A House committee that passed legislation to help MARTA earlier this week has since thought the better of it. On Tuesday, while considering a bill (SB 520) to raise the state Department of Transportation’s program for mass transit and non-road projects to division status, it approved a suggestion by Rep. Pat Gardner (D-Atlanta) to add language to the bill to help MARTA. The language would have permanently lifted a restriction on how MARTA spends its sales tax revenues. It would also have removed members from the MARTA board who represent the state, which doesn’t pay into MARTA operations, and counties that don’t either. Fulton, Dekalb and the city of Atlanta, which pay a 1 percent sales tax to operate MARTA, would appoint board members.
That version passed the committee but didn’t get far. It was sent back, and on Wednesday they stripped out the MARTA language. The bill went back to restoring DOT’s intermodal office to division status, and was passed again. The division was apparently unwittingly demoted last year in a new law reorganizing the state’s governance.