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Ga. chamber power lunch stops in Hall
President discusses state issues with local impact
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When it comes to local and state politics, the two aren't always as different as they may seem.

Since last year, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce has travelled around the state hosting "power lunches" to discuss state issues that have local impact.

"We started these lunches to meet with the local power structures within communities statewide," said Georgia Israel, Georgia chamber president and CEO.

"These structures play a huge role in leading the state."

Thursday was the Gainesville Power Lunch, during the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce's Board of Directors meeting.

One of the most important state issues, with local ties, is water, Israel said.

"Although (Lake Lanier) is full, we have to continue to conserve water. We (recently) came out of one of the worst droughts - levels were at a 50-year low - so it's important that we capture, conserve and control that water," Israel said.

Despite the Georgia chamber playing a role in helping map out a water management plan for the state, Israel said there are some concerns - like possibly prohibiting interbasin transfers.

Such transfers occur when water is taken from one source and then discharged into another source in a different community.

"I'm very concerned about prohibiting interbasin transfers. We've got to realize that there are around 90 counties in this state that straddle two different basins," Israel said. "We've got to be smart about what we are prohibiting."

Other issues Israel discussed included things such as the state's trauma care network, transportation funding and education.

Although all of the meetings topics don't directly impact Hall County, local officials said the briefing was a necessary one.

"We are partners, working on the same issues. Things like health care, tax reform, transportation issues - they affect all of us," said Kit Dunlap, Hall chamber president and CEO.

"We're working on the regional level, but you need to look at the bigger picture sometimes."

In addition to discussing issues, Israel also encouraged attendees to be active participants in the November elections to help ensure the legislature maintains a "business friendly climate."

"This is the first time that I can recall where we had every constitutional office open - with the exception of Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle's position. There are going to be a lot of new faces under the gold dome (at the state capitol). I encourage all of our members to get involved and vote," Israel said.

"Our goal is to help the business community know what is happening and to also make sure that our (senators and representatives) know what is important to us."


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