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Staff Report

A banker and two state senators from North Georgia are among the state's 100 most powerful people, according to a new listing by Georgia Trend magazine.

In its 12th annual listing of Georgia's most influential people, the monthly business publication identified state Sen. Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga, and state Sen. Don Thomas, R-Dalton, from the Georgia Legislature and United Community Bank President Jimmy Tallent from Hiawassee, Ga., among the state's top business and political leaders.

Sen. Mullis, 50, is chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee and "one of the state's most influential leaders on transportation matters," Georgia Trends reports.

"His efforts to establish a high-speed rail system linking Atlanta and Chattanooga got a big boost in September when the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a $14.2 million study grant for the project," the magazine says.

Sen. Thomas, a 76-year-old family physician, is chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, serves as secretary of the Education and Youth Committee and serves on the Appropriations, Ethics and Rules committees. He is currently working to repeal the seat belt exemption for pick-up trucks, which could save taxpayers an estimated $25 million in Medicaid costs.

Mr. Tallent, the 57-year-old president and CEO of United Community Bank, has helped turn the Blairsville, Ga.-based bank for the past 15 years into one of the largest bank holding companies in Georgia.

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