The Watcher
  News from Georgia Watch
January 2018
The 2018 Legislative Session of the Georgia General Assembly is underway. Today is day 9 of the 40-day session and Georgia Watch is active at the Capitol looking out for Georgia consumers! 

Download our  2018 Policy Priorities and keep up-to-date on all the bills we're following on our  Take Action page.

Please be on the lookout for action alerts from us throughout the session as we call on you to contact your legislators to amplify consumer concerns on the issues that matter most to you.

Sincerely,
Liz Coyle,
Executive Director
Sen. Hufstetler seeks protections from Vogtle delays and cost overruns with SB 355!
State Senator Chuck Hufstetler (R-Rome) is taking action to protect Georgia consumers from rising costs at Georgia Power’s nuclear Plant Vogtle. Construction at Vogtle 3 & 4 is now more than five years behind schedule, the cost has nearly doubled to $23.4 billion, and yet Georgia Power will profit an additional $5 billion from the mismanaged project! In a December 2017 vote, the Public Service Commission failed to protect Georgia ratepayers from absorbing nearly all the impact of the delays and cost overruns. Due to 2009 legislation allowing Georgia Power to collect project financing costs during construction, customers have already paid more than $2 billion, nearly half of which is the Company’s profit. Georgia Watch supports Senate Bill 355 to hold Georgia Power Company accountable for delays and cost overruns on Plant Vogtle.

Read more about Senate Bill 355 here .
Accessing Affordable Healthcare: A Guide for the Uninsured
Healthcare is expensive. To make matters worse, many Georgians fall into the "coverage gap," which means they make too much money to qualify for Medicaid but too little to qualify for financial assistance to purchase health insurance. Without health insurance, even basic healthcare services, like annual checkups, may be too costly. This puts uninsured individuals at greater risk of health problems and unexpected medical emergencies that take a huge financial toll. Fortunately, some resources and tools exist to help uninsured individuals manage healthcare costs and find affordable care. 

To help uninsured individuals access healthcare, Georgia Watch has released an online resource,  Accessing Affordable Healthcare: A Guide for the Uninsured. The guide offers information and tips for those seeking low-cost healthcare in Georgia. 

Georgia Work Credit Would Help Georgia Families Save for Unexpected Emergencies
Despite low unemployment and a healthy stock market,  limited wage growth  coupled with high living expenses has made economic recovery  sluggish  for many Georgia families following the Great Recession. The most recent  Metro Atlanta Speaks Survey  conducted by the Atlanta Regional Commission found that only half of metro Atlanta’s families could afford to pay an unexpected $400 bill with cash or money in a bank account. Those who could not afford to pay the $400 in cash reported that they would delay paying the expense, put it on a credit card, borrow money, or pawn or sell items. A portion of consumers will take out high-interest, small-dollar loans, which often have steep interest rates that push families deeper into financial crisis. A  2016 survey  conducted by the Federal Reserve Board’s Division of Consumer and Community Affairs reported similar consumer behavior across the country.

Western Union to Pay $586 Million in Scam Settlement
Georgia Watch has  written before about the various methods scammers use to separate you from your money. One popular method gaining attention involves Western Union, one of the most popular money transfer companies in the world. Western Union has now agreed to pay  $586 million to the U.S. government and victims of fraud due to their inaction in addressing the rampant abuse of their services.  If you were a victim of a scam like the ones described below, you have until Feb. 12, 2018 to file a claim .

The scams often go something like this: you are selling something online and a “buyer” sends you a check for too much money and requests that you wire them the difference via Western Union. You send them the money and the product but since wire transfer is much faster than the check validation process, by the time you realize their check is not backed, it is too late. 

Energy Equity Webinar Later this Month
It's not too late to RSVP and learn about how to expand energy efficiency and community solar for all Georgians!
Hosted by Energy Efficiency for All-Georgia and Georgia Watch, this FREE webinar will discuss:

  • Energy equity and the energy burden in Georgia
  • Simple energy efficiency measures for your home
  • Benefits of energy efficiency and community solar
  • How to expand access to these clean energy solutions for low-income Georgians
  • and more!

The webinar is open to community members, policymakers, and advocates interested in energy efficiency and clean energy.

Click here to learn more and register now!
In the News
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Atlanta, Georgia 30303