Privatization mandate likely to be dropped from MARTA bill

Author Mike Jacobs says he’ll probably concentrate on overhauling board appointments

State Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Brookhaven, says he’s still trying to get his controversial MARTA legislation passed this year, but he isn’t counting on any help from the state Senate, where his bill has languished for a solid month.

“The bottom line is, the bill has stopped in the Senate, but we’ve got three or four options left in the House,” he explained shortly after the House’s adjournment on Thursday.

No one’s told Jacobs why his HB 264 was buried in the Senate, whether due to concerns over the impact of privatization or to good, old-fashioned arm-twisting from Mayor Kasim Reed, a well-connected former senator.

The options Jacobs cites are several unrelated Senate bills that he’s amended to include his MARTA language. For his scheme to succeed, however, the Senate would need to agree to his amendments. To clear that hurdle, Jacobs seems resigned to dropping the most contentious measure from his legislation: a provision to force the transit agency to privatize a number of key functions, including human resources and technical support.

“We would bring it back next year,” he says of the privatization mandate.

So, what’s left from Jacobs’ bill that’s worth passing this year? Well, the other major provision in HB 264 would effectively take away the Fulton County Commission’s ability to appoint MARTA board members and give it to the mayors of the county’s fourteen cities, one appointee from the south end and two from the north. The bill would also give the governor an appointment.

“In creating these new cities, voters have transferred the responsibility for setting transportation policy from the county to their local municipalities,” Jacobs says. “My bill would reflect that shift.”

He predicts we’ll have to wait until next Thursday, the final day of the 2013 General Assembly, to see if the Senate agrees with him.