Georgia’s legislative session starts Monday as a new round of votes looms

Staffer Joseph Castleberry preps Senate binders for the last day of the session. Bob Andres,

Staffer Joseph Castleberry preps Senate binders for the session. Bob Andres,

It’s not an election year, but it might feel like one at the legislative session that starts this morning. And that could add an extra dose of intrigue during the 40-day session.

Yes, President-elect Donald Trump hasn’t even taken office, and more than a dozen recently elected lawmakers are ready to be sworn in. But it seems like the politicking has barely let up since November’s vote.

The jockeying for the 2018 governor’s race and a slate of statewide offices is well underway. A prominent Democrat is using his state Senate seat as a launching pad for November’s race for Atlanta mayor. And several sitting lawmakers are mulling a bid for an open U.S. House seat.

With contentious debates over illegal immigration crackdowns, a gun rights expansion and casino gambling in the mix, as well as more sweeping health and education policies, the angling for higher office is sure to factor into many votes, speeches and proposals.

“Legislating is always about herding cats,” University of Georgia political scientist Charles Bullock said, “but the cats might prove harder than ever to corral this year.”

More: Big elections will help define this legislative session

More AJC legislative coverage:

Your guide to Georgia’s 2017 legislative session

Nathan Deal doubles down on failing schools plan for 2017

AJC poll: Voters don’t favor return of religious liberty, gun bills

Results, crosstabs and other details from the AJC’s pre-session poll

In spite of support, Medicaid expansion in Georgia remains unlikely

Obamacare, transportation and snow on minds of top Georgia legislators

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