What is Sine Die in Georgia?

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Over the course of the next few days, you may encounter the term Sine Die, especially if you’re following the Georgia legislature. In case you are unfamiliar or rusty on this Latin term and what it signifies, what follows is a quick refresher.

What is Sine Die?
Sine Die is the term used for the last day of the legislative session. In Georgia, the legislature meets for 40 days. Day 40 is Sine Die. It is the last day that a bill can pass. If it doesn’t pass by the end of day 40, it is effectively dead.

When is Sine Die?
For the 2018 legislative session, Sine Die is March 29.

How is Sine Die pronounced?
Sine Die is pronounced “Sigh-nee-die” by Georgia lawmakers, however that isn’t the correct pronunciation of the term. In Latin, it is “sina dia.”

What does Sine Die mean?
It means “without day.” State legislatures use this on their last day because they are quite literally without another day to work.

Hasn’t the legislature been meeting for more than 40 days?
The legislature has been in session since January. However, the 40 day rule applies to legislative days, not calendar days. A legislative day is any day the legislature is conducting business on the floor of the house or senate. It runs from gavel to gavel. Hold on to that thought for just a second.

What happens at midnight on Day 40?
Nothing. Midnight doesn’t mean anything in terms of legislative days. If the legislature is still in a marathon session at midnight on Sine Die, they can continue to work until they are officially adjourned. In Georgia, bills do not expire at the tick of a clock, but at the banging of a gavel. Some state legislatures do meet based on calendar days, but not this one.

When will these bills become law?
A bill that is passed by Sine Die isn’t automatically a law. The governor still has to weigh in and sign it or veto it. This year is Gov. Deal’s last year in office and he has reached his term limit, so he doesn’t necessarily have to go along with what the legislature passes. He likely will, but it does add a little bit more drama to the equation than most years.

What can we expect this year on Sine Die?
Crossover Day is usually a good predictor of how much legislative drama we will or won’t be treated to on Sine Die. This year, Crossover Day wasn’t particularly dramatic and there weren’t any big surprises. While you shouldn’t expect much flourish or filibustering this year, the major issue is going to be the regional transit bill. Both chambers have passed their version of the bill, but the two versions are going to have to be reconciled. Expect a final transit bill to pass, but not without some protest from legislators in Cobb and Gwinnett Counties.

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