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Maine Lawmakers Sworn in Amid Traditional Pomp and Ceremony
12/06/2012   Reported By: Irwin Gratz

Yesterday's opening of Maine's 126th Legislature was long on formalities, and chock full of people - not only legislators, but family, friends, and of course lobbyists, who hung out yesterday morning in the rotunda between the House and Senate chambers as lawmakers were sworn in. Irwin Gratz was there.

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"I am Tina Soucy, owner of the Maine Lobbyist Service at the state capitol. I've been here for the past 10 years and this is a communication service between the governor's office, the House and the Senate. It helps to make things run a little more smoothly, with faxes, and helping the lobbyists get their messages moved forward."

Irwin Gratz: "Are you excited to have everybody back?

Tina Soucy: "I am. It's an exciting place. And as I've always said, there's a lot of neckties flying around. It's just a nice place to be. It's a long winter, and so here's hoping this year will be a positive move in a positive direction."

George Smith used to do a lot of lobbying for the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine. Now he mostly writes about public policy, But he was on hand yesterday to stay connected and play a role in one of the traditions of opening day. See, once upon a time, before legislative staff, somebody had to stoke the fire in the State House furnace.

"James Cote and I have agreed to be part of Sen. Saviello's family, because he doesn't have any in Maine," Smith says. "He's the Franklin County senator who is supposed to be stoking the fire, so he doesn't get sworn in with everybody else. He goes down for a private swearing-in in the governor's office, and believe it or not, I'm going with him."

Swearing in 1Legislators also lined up yesterday for one of the perks of their office: legislative license plates (Naples Democrat Christine Powers, with her mother, proudly holds hers, left.)

"They get very excited about it," says Nikki Bachelder of the state's Bureau of Motor Vehicles. "They enjoy having the plates. Some of them who don't wish to display the plates on their vehicles actually purchase the plates so they can have them for a momento."

New Legislative leaders had their own perks. New State Senate President Justin Alfond, of Portland, invited his rabbi to deliver the benediction. New House Speaker Mark Eves, of North Berwick, invited a fellow North Berwick resident to sing the national anthem.

Audio: Martin England singing the national anthem.

There were speeches, and votes for leadership and constitutional officers. Once that was done, the Legislature recessed for a month. It will reconvene in the first full week of January to begin the real business of legislating.

Photos by Irwing Gratz..



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