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The Local Agenda: Lawmakers to launch Lake Lanier caucus
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State lawmakers from counties surrounding Lake Lanier are set to kick off the Lake Lanier Legislative Caucus today in Buford.

Legislators from Gwinnett, Hall, Forsyth and Dawson counties plan to discuss legislative issues for the upcoming 2013 session, which starts in January.

The agenda will contain such items as lake levels, recent drownings, Georgia Department of Natural Resources budget funding, boating under the influence laws, and water court rulings and filings, according to a news release from the Georgia Senate Press Office.

The public is invited to attend, but seating is limited. Public hearings will be held at a future date.

The meeting is set to begin at 4 p.m., taking place at the Buford Community Center at 2200 Buford Highway, across from City Hall on Buford Drive.

Lake Lanier has had a summer of tragedy, including two incidents early in the summer — one that killed two Buford boys, Griffin and Jake Prince, and one that killed a boy reported to be the stepson of entertainer Usher — that drew regional to international attention.

The Lake Lanier Water Safety Alliance, established by the Gainesville-based Lake Lanier Association, also is moving ahead with several initiatives.

It has rolled out a website, lakelanier.org/safe-lake-initiatives, a compilation of safety resources available around the lake.

Another project under consideration is the creation of a boating safety “quick notes” guide that would be distributed at local businesses and “mailed to lake stakeholders in either boat registration, marina or Lake Lanier Association mailings,” the association’s executive director, Joanna Cloud, has said.

The alliance is planning a meeting in October. One of the topics will be potential suggestions for state lawmakers to consider when they go into session in 2013, Cloud said.

Flowery Branch set to agree on excise tax

Flowery Branch City Council is next in line to approve an agreement with other local governments that will allow them to collect a 2 percent sales tax from local manufacturers on their energy use.

State lawmakers, seeking ways to attract more industry, decided earlier this year to phase out the tax over a four-year period.

If local governments charge the excise tax, manufacturers will still stop paying the 4 percent sales tax on their energy use that once went to the state. They will also still pay the 1 percent sales tax for local education initiatives.

The council is set to consider the agreement at 6 p.m. Thursday at City Hall, 5517 Main St.

“We are generally estimated a loss of $10,000 to $15,000 to the general fund budget if this (agreement) were not passed,” City Manager Bill Andrew said in an agenda document. “This will not be new money but preserving the 2 percent from the (local option sales tax and special purpose local option sales tax) we already have in revenue.”

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