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March 6, 2013
Update on legislation:
HB 267 & 465 and SB 202 & 141


House Bill 267 to limit Georgia Power profits on cost overruns at Plant Vogtle


Thanks to all of you who contacted your legislators about this bill and attended hearings at the Capitol to show your support. The Utilities Subcommittee of Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications held a two-hour hearing and vote on HB 267 yesterday. While we are disappointed all but one committee member voted not to pass the bill out of committee, we are encouraged that the bill received two hearings, significant attention in the media and around the Capitol, and remains alive today. Several legislators have expressed interest in working with bill sponsor Rep. Jeff Chapman and Georgia Watch to move legislation through the next session to protect ratepayer interests.


Read more about yesterday's committee hearing and vote in the Atlanta Journal Constitution


House Bill 465 to regulate debt settlement practices


The House Banks and Banking Committee held a hearing and vote on HB 465 on Monday. All but two members voted against the bill. In testimony at the hearing, Georgia Watch raised concerns about provisions in the bill related to debt settlement services, a relatively new approach to debt elimination wherein a consumer is advised to default on his or her debts before attempting to settle them. We stated that debt settlement is a problematic business model that has unintended negative consequences for consumers and highlighted provisions that would allow unlimited fees for services.  We urged committee members to vote against the bill to allow time for more careful study of the legislation.


Senate Bills 141 and 202 to limit rights to trial by jury


The Senate Health Committee held hearings on both SB 141 and 202 on Monday and voted to table both bills for further study and consideration. If enacted, SB 141 would virtually eliminate the right of a Georgia resident to bring a cause of action in court against any provider for medical malpractice.   Georgia Watch provided 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. 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.