Support House Bill 267: Protect ratepayers from bearing the burden of cost overruns on Plant Vogtle
The Utilities Subcommittee of Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications has scheduled a hearing and vote on HB 267, which prevents Georgia Power from collecting their 11.15% profit from residential and small business ratepayers on cost overruns at Plant Vogtle. The hearing is scheduled for Monday, March 4, at 2:00pm in Room 515 of the Coverdale Legislative Office Building (515 CLOB).
The urgency of passing this bill is even more apparent today. Yesterday, Georgia Power formally filed a request with the Public Service Commission to go over its state-approved budget of $6.11 billion to $6.85 billion, a roughly $740 million increase that would be passed along to residential and small buisness ratepayers already footing the bill. Those Nuclear Construction Cost Recovery tariffs on monthly Georgia Power bills would keep going up and continue being collected for an additional 21 months! And incredibly, Georgia Power would continue earning their guaranteed profit of more than 11% on those cost overruns!
Action needed by Monday on HB 267:
Please call or email Chairman of the Energy Committee Don Parsons and members of the Utilities Subcommittee to share your opinion on HB 267.
Read more about yesterday's Georgia Power filing in the Atlanta Journal Constitution and AP. Watch Georgia Watch board member Clark Howard's testimony at last Tuesday's subcommittee hearing on the bill here and see WSB-TV coverage of that hearing here.
Oppose House Bill 465: Prevent abusive debt settlement practices
The House Banks and Banking Committee has scheduled a hearing and possible vote on HB 465 on Monday at 2:00pm in Room 506 CLOB. Georgia Watch is concerned HB 465 rewrites Georgia's debt adjustment statute to permit UNLIMITED debt settlement fees and higher fees for debt management. Consumers who are in debt and utilize such services often end up deeper in debt, in litigation with debtors, paying 25 - 35% of their debt on fees that line the pockets of the settlement agencies, and with their credit ruined. The unsettled debts grow through late fees and penalty interest rates, often wiping out any savings on the few debts the company manages to settle. Even the industry acknowledges that debt settlement schemes fail to work for two-thirds of clients, and government officials say the success rate is only around 10%. Debt settlement exploits the desperation of financially strained families, and typically leaves them worse off than they were when they started.
Oppose Senate Bills 141 and 202: Protect rights to a trial by jury
The Senate Health Committee has scheduled hearings on both SB 141 and 202 on Monday at 8:00am in Capitol Room 450 (450 CAP). SB 141 would significantly harm Georgia consumers by limiting access to the courts in cases of medical negligence. If enacted, the bill would virtually eliminate the right of a Georgia resident to bring a cause of action in court against any provider for medical malpractice. Instead of a constitutionally guaranteed trial by jury, the case would go before a three person panel whose decision as to whether "medical error" was committed could not be appealed! Georgia Watch will provide testimony against this bill on Monday. Read our position paper on the bill here.
SB 202 could deny Georgia's most vulnerable citizens, our parents and grandparents, their most basic constitutional rights with proposed wholesale changes to the adjudication of claims against nursing homes and the constitutional rights of Georgians who reside in long-term care facilities. This legislation is being fast-tracked in an apparent effort to clear it from the Senate before Crossover Day so that it could be approved this year. Read more about last Tuesday's hearing on SB 202 when Georgia Watch urged the committee to delay a vote and further consider harmful provisions in this bill here.