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Tennessee House Republican Leader Gerald McCormick

NASHVILLE - Run to your bunkers, Georgia lawmakers: Incoming fire's heading across the border from your Tennessee counterparts.

Tennessee House members cheered, whistled and noisily clapped Thursday as a Nashville colleague launched a verbal barrage at Georgia's demands for access to Tennessee River water.

"I believe that we might be the Volunteer State, but I believe in no way should we surrender any part of our state, particularly land and water we've possessed for nearly 200 years," Rep. Jason Powell, D-Nashville, said in his floor speech.

"Just because another state and a specific large city in that state has not done a better job for planning and development" doesn't mean they can poach something that belongs to Tennessee, Powell said.

"As far as I'm concerned, Georgia can keep its greedy hands and its thirsty mouths away from our water."

Replied House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga: "I believe the representative can rest easy."

Georgia state Rep. Tom Weldon, R-Ringgold, said later Thursday that Powell was "grandstanding."

"He probably is looking for something to prop up his notoriety," he said.

The Georgia Legislature recently passed a resolution that seeks to negotiate with Tennessee over a small portion of land in Marion County that would let it tap the river.

If that doesn't work, the resolution authorizes the state to go the U.S. Supreme Court.

Weldon, who's an attorney, thinks Georgia has a good shot if the case goes to court.

"I think Georgia has a pretty good claim to access the water," Weldon said.

Staff writer Tim Omarzu contributed to this report.

Contact staff writer Andy Sher at or 615-255-0550.