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Political notebook: Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce asks Ga. legislators to vote against tax plan

Gwinnett's Chamber of Commerce has asked the local legislative delegation to vote against House Speaker Glenn Richardson's tax reform proposal.

In a letter to Rep. Bobby Reese, R-Sugar Hill, who heads the House delegation, Chamber President Jim Maran said the business organization applauds Richardson for "having such a bold vision" on tax reform but it does not support his legislation.

"At a time when we need stable revenues to invest in our infrastructure (education, public safety or transportation), our biggest concern is that the proposed property tax changes will have unintended negative impacts on Gwinnett County businesses and citizens," Maran wrote in the letter.

Maran said the proposal represents a shift from property taxes to sales taxes, not a cut, and it could mean Gwinnett dollars are distributed to other areas of Georgia. There is also a concern that the package could harm the county's economic development efforts in Partnership Gwinnett.

"The bottom line is that Gwinnett has a national reputation that leads the way in responsible government - from our cities to the school systems to the county level," he wrote. "They have always been good stewards of the taxpayers' money and trust and should be allowed to continue making those revenue and budget decisions at the local level. This sort of tax reform does not allow that and is not in the best interest of Gwinnett."

Linder disagrees with energy legislation

U.S. Rep. John Linder voted against legislation this week that will increase taxes on energy companies.

Despite his dissension and that of many House Republicans, the bill passed by a vote of 236-182.

"The U.S. House of Representatives took another step backward in our fight to be energy independent," Linder, R-Duluth, said of the vote last week. "The House slammed the door on increased energy production by approving a $17 billion tax increase on American energy companies. What sense does it make to increase taxes on the very companies that we must rely on to make us energy independent?"

Linder believes that tax hikes will not stop companies from making a profit; rather it will simply stop them from making profits in the United States. He predicted that the bill will force energy companies to fire American workers and move their operations overseas to avoid these new taxes.

"This bill will do nothing to decrease consumer prices, help our economy, or make our environment cleaner," he said, blasting Democrats for holding the fourth vote to raise energy taxes since they took over Congress more than a year ago. "Instead this bill throws more good money after bad in the form of greater subsidies for the renewable energy industry. From 1989 to 2005, the government spent billions of dollars on increasing renewable energy use in this country. In that time, our renewable energy consumption rose by a meager 3 percent - 3 percent in 16 years - that is a less than 1 percent increase per year. To my mind, that is too much money for too little achievement."

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.