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Forsyth lawmakers to tackle water, TVAT, upskirting issues next session
Delegation discussed plans for General Assembly
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CUMMING -- The year may not be over yet, but lawmakers who represent Forsyth County are already gearing up for next year’s legislative session, which runs January through March.

On Tuesday morning, the Cumming-Forsyth Chamber of Commerce hosted the seven-member delegation to the Georgia General Assembly at their annual pre-legislative breakfast at the Lanier Technical College Forsyth Conference Center.

“I thought it went well,” said District 27 state Sen. Michael Williams, who is about to start his second two-year term. “It was a pretty lively crowd. We had some great questions. We had all of our local state senators and representatives there.”

“I was fully in support of [school] QBE funding, maxing out the QBE formula as soon as we can,” said District 26 state Rep. Geoff Duncan, who covers north and east Forsyth, including Lake Lanier.

Water issues affecting Lanier were also discussed at the meeting, particularly surrounding a recent decision by the federal government to defer authority in resolving water disputes to the states, which should benefit Georgia in the long-standing tristate water war with Florida and Alabama.

“We talked a little bit about water,” Duncan said. “It looks like last week there was some insight that the state of Georgia will get to control more of this process, and that was encouraging.”

In the upcoming session, Duncan said he is planning to pursue changes to the state’s Title Ad Valorem Tax, or TVAT.

Another long-standing issue – a possible new municipality in south Forsyth – was discussed, though it doesn’t appear any immediate changes are coming.

“There was a question about whether or not that was going to go forward,” Williams said. “The comment that I alluded to was we have new commissioners coming in; two new ones who I think are going to change the tone and the makeup of the board. We are hoping for kind of some homeowner-friendly policies and slowing the growth down.

“So before we add another layer of government, to just kind of wait and see what happens with the board.”

Williams said he intends to see what the federal government moves forward with next year.

District 24 state Rep. Sheri Gilligan is preparing for her second session.

“It’s still new to me; to pretend otherwise would be a joke on my part,” she said. “I’m getting a little more comfortable, but still amazed at the opportunity to represent the people of the county and the 24th district.”

Gilligan said she is not sponsoring any legislation but will help other members with legislation, including amending rules that allow “upskirting,” or taking a picture of someone’s private parts in a public place, which the state’s court of appeals ruled is not a crime due to language in the state law.

The breakfast was also the first without outgoing District 25 state Rep. Mike Dudgeon, who did not seek re-election this year.

Dudgeon’s successor, Todd Jones, will take over his seat in January and attended the meeting, as did District 51 state Sen. Steve Gooch, District 22 state Rep. Wes Cantrell and District 9 state Rep. Kevin Tanner, the three of whom represent smaller portions of Forsyth than Duncan, Gilligan, Jones and Williams.