Yesterday the Georgia Senate passed House legislation that would promote a compromise to the border dispute between the state of Georgia and the state of Tennessee whether it be through compliance of both states or through possible legal action.
HR 4 was passed 48-2 after the chamber included a specific amendment that they believe will express to lawmakers in Tennessee how serious the situation is to the Georgia Legislature.
The state Senate included an ultimatum amendment to the measure. If Tennessee chooses to not comply with the land compromise agreement alleged through HR 4 the Georgia legislature would take the lawmakers in Tennessee to court.
This 195-year old dispute has been discussed by the state legislature of Georgia more than nine times in two separate centuries. Georgia’s northern border was meant to be established at the 35th parallel. However, Georgia lawmakers say because of a mistaken 1818 survey, the border is a mile away from there excluding the Tennessee River from Georgia’s property.
Under the plan, Georgia would give up 66 square miles but its border would move to the middle of the Tennessee River. This would amount to an area of a one and a half mile strip shooting north of the current border to reach the water source, Nickajack Lake.
State Senator Charlie Bethel(R-Dalton) says Georgia won’t cede its claim to the land. He asked his colleagues to OK the plan on the Senate floor Monday adding some fighting words towards Tennessee lawmakers.
“I ask that you favorably consider this resolution, and I urge my neighbors to consider carefully the consequences of failing to do so the next time they have the opportunity,” he said.
Sen. Jeff Mullis(R-Chickamauga), whose district borders Tennessee, was the one of two Senators to vote against the resolution. He supports Georgia’s claim to water in the Tennessee River, however, in his opinion, a pending lawsuit is not a sufficient way to resolve the border dispute.
“I think that would be a better approach with Georgia and Tennessee instead of resolutions or threatening lawsuits. There needs to be a discussion.”
He added, “It would need to come between two governors.”
Governor Deal, in his talks with the AJC has not confirmed any genesis of talks with the governor of Tennessee surrounding the legislation or the dispute. The governor did make his position on the dispute known when he made the claim that the acquisition of the Nickajack Lake from the state of Tennessee would not “negatively impact the state of Tennessee” significantly.
The resolution currently sits within the House for one last approval and, pending no further amendments, it will be sent to the Governor’s desk.
This bill, however, will not end at the Governor’s desk as then the message will be relayed to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam. If talks begin between the two governors then a lawsuit could be averted. And if the reverse occurs, a lengthy legal dispute could ensue.
Hypothetically speaking, if the two states breeze through an agreement for the boundary dispute and both comply, they would then have to send in a request to the US Congress to redraw the border lines.