It turns out that the morning’s delayed session was due to a power outage in the building (I had just assumed they weren’t powering the part I was in so early in the day). The Capitol and Temple of Justice both run on the public power grid and are susceptible to its vagaries, as I’ve discovered in visits to both. At least it gives decisionmakers a sense of urgency about fixing the dismal state of electrification in the country.
After waiting until about 10:15, I decided to head back to the Ministry to get a bit of work done. Around noon I caught a ride back up the hill again, hoping to catch some of the afternoon session. I arrived to discover that both houses were in closed session (secret session according to some). Though the doors were closed, prying ears could pretty clearly have picked out the gist of the conversation, since most of it was yelled. Unfortunately, the Senate went straight from closed session to adjournment for the day, so I pinned my hopes on the House.
Walking back through the room I sat in earlier in the morning (apparently the joint chamber, not that of either house), I came across a group of what I assume were UofL students, all yelling in another heated argument. And when I say yelling, I really do mean yelling. From our joint internship experiences here, we’ve all discovered that this is an incredibly common phenomenon, whether in government summits, NGO meetings or budget planning sessions. Disagreements on all sorts of issues quickly escalate to yelling matches, eventually subside, and every one walks away fine, though resolution to the problem is almost never reached. It’s totally perplexing, though perhaps preferable to superficial comity followed by backstabbing and trickery. [It turns out, upon further investigation, that the group was actually the Capitol press corps, not college students. Needless to say, the press corps here is quite young].
The House ended up going straight from closed session to adjournment, so there was no session for me. Blargh, but at least I didn’t drive all the way to Sacramento just to have a hearing cancelled. I was, however, asked twice whether I’m with NDI (once by a local intern and once by the deputy chief clerk), which gives a pretty good impression about their presence here, or at least gives me an idea about the paucity of other groups working the legislative side of things. Oh that I were with NDI.