Photos: Patience and pizza — Staying up late with the 126th Legislature

Lawmakers await the next action during the final regular session day of the 126th Legislature on April 17, 2014. BDN photo by Mario Moretto.

Lawmakers await the next action during the final regular session day of the 126th Legislature on April 17, 2014.

Last night was the last regular session day of the 126th Legislature. Lawmakers arrived early in the day prepared for a triple-session that started Thursday morning and lasted until about 1 a.m. Friday.

While members of the House and Senate will return at least once to take up veto override votes, and could potentially be called back into session by Gov. Paul LePage, the Thursday-into-Friday session cleared its calendar of any new business until after November’s elections.

This was my first run covering a legislative session, and so my first time covering one of these late-night outings. The marathon sessions oscillated between periods of rapid-fire legislating and extended down time between votes, when rank-and-file lawmakers await last-minute negotiations and, sometimes, the physical process of filing and moving paper between the chambers and legislative staff.

Most of the bills have already been debated. Cases have already been made and minds made up. So between votes and during breaks, everyone is finding ways to keep busy – chitchat in the halls, checking emails, watching videos online or even short naps. Others passed the time with music. At various points a string quartet could be heard, or a lone fiddle, of a voice.

At least part of the reason we were there so late was because many issues had to be negotiated, at length, before the final roll was called. So, when it was finally time to vote, most of the dies had already been cast. At times, it felt like a mere formality, albeit a relatively smooth one.

At the end of the night, lawmakers and staff shook hands, patted each other on the backs and said goodbye. I even saw a few selfies being shot — we may have been in a 19th century building, but it was still a 21st century world.

Most people, though, were quick to get out of the building. It was late, and many had long drives ahead.

Here’s some photos.

State Sen. Emily Cain, D-Orono, sings at the State House during a break in the last night of session. At the keys is the senate president's chief of staff, Michael LeVert. Instagram by Mario Moretto.

State Sen. Emily Cain, D-Orono, sings at the State House during a break in the last night of session. At the keys is the senate president’s chief of staff, Michael LeVert.

Like any good work session -- or party -- that lasts into the small hours, the last regular day of the 126th Legislature involved lots of Pizza. BDN Instagram by Mario Moretto.

When you’re stuck in the State House for hours, it can be easier if food comes to you. This is nowhere near all the pizza that was consumed last night.

Members of House Speaker Mark Eves' staff watch the votes roll in from his office during the last regular night of the 126th Legislature on April 17, 2014. Instagram by Mario Moretto.

Members of House Speaker Mark Eves’ staff watch the votes roll in from his office on Thursday night.

Members of the Maine Senate applaud staff as they wrap up the 126th Legislature around 1 a.m. on April 18, 2014. BDN Instagram by Mario Moretto.

Members of the Maine Senate applaud staff as they wrap up the 126th Legislature around 1 a.m. Friday.

The eastern exterior of the Maine State House on April 17, 2014. BDN Instagram by Mario Moretto.

The eastern exterior of the Maine State House shortly before the Legislature ended its work early Friday morning.

Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House.