si·ne di·e/ˈsīnə ˈdīē
The end. But not really. The term is actually an adverb that means in reference to business or proceedings that are adjourned and have no appointed date for resumption. In Georgia, by law, the General assembly has a 40 day session and the gavel must signify sine die at midnight on the 40th day, which of course, was last night, Thursday, April 2, 2015.
Witness to an anomaly
However, last night, I was in the House to take pictures of the doors flinging open and the papers flying and it did not happen. At least the doors did not fling open. The Speaker of the House announced just moments before midnight that he was “just told” that the Senate would not be pronouncing Sine die at midnight but that they were “behind.” The speaker said they would “uphold the law” and pronounced Sine die at midnight. The papers flew and the floor rejoiced and members left the chamber. Apparently this is a rare occurrence and nobody really knew what it meant. Would the items the Senate voted on after midnight be valid? I still don’t have an answer on that one.
To someone who is still an “outsider” to the ways of the political machine, sine die was a battle. It was a battle of wills. A battle of time. A battle of parties. A battle of chambers. And in the end, the only winners were those that had legislation that they happily reported “made it out” of the battle. The chambers seemed to be in constant criticism of each other about how much work had been done or “how many bills had been taken up.” There were comments made by the Senate leader about the House while the Governor visited the chamber to do his annual thank you to the legislators. There were comments made by the House leader when the Senate was not ready to “throw open the doors” at Sine die. Some bills surely got caught up in this back and forth. But so it goes in politics.
A hot topic in the Capitol this year were all the cityhood bills. Lots of arguing over annexation of this neighborhood into the area and so on and so forth. If you follow any news you saw Tucker, LaVista Hills and South Fulton in these bills. Well cities weren’t the only things to be annexed at the Capitol. Sine die was all about annexation! Annexation of one bill onto another to get it through before the gavel was struck (or not as in the case of the Senate)! It was hard to keep up with. A bill would come back to a chamber for an agree and next thing you know there are two new amendments- which turned out to be two bills- just stuck onto it. I had heard about this but to see it live and in action was quite amusing. You had to keep a trained ear when the legislator would get to the well to know what might be “tacked on.” The religions liberty bill tried to “attach itself” to other bills that were making their way through. But no can do for this bill. Nobody let that get by them. However, when the bill was truly “germane” (means applicable) and was supported along the way, it just didn’t have time to get through or something else held it up, these bills found their way through the law-making process by clinging on to another bill number like a parasite, hanging on for dear life. Two bills made it through by attaching themselves to one of our aging bills, HB 72, this session. All is well as they passed strongly! All bills will still need to go to the Governor’s office for a signature to become law. A final step that has to happen within the next 40 days as the Governor must sign the bills into law. He can choose to sign, ignore or veto the bills. We anticipate full support on all of our legislative issues that passed this year.
The mixed feelings
My first session in state government is over. It is a bittersweet day. I looked forward to going to the Capitol and gleaning more each time. The build up to any “deadline” is filled with anticipation and excitement. And so there is always a “let down” too. (Like the day after a big event that you have spent many hours planning.) There is relief and happiness but there is some sadness in the passing of the moment too. I won’t be a “newbie” next year. I am on to my sophomore year. I hope you have enjoyed sharing in my freshman experience of Georgia politics. Most of all, I hope you have learned something. Learned something that might motivate you to take action on behalf of yourself or others. Learned something that might make you feel more comfortable about coming down to the Capitol to talk to your legislator or participate in a rally. There are so many ways to be an advocate! If you are passionate about senior issues, consider joining CO-AGE, the Coalition of Advocates for Georgia’s Elderly. We would love to have you be a part of our grassroots efforts.
Thank you to my subscribers. Please feel free to share this blog with others. I will leave the posts up so they can be read from start to finish. Who knows? Maybe I will find something else to blog about soon. In the meantime, sine die.