Political Insider

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Why it's past midnight on Sine Die and Georgia lawmakers are still going

It wasn’t so long ago that midnight was revered as the hard-and-fast deadline for the final day of Georgia’s legislative session. Sponsors would rush to pass bills before the stroke of midnight and opponents would filibuster. Once, a lawmaker almost broke his neck trying to stop the clock. Many a headline described a “race to midnight.”

Not so much anymore. The 2015 session might have set a new precedent. The witching hour came in the House, where lawmakers and their families and friends celebrated the adjournment by filling the room with scraps of confetti-like paper.

But Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle kept the state Senate in session, where lawmakers passed a range of tax breaks that included incentives for Mercedes-Benz’s new headquarters and a private Baptist college.

“For time eternal, this day has ended at midnight,” House Speaker David Ralston said at the time. “It is going to end at midnight today in the House even though I understand the other chamber may stay later.”

Our friends over at Politifact weighed in then with the ruling that lawmakers are free to press beyond midnight. “Lawmakers meet for 40 legislative days,” read the conclusion, “which end only when the chambers adjourn.”

It looks like lawmakers have happily heeded their advice. Last year's session went well beyond midnight, and this year's appears likely to do so as well.

More: Read all about other Sine Die shenanigans here.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.