Pre-Dawn In Capitol SquareJan 11, 2011
Capitol Square is busy in spurts today. Lawmakers and their staffs reacquaint themselves with the General Assembly Building, but it's still sparse. Then, at Mr. Jefferson's capitol, a herd of pages noisily rumble by, interrupting a tour. Outside it's cold, but not bad, as the predicted storm never materialized. Lobbyists comb Capitol Square looking for legislators to get in some early words. Making pre-session courtesy calls is important. The General Assembly, after all, is about relationships and it's never going to be this serene. Nor as congenial. As the pace picks up (almost immediately) nerves gradually fray and stress mounts non-stop until the Sine Die gavel is brought down.
Meanwhile, as you peak into conference rooms that will morph into slammed packed sub-committee rooms in a couple of days, you see other lobbyists huddled, strategizing. Many give you a knowing look, a smile, familiar nods, unexpected hellos and happy New Year wishes. There are lobbyists giving literal meaning to their profession, hanging out in a lobby outside a lawmaker's office, waiting patiently. As if expecting them, Delegate Jim LeMunyon (R-67, Chantilly) had a tray of muffins, scones and pastries outside his office. We now have an official GA bakery.
Delegates pass you by on the way to the elevator (or to a restroom) and say hello. The mini-reunions are refreshing — it's nice to be recognized — and networking is always a benefit.
There is some practical business to be done. Lobbyist IDs need to be updated and the General Assembly operations guys are the best. Easy going, affable, eager and always prepared to help. Need that 2011 sticker on your ID? Got it for you, and how are you doing? Great to see you again.
Impromptu meetings with certain staff to get the lay of the land for some bills leads to running into staff from the Attorney General's office. More strategy time. That's just the way it happens. Scurrying through the GAB inevitably leads to making connections because everyone has the same thing on their minds. It's organized chaos. One legislative staffer is starting a news service to cover the General Assembly. Not an easy task while making the trains run on time for her boss.
It's pre-dawn in Capitol Square. Not in a chronilogical or meteorlogical sense. But the dawn of a 45-day-legislative whirlwind.