Political Notes — Crossover day will be a little earlier this year

[private]One of the major mile markers in any legislative session is “Crossover Day,” the day on which a bill must be passed by at least one of the houses in order to stay eligible for final adoption by session’s end.

For the past few years, that magic date has been the 30th day of the session, but this year it’s moving back by two days.

That’s because of a rules change adopted Monday by the state Senate that says the upper chamber will not vote on one of its own general bills or resolutions after Day 28 of the 40-day session.

The date change was discussed during the interim by a Senate study committee that recommended several tweaks to Senate rules.

Because the House has more than three times as many members as the Senate, the House passes roughly three times as many bills each session. Senator leaders said they needed more than just the last 10 days of the session to have time to deal with the larger number of House bills.

“We need time to vet them properly,” said Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), the rules committee chairman. “This helps both houses.”

Before the Senate voted on the rules change, Mullis met with Speaker David Ralston and Senate Majority Leader Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) met with his House counterpart, Majority Leader Jon Burns (R-Newington), to discuss the matter.

“We’re OK with 28 days,” said Ralston’s spokesman, Kaleb McMichen. “We’re fine with it, and off we go.”

Another rules change adopted by the Senate this week could also put an end to legislative votes that take place after midnight of the last day of the session, when the General Assembly is supposedly adjourned for the year.

The new rule says that if an electronic vote is in process at the hour of adjournment (usually 12 midnight), then that vote will be completed and announced.  Otherwise, “the Senate shall stand adjourned by virtue of said prior resolution.”

Two years ago, a controversial tax break bill was rammed through the Senate after midnight on the 40th day of the session, resulting in complaints that the Senate was violating the state constitution.

“We don’t believe that’ll happen” with the new rule in place, Mullis said.

Ralston proposes transit funding

House Speaker David Ralston said legislation will be introduced this session to create a new commission that will try to coordinate the current hodge-podge of transit agencies and develop funding sources for mass transit.

“For our state to continue to lead the nation in transportation and logistics, we must do more to mitigate road congestion and move freight more efficiently,” Ralston said at the annual Eggs and Issues breakfast.

There have been numerous legislative study committees taking a look at transit issues in recent years, but lawmakers could be a little closer to actually doing something to address the issue.

Deal names two state school board members

Gov. Nathan Deal has appointed former legislator Mike Cheokas of Americus and Lee Anne Cowart of Thomson to the state Board of Education.

Cheokas was a member of the House for 12 years but was defeated for reelection last year after supporting Deal’s unsuccessful attempt at a state takeover of low-performing schools.

“Mike Cheokas and Lee Anne Cowart are dedicated state and community leaders who continue to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to the well-being of Georgia’s citizens,” Deal said in a statement.

© 2017 by The Georgia Report



Tags: crossover day , David Ralston , Jeff Mullis , mass transit , Senate rules , state Board of Education