Atlanta transit expansion bill is signed

[private]Gov. Nathan Deal has signed SB 369, which authorizes an Atlanta referendum on a half-cent sales tax to fund MARTA expansion.

If voters approve the new levy, it would eventually generate a projected $2.5 billion for new MARTA facilities within the city limits of Atlanta, including light rail connections to the Atlanta Beltline.

“I applaud Governor Nathan Deal for demonstrating his leadership and support for the City of Atlanta today when he signed SB 369 into law,” Mayor Kasim Reed said.

“Atlanta’s residents have spoken loud and clear – they want transit solutions that will allow everyone to fully participate in the cultural and economic life of our city, and for our city to maintain its position as the cultural and economic leader of the Southeast,” Reed said.

The MARTA expansion bill originally sponsored by Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) would have encompassed the rest of Fulton County and DeKalb County as well, but the issue was deferred for a while in those jurisdictions.

SB 369 does authorize a separate sales tax referendum for Fulton with the tax revenues allocated for road improvements rather than transit projects.

DeKalb County, whose voters will decide this year on a new CEO to head the county government, is expected to take up the MARTA expansion issue later.

SB 369 was initially introduced by Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga) as a bill to put some restrictions on the use of fireworks, but the measure instead was used as a vehicle for the compromise MARTA expansion bill drafted by House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones.

A bill that does regulate the use of fireworks at the local ordinance level, HB 727, was signed into law by Deal on Tuesday. Rep. Paul Battles (R-Cartersville) was the chief sponsor.

Deal also signed HB 941, which will restrict the access that police officers have to grand jury proceedings where a criminal charge against the officer is being considered.

Deal signed SB 346, which exempts state-funded road projects costing less than $100 million from environmental protections.

SB 346 was known as the “Bulldozing History” bill when first introduced and was opposed by archaeologists and environmentalists who said it would allow road projects to move ahead without regard to historic and cultural sites such as Native American burial mounds.

The bill was amended in a House committee to remove some of the provisions before it passed.

Other bills signed by the governor:

SB 168, originally introduced in the House by Rep. Joe Wilkinson (R-Sandy Springs), designates the “adoptable dog” as the official state dog.AdoptabledogA2

SB 308 creates a grant program for pregnancy centers that try to persuade pregnant women not to get abortions.

HB 818, sponsored by Rep. Jason Shaw (R-Lakeland), is the annual housekeeping bill for the workers’ compensation board that increases some of the rates and upgrades some of the benefits.

HB 509 creates a Georgia Palliative Care and Quality of Life Advisory Council as part of the Department of Community Health.

HB 193 by Rep. Carl Rogers (R-Gainesville) will prohibit life insurance companies from retaliating against agents who counsel policyholders about alternatives to letting their life insurance policies lapse.

© 2016 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: bill signings , MARTA , Nathan Deal