A chaotic rush to pass legislation larded with tax breaks ended the Georgia Legislature’s 2015 session.

As House members milled around and the celebratory mood rose to a wild cacophony, House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, pounded his gavel and asked Legislators to take their seats to consider one final proposal, House Bill 202.

In about two minutes, as the clock moved toward midnight and the traditional session’s end, the House approved the bill that included tax breaks for Mercedes-Benz employees and a small Baptist school in Cleveland, Ga.  The so-called “Christmas tree” bill, because of all the goodies stuffed into it, was then rushed to the Senate, which quickly approved it after midnight.

“For shame,” Rep. John Pezold, R-Fortson, mouthed to reporters staring in amazement from the glass-enclosed House press gallery. Both the House and Senate votes pushed the limits of rules on how long a conference committee report must be available for lawmakers to study.

In the House, the conference committee report was distributed to legislators shortly after 11 p.m., but Ralston ruled at about 11:45 p.m. that the lawmakers had received the required one hour to consider the complex bill, which originally dealt with automobile ad valorem tax procedures. 

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