Sessions vary across the U.S.
The Georgia legislative session is only 40 days in length. There is not a standard amongst states regarding their sessions, each sets their own. For example, Florida holds a 60 day session, Alabama is 30 days and South Carolina has another way to do it. The Palmetto State has no limitation on the number of days during a legislative session just that it starts in January and must end by 5pm on the 1st Thursday in June. Some states hold their session in the winter months, some in the summer! Quite honestly, by comparison, Georgia seems to have a reasonable session.
We’ve made it through half time.
Not exactly the right terminology for state legislatures. Monday, February 23, 2015 marked the 20th day of the Georgia General Assembly so we have made it half way through the total of 40 days. The excitement and pace has changed Under the Gold Dome. There is a sense of urgency or anxiety that has replaced the excitement and everyone seems to be more determined than ever to move their pieces of legislation through the process. The next 10 days are crucial to the livelihood of a bill.
Day 30 of the Georgia Legislative session is called Crossover day and holds significance. It is the last day for legislation to pass the chamber in which it was introduced and be transferred to the other chamber for consideration. Any bill that does not get a vote in its chamber by Day 30 cannot move further in the current legislative session. Because we are currently in a two-year session with no elections until Nov 2016, any bills still alive would begin their process again from the point they ended up. If it was an election year any legislation that does not make it through for a vote out of its chamber by Day 30 would be considered “dead” and would have to start the whole process again in the next session. This could be quite a disappointment for those hoping to get a bill through in one session; hence you see the reason for the “revving up” that occurs during this time at the Capitol.
Friday the 13th?
Crossover Day is scheduled for a Friday this year: March 13, 2015. I have read and been told that day 30 often lasts late into the night. Of course, it must adjourn by midnight. I find it odd that they would choose a Friday for this day. However, they are conveniently adjourning for a 4-day weekend immediately following so that the Savannah legislators can enjoy St. Patrick’s Day to the fullest (or at least that is what the lobbyists all conjure as the reason)!
It is important to note that Crossover day is scheduled at the end of a week that convenes every other day. The General assembly will convene on Monday (9th), adjourn on Tuesday (10th), convene on Wednesday (11th) and so forth. This is to allow time for meetings, dealings and negotiations in order for legislators to get their Bills to the floor for a vote before the all- important 30th day is over!
Putting the pressure on
As we begin to see things heat up at the Capitol, the aging advocates are pleased to have one bill already crossed over from the House to the Senate (HB 86) but are awaiting Rules to put it on the floor for a vote. Our Elder Abuse bill (HB 72) has passed sub-committee and is waiting scheduling in full committee in the House. You can rest assured that we will be pressing hard to get it “out of the House” before Crossover Day. Stay tuned to my blog for my third and fourth quarter reports on my first experience of the Georgia General Assembly.