Bill for new comprehensive transit plan passes on final day of legislative session

Bill for new comprehensive transit plan to come down to the wire on Sine Die

ATLANTA — A comprehensive regional transit plan that could reshape transportation across metro Atlanta now heads to the governor's desk.

Late Thursday night, lawmakers passed the regional transit plan in a 48-6 vote.

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Channel 2 political reporter Richard Elliot has spent the day Thursday speaking with lawmakers and confirmed around 6:45 p.m. that a deal had been struck.

State Sen. Brandon Beach could barely contain his excitement just minutes after lawmakers hammered out a compromise plan to create a regional transportation plan for metro Atlanta.

“This is a monumental big step for regional transit, so we’re really excited about this,” Beach told Elliot.

The plan would rebrand all transit as The ATL. It would create the Atlanta Transit Link as an umbrella organization over local transit authorities like MARTA.

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It would allow 13 metro counties to vote on a 1 cent sales tax, which would fund projects just in their area.

It would also allow Gwinnett County to vote as soon as this November to join MARTA. South Cobb and north and south Fulton counties could follow.

But Beach said they could’t start Senate debate until 11:30 p.m., many feared it could have been too close for the bill.

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“It’s going to be about 11:30 p.m. when we’re voting on this. We’re taking it down to the wire, but this is a huge win for the citizens of metro Atlanta,” Beach said.

Sine Die was also a chance for Gov. Nathan Deal to say goodbye to the General Assembly. This is his last term as governor and he was proud that the $26.2 billion budget approved Thursday included full funding for education for the first time in 33 years.

“It is truly an achievement that I think they should all be proud of and something that I am very proud of,” Deal said.

It was a busy day at the General Assembly.

The medical marijuana expansion bill passed the Senate. It adds PTSD and chronic intractable pain to the list of illnesses treatable by cannabis oil.

Late Thursday night, the Eagle's Landing Bill also passed. It would give residents of that area the ability to vote to de-annex from the city of Stockbridge.

The hands-free distracted driving bill also passed and now heads to the governor's office.

The hidden predator bill died in the Senate due to a procedural matter.