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Senator Scott, PPT
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« on: May 24, 2017, 02:30:09 pm »
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I've noticed that most (all?) state legislatures in the US convene for maybe five or six-month intervals at a time, then recess for the rest of the year and reconvene the following January, rather than work throughout the year with brief recesses like Congress does.  Why is this, and how much power or duties do the executive branch/governors have when statehouses are not in session?
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« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2017, 02:37:47 pm »
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In Georgia, the General Assembly can meet for no more than forty days (!) in a session. Usually, they meet from January to late March/early April. Special sessions have been called on occasion by Governors in the summer and fall, but quite infrequently.

The main reason for this historically is that rural, agricultural areas held the greatest amount of power in the state government and could only afford to be away from their farms in the winter. As far as executive power goes, the Governor is a rather weak office as compared to some other states, and very little of note happens politically outside of the legislative session. 
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Senator Scott, PPT
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« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2017, 02:53:22 pm »
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In Georgia, the General Assembly can meet for no more than forty days (!) in a session. Usually, they meet from January to late March/early April. Special sessions have been called on occasion by Governors in the summer and fall, but quite infrequently.

The main reason for this historically is that rural, agricultural areas held the greatest amount of power in the state government and could only afford to be away from their farms in the winter. As far as executive power goes, the Governor is a rather weak office as compared to some other states, and very little of note happens politically outside of the legislative session. 

This sounds like the same rationale should apply to Congress historically, no?  What with Midwestern and Western congresspeople having to travel across the country during winters to get to DC.  Did Congress operate along the same lines at one point?
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Del Tachi
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« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2017, 03:42:18 pm »
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Serving in Congress is a full-time position that comes with a six-figure salary.

Most state legislatures compensate their members around $15,000 max.  Unless you have retirement income or are independently wealthy, that's not enough to really make a living so most state legislators have full-time professions as well.  That necessitates they have their legislative duties condensed into only a few weeks.

Full-time legislatures would necessitate full-time legislators, but I doubt many voters would be open to the idea of paying state legislators accordingly.
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« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2017, 04:16:35 pm »
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Until the ratification of the 20th Amendment in 1933, the Constitution mandated that congress being a new session in December of each year. Historically, this meant three sessions a term of varying length following a presidential election, and usually two in a midterm.

This became extremely cumbersome since the term began on March 4 following an election, but Congress would not convene for the first time until December, a full thirteen months following their election.
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« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2017, 10:23:06 am »
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In IL the legislative session matches the two-year term of House members. Effectively the main session runs from the second Wed in Jan until the end of May. That's because from June 1 one any bill effective before June 1 of the following year requires a 3/5 vote in each chamber. There's also a two week fall session scheduled to take up any vetoes issued by the Gov during the summer, though the veto session is not only for vetoes and functions like any other session day scheduled after May 31 as far as other business is concerned.
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« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2017, 08:11:41 pm »

Until the ratification of the 20th Amendment in 1933, the Constitution mandated that congress being a new session in December of each year. Historically, this meant three sessions a term of varying length following a presidential election, and usually two in a midterm.

This became extremely cumbersome since the term began on March 4 following an election, but Congress would not convene for the first time until December, a full thirteen months following their election.

Historically, until Congress outlawed the practice, some States chose to delay Congressional elections a year so that there would be only a one month gap instead of thirteen. Hence, when Lincoln called Congress into special session because of the slavers’ revolt, those States had to hold special elections to fill the seats.
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« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2017, 08:46:00 pm »
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They did indeed! Nineteenth century politics was thoroughly fascinating with regard to the Constitution.
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« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2017, 12:53:29 pm »
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Also interesting is the question why they often convene before the governor is sworn in? Congress does also, but that's probably to make sure the newly elected congress elects a president if necessary (EC deadlock). But in the states? In remember that there was some discussion in Pennsylvania in 2014, that outgoing Republican governor Tom Corbett would sign a law for liquor privatization. The measure narrowly failed in the previous Assembly because not enough Republicans supported it. After the 2014 elections, the GOP increased their number of seats what made it possible to use a time window before Democrat Tom Wolf was sworn is as governor. (The measure actually passed after the swearing-in, and Wolf then vetoed it).
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« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2017, 03:15:08 pm »
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RI does this, and also has one of the weakest governors.
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« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2017, 06:26:50 pm »
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Also interesting is the question why they often convene before the governor is sworn in? Congress does also, but that's probably to make sure the newly elected congress elects a president if necessary (EC deadlock). But in the states? In remember that there was some discussion in Pennsylvania in 2014, that outgoing Republican governor Tom Corbett would sign a law for liquor privatization. The measure narrowly failed in the previous Assembly because not enough Republicans supported it. After the 2014 elections, the GOP increased their number of seats what made it possible to use a time window before Democrat Tom Wolf was sworn is as governor. (The measure actually passed after the swearing-in, and Wolf then vetoed it).

In IL the Gov is usually sworn in before the legislature, but not always. The IL Const has the statewide offices sworn in on the 2nd Mon of Jan and the legislature on the 2nd Wed of Jan. The two day gap means that the lame duck legislature can take advantage of a new Gov if there is a controversial initiative.

If Jan 1 falls on Tue or Wed of a year with a new Gov, then the legislature is organized first. That last happened in 1991. It also will happen in 2019 after the next election. It means that the lame duck Dem legislature will not have a Dem Gov for two days, even if Rauner loses in 2018.
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