NASHVILLE — A Tennessee House resolution challenging Georgia’s effort to access the Tennessee River sailed easily through a legislative panel Wednesday.
House Majority Leader Gary Odom, D-Nashville, said the resolution would reject Georgia’s efforts to persuade Tennessee to participate in a boundary commission to resurvey the state line and correct what Georgia legislators said was a flawed survey in 1818.
“While the (Georgia) resolution that passed doesn’t deal with anything but the strict boundary, I think from the feedback I’ve had back from the state is this is all about water and access to the Tennessee River,” Rep. Odom said.
He said that while parts of his House Joint Resolution 919 are “tongue in cheek ... at the same time I think this resolution deals with a very important issue, and it serves as a formal response that the state of Tennessee does not believe there is an error in the boundary.”
The resolution zipped unanimously through with no debate.
Rep. Mike Turner, D-Nashville, said that lawmakers should consider singing “Rocky Top,” one of Tennessee’s official songs.
The song darkly hints of the murder of two “strangers,” presumably government agents, who mysteriously vanish after seeking to raid a Tennessee moonshiners’ still.
Georgia lawmakers said the border should be about 1.1 miles north of its current location. That would take in part of Nickajack Lake in Marion County and parts of Hamilton, Bradley and Polk counties.
Georgia lawmakers have not ruled out going to the U.S. Supreme Court if no action is taken, and their memorandum lays out a legal strategy for doing so.
Earlier this week, Polk County Commissioners Daniel Deal and John Pippenger persuaded fellow commissioners to pass a resolution condemning Georgia’s “annexation plan.”
The resolution states that Georgia “failed to provide infrastructure, economic development, educational incentives, governmental controls/regulations or basic aid or assistance of such lands in Polk.”
“I’m from the Copperhill end of the county, and if (a border amendment) did happen, both me and Commissioner Darren Waters could be living in Georgia,” Mr. Deal said.
Copperhill Mayor Herb Hood said the border tension is old news.
“This idea flares up every 75 to 100 years,” Mr. Hood said.
“I believe if they (Georgians) like Tennessee so much, they ought to move up here and become citizens of the state,” said Tennessee state Rep. Eric Swafford, R-Cleveland, who represents Polk County.
State Rep. Jim Cobb, R-Spring City, said his constituents are not taking the Georgia resolution seriously.
“This deal with moving the border is not going to happen, and I debated whether to sign on to the (Tennessee) resolution ... because I’d just as soon not pay it any attention, not even give it the courtesy or dignity of a response,” Rep. Cobb said.
Staff writer Lori Yount and correspondent Ron Clayton contributed to this story.
The resolution now goes to the House State and Local Government Committee.
Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...