Legicrawler News : : June 2008
Keep an Eye Out for Special Sessions
Special sessions can catch you by surprise.
Some governors force an issue by calling them. Others resist pressure to do so.
In 1999, then-Gov. Bill Nelson said Nebraska legislators were trying to "stampede" him into a special session when they protested his veto of a bill.
If a stampede occurs, though, it may actually be in the form one party scrambling for the exits to avoid a quorum on a tough vote.
That happened just this month during New Hampshire's one-day special session, its first since 1989, as the Union Leader describes:
"At one point, the House was tied in knots, debating what rules it should follow for the session. Republicans staged a rush to the doors to deny Democrats enough members to conduct business, but Speaker of the House Terie Norelli ordered security to block the exits."
Too bad the Republicans couldn't find a nearby window to climb through. That was what their first president did in 1840 while serving as a Whig legislator in Illinois, according to numerous accounts.
The Democrats had locked the House door to enforce a quorum. Undaunted, Abraham Lincoln and two fellow Whigs fled through a window in an effort to thwart their political foes.
Special sessions won't always have that kind of excitement, but government relations personnel need to watch for them.
Following are some special session developments:
In Alaska, Republican Gov. Sarah Palin has signed the capital and operating budgets, but the legislature has been in special session to consider energy issues. The state is considering a license proposal for a natural gas pipeline.
Nevada will address budget issues in a special session from June 23-27.
Mississippi had been in special session for two weeks until leaders decided on June 4 that a recess might help resolve an impasse over Medicaid funding. The session is scheduled to reconvene on June 26.
Virginia has scheduled a special session on transportation beginning June 23.
Alabama recently concluded a special session to resolve education funding issues; the session also gave a tax deduction to small businesses that offer health insurance to employees. Another special session is possible if Volkswagon decides to open a plant in the state.
Connecticut held a brief special session on June 11, and Kentucky has scheduled one for June 23.
The South Carolina legislature is expected to address the budget for three days beginning on June 25. Meanwhile, Illinois bears watching because of unusual special sessions last summer and unresolved issues this year.
And, of course, Iowa may hold a special session to address flooding issues.
Stay on the alert for special sessions. To check on legislative schedules, click here.
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