Crunch time in Legislatorland?

Chas Sisk observes that with only four weeks or so to to before the targeted adjournment date of the 108th General Assembly, things could get a bit hectic at ‘crunch time’ in Legislatorland.

With about a month to go in this year’s session of the General Assembly, the next two weeks could turn out to be the most eventful of the year, as a number of debates come to a head at last. The state Senate and House face big decisions on issues such as methamphetamine abuse and medical marijuana, school vouchers and Common Core education standards, free tuition for community college students and in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants.

Legislative leaders hope to adjourn for the year in mid-April, and they already are beginning their final push toward the end. This week, several legislative committees and subcommittees plan to hold their final meetings for the year — a development that will force lawmakers to make a final call on many bills whose fates have been up in the air.

Chas sizes up most of the listed issues as more or less too close to call, but has a reasonable prediction on a couple of things.

The end of the session usually forces a day of reckoning for bills whose hopes have been dwindling. The House Health Subcommittee is expected to reject the Koozer-Kuhn Medical Cannabis Act, which would legalize marijuana for medicinal use, on Tuesday afternoon. Similarly, legislation that would offer in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants is likely to die, either in the House or Senate committees.

But the final weeks can also offer surprises. A bill to launch a study of a monorail connecting Murfreesboro and Nashville is supposed to get a hearing before the House Transportation Subcommittee adjourns for the year Wednesday. Legislation that would further lift restrictions on guns, limit the activities of unions, block the Affordable Care Act and prohibit open alcohol containers in cars also are on the agenda.

As lawmakers race to the end, the pace of debate will only speed up.