It’s a legislative tradition unlike any other. Every year in the Georgia General Assembly, as soon as Crossover Day passes, the House and the Senate engage in a choreographed effort to define the other chamber as a bunch of layabouts.
Take last week. Lawmakers met for three days and accomplished very little. Each chamber passed a handful of mostly minor bills. House leaders took notice that, although the Senate insisted it needed two days last week for committees to meet and consider House bills, most either didn’t meet or were cancelled.
“Is it true? I’m sure it’s not, I’m sure it’s an unfounded piece of fake news — tell me did the Senate cancel six committee hearings over the course of the two days we were supposed to have committee meetings?” House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, asked his chamber on Thursday. “We’re going to appoint a special investigator to find out if that’s true.”
It’s not like the House was going full tilt itself. Yes, there were meetings held on the House side on Tuesday and Wednesday. But many of the key committees did not meet last week. House leaders, too, put relatively few Senate bills on the floor last week — although Rules Committee Chairman John Meadows, R-Calhoun, said that was in part because of the Senate’s laziness.
“If they don’t help us there’s no way we can help them,” Meadows thundered at Thursday’s meeting.
On Friday, his counterpart reciprocated from the floor of the Senate.
“I think it’s time for each committee chair to make sure that House members know that the Senate legislation is a priority,” bellowed Senate Rules Committee Chairman Jeff Mullis, R-Chickamauga.
“It’s prime, premium legislation and it needs to go forward to help the great state of Georgia,” Mullis said, before addressing Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who was presiding over the chamber. “Mr. President, I hope this message is broadcasted and heard from coast to coast because we mean serious business here in the great Senate.”
Later Friday in Rules, as members considered a calendar for today that ended up including only two minor House bills, Mullis again encouraged House members attending the meeting to go back to their chamber and spread the word.
“There are a good many bills we fear will perish” if they are not moved forward, he said. “We always do more than you and I hope that would not end,” he said.
It was a heck of a message, given Mullis’ grand entrances into his committee meetings over the past few days. They include music as well as grand introductions by Senate Sergeant of Arms John Long.
Take a look at Friday’s entrance, with included Long and AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell:”
Nine days remain in the 2017 session, with Sine Die scheduled for March 30.