Celebrations kick off new session

ATLANTA - The Georgia constitution might specify that the General Assembly must convene at 10 a.m. on the second Monday in January, but the traditional festivities surrounding the day almost seem to be requirements, too.


Even before the gavel sounds to bring lawmakers to order Monday, they'll enjoy the hospitality of lobbyists at the annual Wild Hog Supper across from the Capitol.

It's the first of a string of parties, cocktail receptions and barbecue dinners given over the next 40 evenings after the legislative work is done for the day.

And, this year, there will be more parties to celebrate career milestones for politicians.

Every legislator will be sworn in Monday, including newcomers Rep.-elect Doug McKillip, D-Athens; Sen.-elect Bill Cowsert, R-Athens; Rep.-elect Craig Gordon, D-Savannah; Rep.-elect Barbara Sims, R-Augusta; and Rep.-elect Wayne Howard, D-Augusta.

This year also includes the inauguration of a governor, a new lieutenant governor, a new secretary of state and all of the other statewide elected officials at 2 p.m. Monday, carried live on television.

Besides the inaugural gala Monday night, three events are highly anticipated this week.

First, the inaugural address by Gov. Sonny Perdue will set the tone for his second term.

Second, Tuesday morning will bring details about legislative agendas by Mr. Perdue, Lt. Gov.-elect Casey Cagle, Speaker Glenn Richardson, R-Hiram, and Senate President Pro Tempore Eric Johnson, R-Savannah.

They will each address the Georgia Chamber of Commerce annual Eggs & Issues breakfast, an event that often offers the first specifics on what the leaders plan for the legislative session.

The third anticipated event comes at noon Wednesday when Mr. Perdue delivers his state of the state address to a joint session of the House and Senate.

The Legislature will take the next week off to digest all the information.

The members of the House and Senate budget-writing committees - which constitutes slightly more than half of each chamber - will hold joint meetings during the off week to hear from the heads of the state's largest agencies on why they're requesting the spending levels contained in Mr. Perdue's budget blueprint.

After that week, lawmakers will return to daily sessions in the mornings and committee meetings in the afternoons.

Reach Walter Jones at (404) 589-8424 or walter.jones@morris.com.