ATLANTA-- The Georgia legislature is "crossover day" Friday. It's the day legislation lives or dies -- except for when it doesn't. It's a day in which there's an unpredictable confluence between politics and the time / space continuum.
To become law, a bill has to pass two legislative chambers – the House and the Senate. By crossover day the bill has to pass in at least one chamber, before it can "cross over" to the other one-- or else it's (likely) dead for the year.
"I’m a music industry person. Learning the ropes over here has been completely whacky," said Mala Sharma, who has been lobbying for weeks on behalf of a bill that would give film-style tax credits to Georgia's music industry.
Crossover day is an important day on her calendar. Her bill has passed a House committee, and awaits a floor vote.
"Hope that on Friday we’ll get to a House floor vote. And get to cross over," Sharma said. If it doesn’t, her bill is all but dead.
This year, lawmakers have introduced more than 1600 pieces of legislation. Some, like the bill to legalize casino gambling, lay lifeless for lack of a committee vote. The senate’s religious freedom bill appears to be similarly lifeless. A bill to subject the state Pardons and Paroles Board died in committee.
Other bills have already crossed over and will live beyond Friday. Medical marijuana is alive and well; so is the bill allowing state intervention in troubled public schools;; likewise, the bill requiring a police investigation in college sexual assault cases; and the bill to allow breweries to sell directly to the public.
But Crossover Day will have plenty of drama. A bill to create an online registry of “criminal aliens” could get a vote Friday. So could a bill to give a big fuel tax break to Delta and other airlines at Hartsfield Jackson. The gun bill known as campus carry will almost certainly get a vote Friday. The music bill favored by Mala Sharma – well, she’ll find out Friday.
"Georgia grown (music) talent is here and we’re losing it. And we’ve been working really hard to get to this point. We’re happy to be at this point," Sharma said.
Bills that die on Crossover Day don’t really “die.” They sometimes reanimate as surprise amendments attached to other bills. They can also re-appear in 2018.