Tennessee Spotlight has concerned itself with Policy and the People who are making the policies. But we are also concerned about Process. When we say Process, we mean the rules that apply to the organization of both Houses, the rules that control the moving of legislation, and the rules that protect those who abuse even these rules.
Here's a couple of observations.
When the General Assembly convenes, both Speakers have a sense of what legislation will be brought before the General Assembly, since many of the bills are left over from previous years, having been sent to Summer Study (Generally, the "Legislation Firing Squad") or pulled by the sponsor due to a lack of committee structure (We're talking about the people on the committees) to move the bill forward. In addition, they have an idea of the policy interests of the new members in the House and the Senate. They also have numerous individuals whispering in their ears about who the "dangerous" people in the Caucus are and how they need to be kept from doing any harm to the Caucus.
So, the Body convenes in the middle of January, holds a plenary session, takes some pictures, holds some press conferences, and then promptly dismisses for two weeks. After all, offices need to be shuffled (We're not sure why this has to be done now since the members have actually been in office since midnight of Election Night the previous November and such could easily be done by state workers needing something to do during the holiday lull.), political opponents need to be punished by moving them to the "basement", orientation for new members must take place (Once again, we've had seven weeks already to get this done fully.), and committees must be organized.
Oh, those committees.
You see, bills get started in committees. Each bill needs a caption to identify in what place in the Tennessee Code Annotated it need to fit. The House and Senate Clerks (Very Important People!) assign this path. The Clerks work for the Speakers and take their marching orders from them. So, if the Speakers see bills coming in that don't appear on their "sheets of music", the drama begins.
Must read if you live in Tennessee