Granted, this session, there has been much less ebb than flow. But that is quickly changing. With the March 6 deadline to pass bills out of committee in the original chamber quickly approaching, things are beginning to move at a much quicker pace.
But in general, a visitor thus far this session to the state Capitol would have been fortunate or unfortunate - depending on one's perspective - to see the House and Senate in their respective chambers taking up bills.
The number of bills passed by the two chambers can still be literally counted on one's fingers. But over the past week - and intensifying this week - countless House and Senate committees are meeting in every nook and cranny of this grand building to take up legislation.
The action in the two chambers still has been sparse, but that does not mean legislators have not been working in committees in recent days.
If a bill does not pass out of committee by Tuesday, it is dead. As long as the bill is passed out of committee in one chamber and makes it to the floor, the issue contained in that legislation lives.
In some instances, such as with charter schools, it appears the House will have its bill and the Senate will have its proposal. They are similar. But at some point in the process, the leaders will have to decide which bill to pass and enact into law - assuming there are the votes to do that. And the membership as a whole will have to decide the final content of the legislation. To do that at some point late in the process, more than likely a conference committee consisting of three members from each chamber will be formed to hammer out the differences.
Of course, that usually occurs late in the session. Before then, one chamber could agree to accept the version of the bill passed by the other house, avoid the conference committee process and send the proposal to the governor. It is not uncommon for that to happen, but in more instances a conference committee is formed to work out the differences.
But normally, the conference committees happen late in the legislative session.
Starting after Tuesday's committee deadline, for about a week, both the House and Senate will be in their chambers all day taking up the literally hundreds of bills passed out of committee.
After the two chambers finish that process, they will return to their committees where the Senate panels will take up the bills that passed the House and vice versa. During this process, the two chambers also will begin work in earnest on budget and revenue bills.
That leads, thankfully, to the final days of the session and the conferencing process.
Each deadline in effect whittles down the hundreds of bills introduced each session.
The point is that sometimes a visitor to the Capitol might look around and think the Legislature is not doing anything when in reality it is. Granted, sometimes it is not.
As stated, this week the two houses will spend little time in their actual chambers. But they are very busy.
And true, they could have been taking up some of this legislation before this week - when they were not busy at all - to ease the time crunch.
It seems, though, that legislators are like most of us and have a tendency to procrastinate. We all do it. Nothing spurs a person to action like the specter of a deadline.
Oh by the way, in the midst of all these upcoming deadlines, the Legislature still has to redraw House and Senate districts lines to match population shifts discovered by the 2010 census. Officially, the committee that deals with redistricting has yet to meet.
But that committee's deadline is the end of the session, which is not scheduled until May. In other words, the deadline is too far away to spur them to act.
Bobby Harrison is the Daily Journal's Capitol Bureau Chief. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (601) 353-3119.