ATLANTA — One Atlanta-area state legislator does not want the water Georgia might lay claim to if the disputed border between Tennessee and Georgia were moved — he wants the people.
Legislation introduced by Rep. Bobby Franklin, R-Marietta, would urge the Census Bureau to count people living between the recognized state line drawn in 1818 and the 35th parallel as Georgia residents to be used when apportioning congressional districts.
Rep. Franklin, chairman of the House Legislative and Congressional Reapportionment Committee, said he expected the estimated 40,000 additional Georgia residents — about 30,000 from Tennessee and 10,000 from North Carolina — would add one more congressional district to Georgia’s current 13.
“My interest has nothing to do with water,” he said. “It’s about what’s right and what needs to be enforced.”
The Georgia lawmaker’s proposal is not going down well with Tennessee state Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge.
“I think that’s one of the most ridiculous ideas I’ve ever heard of,” Rep. Dean said. “That land is Tennessee and for them to want to use it to consider as congressional districts from Georgia is totally ridiculous.”
Rep. Franklin said he even voted against a resolution last month that would form a border commission to resurvey the boundary because there is nothing to study.
But the measure brought the disputed 1818 survey to the attention of Rep. Franklin, who said he went to school in North Georgia and has worked in Chattanooga.
He also introduced this week a proposed constitutional amendment that would provide tax “amnesty” to all those living slightly south of the 35th parallel in Tennessee and North Carolina.
“Those (are) people who have erroneously been under the impression that they have not been Georgia residents. We don’t want to penalize them for it by paying back taxes,” Rep. Franklin said with a smile.
He said those residents also could apply for refunds for taxes they paid in Tennessee.
Hamilton County Commissioner Curtis Adams, who lives in East Ridge, said he is not planning on getting a massive tax refund anytime soon, calling all the border measures “a joke.”
“They need to send delegations up to Tennessee to ask for help,” he said. “That’s the only way to give or sell water.”
With only one legislative day before House measures have to be passed and sent to the Senate, Rep. Franklin said he is unsure if his proposal will get anywhere.
Meanwhile, Rep. Ron Forster, R-Ringgold, who could gain some constituents in a border shift, said he does not want to take part in his fellow legislators’ efforts to re-examine the border and voted against the border commission. He said he plans to introduce legislation soon that would leave the border where it now is recognized.
Rep. Tom Dickson, R-Cohutta, voted in favor of the border commission last month, but he said lawmakers have “gone as far as we can” with border measures.
“Most folks, I think, want us to figure out how to solve the water issues,” he said.
Andy Sher of the Nashville Bureau contributed to this story.