House Majority Leader Gary Odom on Monday filed legislation "to address a recent threat by the Georgia General Assembly to encroach upon the southern border of Tennessee."
“What I thought was a joke has turned out to be rather disturbing,” said Rep. Odom (D-Nashville). “I thought it was important that the Tennessee General Assembly declare that we would not engage in any talks with Georgia regarding giving them a piece of Tennessee; that would be absurd.”
The resolution, HJR 919, is in response to a measure passed by the Georgia General Assembly recently that forms a “Georgia-Tennessee Boundary Line Commission,” which would discuss ceding Tennessee property to Georgia.
The Odom resolution "clearly states that no member of the Tennessee General Assembly will partake in said commission." It also goes on to say that the State of Tennessee will “take the high road relative to this mythical dispute, instead of becoming embroiled in an election-year ploy initiated by the Georgia General Assembly.”
Rep. Odom said, “While we understand the serious problem that the extended drought has created for the people of Georgia, neither Democrat nor Republican can see why Georgia legislators would resort to such a blatantly political tactic instead of coming up with a realistic solution.”
Beyond the political nature of the dispute, the Odom resolution includes Supreme Court precedent from cases involving state boundary disputes, including Oklahoma vs. Texas and Georgia vs. South Carolina.
“The highest court of the land, the United States Supreme Court, has ruled multiple times on the matter of state borders and said that a ‘long acquiescence’ is ‘conclusive of the rightful authority,’” said Rep. Odom. “Our border with Georgia has served both states well for nearly 200 years, so I think there’s little need to change it now.”
The Tennessee State House of Representatives is expected to move the bill swiftly through the committee process for quick passage on the House Floor, he said.
Rep. Odom has served House District 55 in the 95th through 105th General Assemblies. He has two grown children and is a member of Immanuel Baptist Church. He has been the executive director of the Tennessee Optometric Association for more than 20 years, served as a special investigator for the state Attorney General’s Office, was a Metro Nashville councilmember for 12 years and was a faculty member at Aquinas Junior College for three years.