Tennesseans, guard your water.
In an effort to re-examine the Georgia-Tennessee border, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue signed a resolution Wednesday that urges him to negotiate with Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen.
The measure authorizes Georgia’s attorney general to file a border dispute with the U.S. Supreme Court if negotiations fail.
“He supports the intent and looks forward to having the conversation,” said Marshall Guest, spokesman for Gov. Perdue.
Gov. Bredesen hadn’t yet heard from Gov. Perdue, said Lydia Lenker, Gov. Bredesen’s spokeswoman, in a Wednesday e-mail. Gov. Perdue’s signature on the resolution changes nothing, Ms. Lenker said.
“Governor Bredesen has made it clear he has no intention of moving Tennessee’s border, nor will he give away Tennessee’s natural resources,” Ms. Lenker’s e-mail states.
Gov. Perdue didn’t have to sign the resolution by Wednesday’s signing deadline for it to take effect, but he did, along with hundreds of other pieces of legislation passed by lawmakers during this year’s session.
The border legislation claims the Georgia-Tennessee state line was incorrectly marked 1.1 miles south of the intended border, the 35th parallel, when a Georgia survey crew plotted the line 190 years ago. The legislation states Georgia has repeatedly tried to correct the error for more than 100 years.
Authors of the legislation made no secret of the fact that this latest attempt to move the border north was to capture a bend in the Tennessee River and rights to the water as Georgia endures historic drought.
The original proposal, which passed overwhelmingly in both the Georgia House and Senate, called for the formation of boundary commissions comprised of lawmakers to discuss the dispute with Tennessee lawmakers. But after the Tennessee Legislature passed its own resolution refusing to participate, the Georgia proposal was changed to a directive for the governor.
If negotiations between the governors fail, the authorization allows Georgia’s attorney general to take the argument to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“‘Authorize’ means to give the ability to do so,” Mr. Guest noted. “It doesn’t mean ‘shall.’ ”