid name at the top of their bills.

Chion Wolf

Connecticut's Department of Motor Vehicles will temporarily stop forwarding to police lists of motorists whose vehicle registrations have been suspended due to a lack of insurance. 

Robots were popular on the big screen this holiday season. The newly released film Star Wars: The Force Awakens brought us more of C-3PO, R2-D2 — those sweet and capable robots that have enchanted us for decades — and the debut of BB-8.

At this year's big consumer electronics show in Las Vegas, known as CES, there were more robots on display than ever. Some even looked like the Star Wars characters.

The most promising by appearance was Pepper. It has humanoid features — eyes, arms, a mouth. Pepper can even be a little self-conscious.

Volkswagen's use of a "defeat device" to fool U.S. regulators has resulted in a federal lawsuit against the company. Volkswagen has acknowledged that millions of its diesel cars worldwide relied on a ruse to skirt emissions controls.

The civil complaint was filed in federal court in Detroit, with the Department of Justice acting on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency — which says it hasn't yet reached an acceptable agreement with Volkswagen over how to handle a recall.

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