THIS WEEK: Congressional Summit on our democracy for sale, BP scorecard and the fight for commonsense regulations

Congress has just returned from recess and life here for your favorite watchdog continues to be busy!"Public Citizen Lady Liberty"

Last week, we reported on a victory for democracy: The Vermont State Senate approved a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that has ushered in a corporate political spending free-for-all, the negative effects of which we began seeing in the congressional midterms and we see now in the presidential race. The ball is now in the court of the Vermont House, but the clock is ticking. The House Government Operations Committee has yet to schedule a vote on the resolution — the first step in moving it through that chamber. The state’s legislative session ends next week. If you live in Vermont, please call your state representative and urge him or her to move this bill forward.

If the Vermont House passes the bill — and there is a lot of support for it among Vermont House members — Vermont would be the third state to call for an amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling. Public Citizen’s Democracy Is For People Campaign is playing an instrumental role in getting Vermont, California, Maryland and Massachusetts on board with calling for a constitutional amendment to help curb corporate power in elections.

We also are working with activists throughout the country to persuade local councils to support an amendment – and to do so the second week of June as part of, “Resolutions Week.” Resolutions Week and other efforts by other organizations — as well as congressional lawmakers — will be the focus of a congressional Summit on Capitol Hill this Wednesday (Facebook event invite link, here). Public Citizen is pleased to have had the opportunity to help facilitate and witness the growth of an ever-more powerful team of lawmakers, organizational allies and activists that are determined to make sure the voices of everyday people are not drowned out by mega-rich individuals and corporations. This summit is a signal: This movement is the real thing. We are determined. We are growing and together we will ensure that our democracy is for the people and by the people.

This week is also big one for Public Citizen’s Energy Program. Tomorrow, Tyson Slocum, Public Citizen’s Energy Program director will be a featured speaker at the Sierra Club’s symposium at the Capitol Vistor’s Center entitled: “Speculation, Subsidies, and the Real Cost of Gas.”  He will be speak about the role that price manipulators like Goldman Sachs and the Koch brothers play in increasing the cost of gas that consumers are paying at the pump. Slocum is the go-to expert on gas prices and financial speculation in energy commodity markets. Learn more about Public Citizen’s stance and why Tyson Slocum is the go-to guy for these topics by visiting this page.

Also this week, Slocum will be speaking at a workshop being put on by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Regulatory Assistance Project and the International Energy Agency. He will present Public Citizen’s views on ensuring energy efficiency programs are equitable and inclusive for American households. If implemented properly, energy efficiency programs can greatly decrease energy demand, reducing the need for new power plants and saving consumers money.  Investments in energy efficiency programs need to be verifiable and transparent, and the utilities delivering new programs need to be held accountable for the costs they want customers to pay and the benefits they promise to deliver.  Learn more about Public Citizen’s concerns with current smart technology proposals here.

Ahead of this Friday’s anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Public Citizen’s Energy Program Advocacy Director Allison Fisher will be putting out a scorecard. What kind of grade will the federal government get on implementing the reforms that the spill commission recommended? Two years later, are we any closer to preventing the next offshore disaster?

Public Citizen’s Health Research Group also will be releasing its recommendations on a dangerous drug that is linked to cancer and should not be on the market. Mum is the word for now on what drug that is but trust us, you’ll want to keep checking back here to get the latest on this!

On Friday and Saturday of this week, Public Citizen’s Peter Maybarduk will be a featured speaker and panelist at speak on a couple of panels at his law school alma mater’s conference on intellectual property and activism.  The Innovate / Activate conference at U.C. Berkeley is “about spurring change through the thoughtful consideration of IP.  It’s about reexamining our approaches to improving global welfare by diagnosing new and existing IP-related challenges to activism, developing strategies for overcoming IP obstacles, and delivering practical solutions. It’s about identifying additional tools for a more effective activism that is capable of challenging our accepted notions of freedom and equality.” One need only read the latest work of Maybarduk and his colleague Steven Knievel titled, “Next SOPA, going global?” to understand the significance of this event ahead of the Dallas Round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks to see why the work of Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines and Global Trade Watch programs is so critical.

Finally, Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert project will be continuing the campaign kicked off last week targeting the two-thirds of American hospitals that are in violation of the World Health Organization code, which forbids infant formula to be marketed at healthcare facilities. Public Citizen’s President Robert Weissman’s question and op-ed entitled, “Corporate profits or healthy babies?” is continuing to ruffle the feathers of formula makers like Nestle and Abbott Pharmaceutical who are feeling the heat of this unprecedented national initiative.

Is this all that is in store for Public Citizen this week? Only time will tell, but no matter what, our ears are to the ground and our energy is always focused on standing up for the interests of every day people in the Halls of Power. Corporations have lobbyists and you have us! We may not be rolling in the same kind of dough that bankrolls K Street lobbyists, but our experts and advocates pack a pretty mean punch, and the word “no” is not in our vocabulary!

Rachel Lewis is Public Citizen’s new media strategy and outreach coordinator. Follow her  @Citvox and @Public_Citizen to keep up with the latest happenings.