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Buckhead cityhood off the table for current legislative session

Speaker David Ralston said that if things don't change soon, the Senate will likely be back having a similar debate during the next session.

ATLANTA — Efforts to make Buckhead its own city appear to be off the table for this year's legislative session, after moves in the Senate to sideline the matter.

Speaker David Ralston spoke Friday at the Capitol on the issue. In remarks to reporters, he said it "takes two chambers to pass a bill."

"The Senate was very clear, and I respect their decision," Ralston said.

Responding to an 11Alive request for clarification, his office said Ralston "acknowledges in his remarks that the Senate’s decision not to take up the measure has effectively ended legislative consideration of this issue for the session."

Ralston stipulated in his remarks that the core problem of crime, which led to the Atlanta neighborhood wanting to form its own city, is still unsolved. He noted that he intends to see what actions Atlanta leaders take to combat the crime, and is hopeful Mayor Andre Dickens recognizes how significant the problem is. 

In a statement, Dickens said: "Since taking office I Have said, repeatedly, that we will remain one city with one bright future. I am thankful for the support of Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan, Speaker David Ralston and members of the Atlanta delegation, and all the other state leaders who have sat down with me. They have given me and my administration the runway we need to take off, and we will continue in our work to move Atlanta forward."

Ralston did indicate that if things don't change soon, the Senate will likely be back having a similar debate during the next session.

Just last month, Georgia's lieutenant governor, Geoff Duncan, threw up a roadblock for the Buckhead cityhood movement, assigning a state Senate bill providing for a vote on cityhood to a committee where it would likely be shelved.

In order for Buckhead to vote on whether it wants to be a city or not, it needs for the state legislature, the Georgia General Assembly, to pass a bill providing for a referendum.

Duncan had previously signaled his opposition to Buckhead cityhood, telling 11Alive's Doug Richards: "If it’s a cheap sales pitch that you vote for the city and crime goes away, all of us know that that’s not true."

Without leadership support from either Duncan or Ralston, a vote essentially has no path forward.


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