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Opponent challenges Linder to FairTax debate

U.S. Rep. John Linder's Democratic challenger, Allan Burns, wants to debate the Duluth Republican on the FairTax legislation in the wake of last week's rally in support of the bill at the Gwinnett Civic Center.

A capacity crowd of 4,500 jammed the center on Wednesday night, and another 2,000 were turned away, cheering loudly as Linder and others extolled the congressman's plan to replace the federal income tax with a national sales tax.

The next day, Burns put out a statement criticizing the legislation and referring to Linder and syndicated radio talk-show host Neal Boortz as "snake-oil salesmen.''

"Rational arguments and dissenting views generally have no place at such an event,'' Burns said of the rally. "It's all about passion and politics without facts and reason.''

Burns went on to argue that the 23 percent sales tax rate proposed in Linder's bill is unrealistically low and that most Americans would see their taxes go up, not down.

He called on Linder to debate the issue with him in a "public forum.''

Linder spokesman Derick Corbett said the congressman might take Burns up on the offer.

"We haven't thought about a debate with him,'' Corbett said. "We've just got so much going on in Congress. If he issues an official invite down the road, we'll think about it.''

Shafer gets new job

Long before he's scheduled to be back beneath the Gold Dome, Duluth Sen. David Shafer got some good news about his position at the Georgia Capitol.

He was named chairman of the Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee by Senate President Pro Tempore Eric Johnson, R-Savannah.

"Sen. Shafer's experience dealing with tough, complex issues is needed as we face Georgia's future energy demands," Johnson said. "We also need his leadership as we try to find the right balance between the free market and government regulation."

The Senate Regulated Industries Committee has jurisdiction over legislation dealing with electric power, natural gas, telecommunications and emerging broadband technologies. The committee also has oversight over regulated industries and professions, including accounting, engineering, architecture, surveying, real estate brokerage and appraisal, general contracting, home building and alcohol distribution and sales.

"Sen. Shafer is a great asset to the Senate," Senate Majority Leader Tommie Williams said. "His knowledge of the issues and policy is incomparable."

Shafer was elected in 2002. He has served as administration floor leader for Gov. Sonny Perdue and as chairman of the Senate Science and Technology Committee.

Staff Writer Dave Williams contributed to this report.

Political Notebook appears in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Camie Young can be reached via e-mail at camie.young@gwinnettdailypost.com.