The 40 most dangerous days of the year are about to start. The Georgia General Assembly is back in session this coming Monday, January 13, 2014.
It will be a short 40 days this year, however, because the primaries are on May 14, 2014. Why does that matter? Because this is an election year and the legislators cannot raise money while the Legislature is in session. All state senators and representatives in Georgia serve two-year terms so they’re all up for reelection. That also includes Governor Deal and his likely main opponent State Senator Jason Carter this year.
The legislative session is always longer than a strict 40-weekday schedule would have it because there are recesses for budget negotiations and for other issues. I think last year the session ended on March 28, 2013 (Sine Die) which was 53 weekdays after the start.
I don’t expect much out of this session. No one will want to introduce any controversial legislation in an election year. Governor Deal certainly is not going to tackle any thorny topics like transportation funding. I imagine that ethics will be discussed and maybe even acted upon, with Senator Balfour’s sterling example still staring them in the face.
I haven’t looked at the prefiled bills yet, to know what fun things are waiting to die in committee, but I happen to know, and am delighted to share with you, that the Georgia General Assembly operates on a two-year basis. Any bill that wasn’t voted down last year is still alive an available for resurrection. Mostly that doesn’t mean anything; lots of bills get filed and go nowhere, but some have traction and just don’t get the muscle to be passed before the session runs out. I have to go review what’s sitting around from 2013.
We’ll see what our legislators have in mind for us this year come the next few weeks.
1-9-14 Update: After my above passive bashing State Senator Don Balfour, he had an interview in which he promised to do better and that he might be interested in criminal justice reform. I find this to be a clear line of bullshit, but he’s not my state senator. If he gets reelected by his constituency…well that says something about his portion of Gwinnett County. If he is given any positions of power in the Senate this legislative session I will be deeply disappointed in this GOP party. His actions, while perhaps not jailable offenses, are clearly unethical by a Christian definition of ethics, a standard to which almost every GOP lawmaker here in Georgia is proud to cling.