Possible MARTA expansion in Atlanta and the death of an effort to kill the DeKalb County CEO position were among the decisions of local interest as the Georgia Legislature ended its 2016 session just after midnight March 25.
Any bills passed by the Legislature still need Gov. Nathan Deal’s signature. A rundown of some bills of local interest:
- Atlanta voters would get a chance to approve an additional 0.5 percent sales tax to fund MARTA expansion within the city, likely on the BeltLine. Senate Bill 369 also allows Fulton County to put a 0.25 percent sales tax for MARTA on the ballot sometime in the future, while allowing a 0.75 percent sales tax for road improvements to go on the ballot this year, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Earlier efforts to boost MARTA taxes and expansion in DeKalb and Fulton, supported by such local officials as Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul, were controversial and failed.
- A bill to eliminate DeKalb County’s unique chief executive officer position, sponsored by Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody), did not get a vote.
- The Legislature passed Senate Bill 304, originally a House bill sponsored by DeKalb Democrat Rep. Scott Holcomb, which requires police agencies to promptly process sexual assault evidence tests, or “rape kits.” The new law follows revelations last year that Atlanta’s Grady Memorial Hospital had 1,400 rape kits that had gone unprocessed.
- The “adoptable dog” may become the official state dog following the passage of Senate Bill 168. The effort, meant to encourage adoption of any type of dog from shelters, began as a House bill sponsored by Rep. Joe Wilkinson (R-Sandy Springs), who was inspired by political consultant Todd Rehm, editor of the GaPundit.com news site, which frequently highlights dogs available for adoption. Wilkinson is also working as a consultant on a movie about Sgt. Stubby, a stray dog that was adopted by U.S. soldiers in World War I and became a nationally known mascot.