Not all locals buy into Shafer's river proposal

Sen. David Shafer argued so persuasively Wednesday for his resolution to fix Georgia's borders with Tennessee and North Carolina that the Duluth Republican's colleagues passed it unanimously.

But a sizable contingent of Gwinnett's House delegation didn't buy it and voted "no" on an identically worded resolution sponsored there by Rep. Harry Geisinger, R-Roswell.

Unlike in the Senate, skepticism dominated Wednesday's debate on the House side.

Opponents weren't convinced that officials on the other side of those borders could be swayed to fix a boundary set in the wrong place by a flawed survey done way back in 1818. At least not short of a court order that likely would take years of litigation to win.

The House resolution ended up passing 136-26, but five of those 26 opposing votes came from Gwinnett Republicans: Reps. David Casas of Lilburn, Melvin Everson of Snellville, John Heard of Lawrenceville, Robert Mumford of Conyers - whose district extends into southern Gwinnett - and Tom Rice of Norcross.

Democrat Brian Thomas of Lawrenceville also voted "no" after characterizing the resolution on the House floor as "the largest inter-basin transfer imaginable."

Dread of such large-scale water grabs to let metro Atlanta keep growing ever outward is what spurred so many environmentalists and downstream legislators to oppose the recently adopted statewide water plan.

Conservative group disagrees with legislation

A group of conservative Gwinnettians voiced opposition this week to House Speaker Glenn Richardson's so-called GREAT Plan, which would eliminate property taxes in favor of sales taxes.

"As conservative Republicans, we strongly advocate fiscal responsibility, free enterprise and smaller government. We are very much opposed to the current push toward the centralization of power by the Georgia State Legislature," said Julianne Thompson, chairwoman of the Suwanee-based Lincoln Club of Georgia.

"The GREAT Plan sounds appealing in it's definition - let's repeal the ad valorem taxes. After all, we are the party of less taxation, right? But what they are doing is using this opportunity to strip power from our local governments. We oppose the state legislature's push to strip our local school boards of their power to decide how tax dollars are used locally."

According to a press release issued this week, the political action committee wants to remind politicians to stick to conservative principles.

"I thought we were the party of smaller government and local control," said Michael Sullivan, the Lincoln Club's vice chairman of elections. "After only a few years in power, the Republican majority in the House seems to think that the solution to every problem is to concentrate more and more power in the General Assembly. Now they are even trying to abolish the Board of Regents, which was created in the 1940s to protect the independence and accreditation of the university system."

Thompson added, "It is very disappointing. We, the citizens, elected a Republican majority in hopes of smaller government, less taxes and more freedom. Instead, there is an overt attempt to seize power and an atmosphere of fear, where anyone in disagreement fails to voice opposition in fear of losing their political standing. We do not share that fear."

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

Staff Writer Dave Williams contributed to this report.

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