Thirsty commuters could get relief

The House has given final approval to S.B. 89, which would allow transit companies like MARTA to offer food and beverages for sale in train and bus stations. 

The bill, approved in a 165-0 vote, would also make it legal for people riding those trains and buses to consume non-alcoholic drinks as long as they are in a re-sealable plastic bottle. 

But the bill, which now goes to Gov. Sonny Perdue, was almost hijacked on its way to a clean vote. 

Rep. Sean Jerguson (R-Holly Springs) proposed an amendment to the bill that would have allowed people to carry guns into the non-secure portions of Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. That is something that gun-rights supporters have been trying to accomplish for the past several years through legislation and litigation. 

Those avenues having so far failed, Jerguson said an opportunity to try again. Republican lawmakers were particularly cornered by the move. The National Rifle Association, a major GOP supporter, had threatened to make the vote on Jerguson’s amendment a “score card” vote, meaning they would consider how a lawmaker voted in giving their overall score on support for gun rights. 

But many of those same lawmakers did not approve of the back-door nature of Jerguson’s move, believing that the issue should rise or fall as its own legislation. 

All of this led to a tense moment when House Speaker Pro Tem Mark Burkhalter (R-Johns Creek) said that he has always had a 100 percent record from the NRA. “I guess I’ll have 99 percent,” he said, urging his colleagues to vote against Jerguson’s amendment. 

But, when the moment came for Jerguson to ask for a vote on his amendment, he sat perfectly still in his chair, allowing the amendment to die without a vote. 

Following that sigh of relief, the House approved S.B. 89.

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