ATLANTA — The Georgia Senate rejected a Buckhead City bill Thursday, dealing a serious blow to supporters seeking secession from Atlanta.
The bill failed with 33 senators rejecting SB 114, a public referendum on Buckhead cityhood in 2024. Twenty-three voted in favor.
Senators debated the bill for nearly two hours before the vote. A coalition of Democrats and 10 Republicans voted against the legislation.
Among the Republicans who voted no was Sen. Frank Ginn, who represents portions of Barrow, Jackson, Clarke and Madison counties.
Ginn told his colleagues Thursday that Buckhead was the "heart" of Atlanta.
"I don't want to see our capital city die," he said.
In a statement on Twitter, Buckhead City Committee CEO and Chairman Bill White thanked supporters, including Lt. Gov. Burt Jones, for their efforts.
"We are of course disappointed in the results of the Senate vote today, but we will never give up until Buckhead gets to VOTE," he said.
A second vote will soon be held on SB 113, a companion bill that would allow newly formed municipalities to purchase property and other infrastructure from existing cities. The newly formed city would also take over some bond obligations.
The bill's failure come two days after Gov. Brian Kemp's office expressed concerns that the Buckhead bills may not be constitutional.
Executive Counsel David Dove warned the two bills could change local governments and create "a future of unforeseen outcomes." In a letter to Kemp's Senate floor leaders, Dove posed 11 questions the governor's office wanted answered before the bills moved forward.
Among the issues, Dove questioned how the bills might affect taxes, municipal bonds and the "possible widespread default that might occur" as a result of a split like this.
The bills were by Republican senators who live outside Atlanta — Majority Whip Randy Robertson, Brandon Beach, Greg Dolezal, Matt Brass, Lee Anderson, Marty Harbin, Billy Hickman and Carden Summers.
Sen. Colton Moore sponsored only SB 114, the Buckhead referendum. Sen. Shawn Still sponsored only SB 113.
In a statement following Thursday's vote, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said he was grateful that the Senate rejected the bill.
“To my fellow Atlantans: whether you support or oppose deannexation, I will continue working with you to improve our services, to invest in our communities and ensure a safe city for all," he said in a statement. "Atlanta is a group project, and we will work every day of the week with you, on your behalf, and hearing your voices.”