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Sine Die 2013: A Time-Honored Tradition

March 28, 2013
Senators throw papers into the air, a tradition on Sine Die.

The last day of the legislative session, better known on Capitol Hill as Sine Die, is a lot like the last day of school. Everyone is excited the end has come; interns and aides fill the Senate chamber to ask senators for signatures while staffers and legislators settle in for a long and busy day. One thing is for certain - Sine Die is a marathon, not a sprint.

The term "Sine Die" comes from the Latin "without assigning a day for a further meeting or hearing.”  To declare Sine Die is to adjourn the legislative body for an indefinite period and signifies the end of the 40-day legislative session.

With more than 30 bills on today's calendar for the Senate alone, everyone is prepared to stay late into the night.  These 30 bills are not the only ones eligible for a vote; bills that have been tabled (set aside) also have the possibility of reappearing on the floor. 

Senate and House members will only take breaks to eat lunch and dinner, with the rest of the day devoted to doing the people’s business and passing important legislation.  The respective Chambers remain dedicated to debating and passing legislation while joint conference committees take place in other rooms so House and Senate members can determine a mutual comprise on more controversial pieces of legislation. 

This year marks my second Sine Die. As an aide last session, I was enamored by the atmosphere. This year, as a fulltime staffer, I have realized just how much work must be done before the midnight deadline. 

Since I work in the press office, we stay busy from 8 a.m. until midnight organizing media interviews, writing press releases and tracking legislation for our senators.  It is a long day and night filled with a great balance of fun and work.

The end of session means the beginning of a slower pace. The halls are not so full of life, and taking a day off is acceptable. The experience is unlike anything I’ve ever been involved in, and it is great to watch as the age-old tradition takes place before my eyes. The throwing of ripped paper and the synchronization of gaveling out between the two houses are memories I will carry with me throughout my life.

Although it is a busy day, Sine Die is an experience that I cherish and look forward to partaking in for years to come.

About the Author

Emily Williams, Communications Associate for the Georgia Senate Press OfficeEmily Williams is the Communications Associate for the Georgia State Senate Press Office. She is a graduate of Georgia Southern University (B.S. Public Relations) and previously served as the Senate Press Office’s legislative aide before joining the office full time. Emily completed internships with radio station 680 The Fan and Liz Lapidus Public Relations before joining the Senate staff.