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Lake Lanier Legislative Caucus set for Monday

POSTED: November 28, 2012 11:30 p.m.

The Lake Lanier Legislative Caucus is set to hold its next meeting Monday at Cumming City Hall.

The group, which formed in response to safety concerns arising from summer incidents on Lanier, is slated to hear from Col. Eddie Henderson of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Law Enforcement Section; Chuck Spahos, executive director of the Prosecuting Attorney Council of Georgia; and Val Perry, executive vice president of the Lake Lanier Association.

Perry is expected to talk about the Lake Lanier Water Safety Alliance, which comprises lake-related agencies and organizations focused on safety concerns. The group was formed earlier this year by Gainesville’s Lake Lanier Association.

During an October session at the Northeast Georgia History Center in Gainesville, Henderson said he would like to see lawmakers consider raising the age for being required to wear a life jacket while the vessel is moving to anyone under 13 years old from under 10.

“That would get us to a national standard,” he said.

And Spahos suggested that a person whose driver’s license has been suspended from a drunken driving conviction also should be banned from driving a boat on the lake.

“And if you’re convicted on the water, it should suspend your privilege to drive a motor vehicle,” he said.

The caucus also plans to talk about scheduling public hearings.

Lawmakers moved to form the caucus following a tragic summer on Lanier, including two highly publicized accidents — one that killed two Buford boys, Griffin and Jake Prince, and one that killed a boy reported to be the stepson of entertainer Usher.

Soon after the Prince brothers tragedy, Gov. Nathan Deal called on state lawmakers to lower the legal blood alcohol limit for boaters and hunters to 0.08 from 0.10.

One suggestion for possible legislation that has drawn much discussion is a required “safety card,” which boaters could get by taking a class, such as one of the hunter safety courses offered through the DNR.

“My idea is (the state charges) a fee for that and try to make sure all the money goes to the DNR,” said Rep. Emory Dunahoo, R-Oakwood, during the Northeast Georgia History Center session. “That way, we could afford more rangers. It’s kind of like, if you’re going to play, you’re going to pay.”


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