AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

5 December dates that could affect your life


Hold on to your seat – and watch your wallet. Over the next two weeks, federal and state authorities are planning to vote on controversial measures that may affect your utility bills, taxes, internet speeds and children's access to healthcare.

Dec. 14 – The FCC votes on whether to repeal net neutrality rules enacted under the Obama administration. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is proposing elimination of rules that require internet providers to treat all internet content equally, saying the rules stifle innovation. The FCC meeting, which starts at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, will be live streamed at www.fcc.gov/live. Hundreds of Georgia residents weighed in. You can read their comments by clicking here: http://bit.ly/2C09cMc

Dec. 18 – Congress may vote on the tax package hammered out by Senate and House conference committee negotiators. Among the latest reported discussions: reducing the tax rate for top earners.   The committee's first open meeting on the tax package is today. Check CSPAN here for video: https://www.c-span.org/video/?438358-1/house-senate-conferees-meet-reconcile-tax-reform-bills

Dec. 21The Georgia Public Service Commission is expected to vote on continued construction of Plant Vogtle.  The vote on the nuclear expansion project had originally been set for Feb. 28 but was moved up at the request of Georgia Power, one of the plant's owners, to take advantage of tax benefits under current federal tax laws. If the PSC approves continued work, Georgia Power says the plant may be completed in another five years. Work was originally supposed to be completed this year. Cost to finish the plant is estimated at $4.5 billion. Since 2011, consumers have been paying for the plant's expansion.

Dec. 22 – This is the date the federal government again runs out of money, unless Congress works out a spending deal to prevent a government shutdown. Republicans want to lift the spending cap on defense, offset by cuts in domestic programs. Democrats reportedly want an equal increase for non-defense programs.  If agreement isn't reached, another stop-gap measure could be passed to delay decisions until 2018.

Dec. 31  - Federal funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which provides coverage for 9 million children, expired in  September, and some states are expected to run out of options by year's end. The federal program supports Georgia's PeachCare, which could run out of money as early as January if Congress doesn't vote to re-authorize. Congress is supposed to be out of town for Christmas and New Year's so the vote would have to come before then.


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About the Author

Lois Norder is Senior Editor for Investigations in the newsroom at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.