Georgia Watch Honors 2020 Consumer Champions

Georgia Watch Honors 2020 Consumer Champions

COLUMBUS, GA – May 26, 2021 – Yesterday, Georgia Watch presented its 2020 Consumer Champion Awards to four individuals for their work to protect and empower consumers in Georgia. 

[From left to right: Tedra Canella, Andy Lord, Stephanie Cockfield, Richard Smith, Randy Robertson, Liz Coyle]

Georgia Watch recognized Chairman Richard Smith (R-Columbus, House Rules Committee Chairman) as the “Consumer Champion for Healthcare” for his hard work to protect Georgians from surprise out-of-network medical bills. Chairman Smith, who previously served as House Insurance Committee Chairman, and Lifetime Consumer Champion Senator Chuck Hufstetler worked diligently in recent years to advance legislation to address surprise medical bills. They successfully worked to move the Surprise Billing Consumer Protection Act through the legislature in 2020, which the governor signed into law in July.

Senator Randy Robertson (R-Cataula) received the “Consumer Champion for Financial Protection” award for his dedicated effort to protect Georgians from predatory car title lending. During the 2020 legislative session, Senator Robertson introduced the Motor Vehicle Title Loan Act to close legal loopholes that currently allow car titles to be “pawned” at interest rates as high as 300 percent. He fought tirelessly to move the bill through the Senate Finance Committee.

Georgia Watch recognized Stephanie Cockfield of The Ark with the “Champion for Economic Opportunity” award for her work educating and helping Georgians struggling with financial hardship. As the Financial Education Director at The Ark in Athens, Stephanie connects struggling families with unique financial products and provides crucial financial education to help families become self-sufficient. Her work at The Ark goes a long way toward assisting Georgians to escape and avoid predatory lending debt traps.

Lucy Hudgens of The Ark received the “Champion for Economic Opportunity” award for her relentless dedication to advocating against predatory lending and for greater financial protections for struggling Georgians. As the Executive Director of The Ark, Lucy has led efforts to provide financial assistance to struggling families by providing equitable lending alternatives to predatory small-dollar loans, access to credit union accounts, and financial education. Under Lucy’s leadership, The Ark joined Georgia Watch in advocating for the Motor Vehicle Title Loan Act during the 2020 legislative session. Through her powerful testimony in support of the Act, Lucy highlighted the critical need for organizations like The Ark to lift Georgians out of poverty and open doors to economic opportunity.

“Georgia Watch is proud to recognize these Consumer Champions for standing up for the interests of Georgia consumers,” said Georgia Watch Executive Director Liz Coyle. “We owe them each a debt of gratitude for the energy they put forth every day to keep Georgians safe, healthy and financially secure.”

Founded in 2002, Georgia Watch is a statewide, non-profit consumer advocacy organization working to inform and protect Georgia consumers on matters that significantly impact their quality of life, including the effects of predatory business practices, the high cost of utilities and healthcare, and restricted access to the civil justice system.