The session is ticking. The clock on the wall above the Speaker's head whispers the two Latin words we simultaneously dread and welcome: "sine die." End of session. End of chances to get our bills heard. Time when all rushes, rules fly out the windows, heat on, tempers hot, phones ringing.
Now we all just feel it coming. Out of committees onto the overflowing calendar suddenly flow the toughest, most controversial proposals. These are not partisan bills necessarily but those which divide parties and constituencies and interests, divide communities, professions, classes and families.
How to tax.
Who to tax.
Who not to tax.
Who to license.
Who to regulate.
How much to regulate.
How much to pollute.
How much to prevent.
How to manage the many crises we've let accumulate.
And all this in the context of elections. Some live in fear, asking, "What could they say about me with this vote?" Some try to fit votes into frames of values and principles. Some don't even try, especially now. Some pull out calculators. Some go with gut. Some count calls and letters. Some call home.
The printer on the second floor shovels out paper, printing out vote tallies destined for use in elections. And it all spins on faster and faster rolling downhill now toward the end.