Beach tries to unsnarl the knot on MARTA bills

[private]Two bills dealing with a MARTA sales tax to finance future rail expansion — SB 313 and SB 330 – have gotten tangled up in two different committees in the Georgia Senate.

Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta), the author of both bills, said Tuesday he’s made some progress in getting them untangled.

SB 313, the first bill introduced last week, was mistakenly sent to a committee chaired by Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell), who opposes the idea of a half-penny sales tax for MARTA rail expansion.

When Albers refused to allow the bill to be moved from his committee, Beach introduced an identical measure, SB 330, and had it assigned to the friendlier Senate Transportation Committee chaired by Sen. Tommie Williams (R-Lyons).

Beach said an “arrangement” has been reached that will allow Albers to proceed with a hearing he scheduled on Tuesday for SB 313. The bill will then shift over to Williams’ Transportation Committee.

“I wanted the bill to be in transportation,” Beach said. “Sen. Albers has agreed that he will move it to transportation.”

“Sen. Williams will give me a hearing on Thursday and then he’ll move on the bill,” Beach said.

One last condition for moving the bill to the Senate floor is that a majority of the chamber’s 39 senators would have to agree to support it. Beach said he thinks that will happen.

“We will get Republican support,” he predicted. “Not all Republicans are against transit.”

Senate Democrats are expected to support a rail transit bill, regardless of what number it might carry coming out of committee.

The bill would allow Fulton and DeKalb counties to hold a one-cent sales tax referendum for transportation purposes. Half of that penny would be used for road projects, while the other half would be spent on rail expansion.

“We have got to make some big and bold decisions, and this is big and bold.” Beach said.

© 2016 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Brandon Beach , John Albers , MARTA rail expansion , Tommie Williams