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.