The 80 members of the California State Assembly, the state’s lower house, spent their final days in session following a tradition by playing Bingo. This game, however, isn’t a House of cards and numbers with the occasional “Bingo” yell. They don’t win, either. The rules of the game are simple: each member is assigned words or phrases they must use in their floor speeches.
One member, who is a physician in real life, was especially challenged when she was assigned the seven dwarfs. She was successful. In fact, her victory was tweeted: “she knocked her legislative Bingo out of the park!” The following day, she addressed workers’ compensation benefits with, “Has the Zombie Apocalypse started?” It may have seemed like an odd phrase because it precluded a spiel on partial disability that was permanent, claims fraud and applicant attorneys.
Other words and phrases assigned were Chucky Ducky, Will the Real Slim Shady Please Stand Up?, Kiss my Grits, Show Me the Money, Bieber Fever, Call Me Maybe, I got 99 problems, but this bill ain’t one and Hello, Newman. The game is called California Legislative Bingo. All day, Assembly members are tweeting back and forth, according to who said what, and dishing compliments. For the Call Me Maybe phrase last week, the member who said it received a mark on the legislative Bingo card via a tweet. On that day, 25 members had fulfilled their Bingo assignments by suppertime.
During this year’s legislative Bingo, a leader of a grass roots organization tweeted a question to the Assembly. He asked if the Senate participates in a such a game as well. One senator tweeted back that he didn’t think so because the Senate doesn’t talk enough to warrant a game of Bingo. The grass roots leader also wanted to find out which words and phrases were assigned to each member. It wasn’t clear if he did. Later, he tweeted the senator’s denial of Senate Bingo. Another side to the story was two assembly members had birthdays during the session’s final days.
While legislative Bingo is quite entertaining for not only assembly members, but the tweeting public as well, the game has a hidden motive. The last days in session for the assembly are long, and Bingo keeps them focused. It sustains their time, even as the clock creeps close to midnight. The assembly cracks itself up with phrases like, “Welcome to the Jungle,” causing a little fun mischief for the long days.
Legislative Bingo cards aren’t confined to the assembly. A web site has every kind of Bingo card imaginable, including the legislative version. More serious words and phrases like, approve treaties, conference committee, impeach, power of the purse and filibuster, along with significant numbers, are used. Still, several humorous quips stand out, which are specific to legislative bodies. Examples are gerrymandering, whip and hopper. Real word fans would most likely adopt the site’s other suggestions concerning the legislature, such as legislative crossword puzzles and word scrambles. There are also legislative flash cards and word searches.
Legislative Bingo for the assembly shouldn’t be confused with lawmakers discussing Bingo regulations. In the Kansas archived records, Legislative Bingo Cards was a topic, albeit a serious one. Words and phrases had no meaning in this session. Kansas was working on reviewing if its Bingo regulations were accommodated by state laws. “In respect to Bingo” was a phrase on the record.