AUGUSTA — Lawmakers finishing up business for the session bestowed “honors” on their colleagues last week, and enjoyed a comedy routine by Gary Crocker.

Crocker, a West Gardiner comedian, community college lobbyist and ardent Moxie fan, told jokes in the House wearing a blaze orange shirt and holding a stuffed toy lobster. Crocker has been a House performer in years past, helping to pass the time as lawmakers wait for paperwork.

Over in the Senate, they created their own fun, by handing out “senate superlatives.”

Sen. Bill Diamond, D-Windham, did the honors, starting things off by teasing Assistant Senate Majority Leader Debra Plowman, R-Hampden, about recent voting legislation, saying they couldn’t let her vote on the superlatives.

“Sen. Plowman forgot her ID,” he said. “She left and came back to vote again, but of course it was the same day, so we couldn’t let her vote. She did say she came on a bus.”

(One bill, which was carried over, would have required voters to present an ID. The other, which has been signed into law, prevents same-day voter registration.)


Diamond then presented about 10 senate superlatives, which included:

Most Serious: Sen. Richard Rosen, R-Bucksport

Class Clown: Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick

Most Likely to Use a Mirror: Sen. Barry Hobbins, D-Saco

Best President Pro Tem: Sen. Chris Rector, R-Thomaston

Windbag: Sen. Elizabeth Schneider, D-Orono


The Senate officially adjourned at 7:46 p.m. Wednesday, a rare daylight end to a long legislative session.

Long session?

Speaking of the June 29 adjournment, House Democrats in recent weeks have taken a few jabs at the new Republican majority for extending the session three days beyond statutory adjournment.

The GOP had set an ambitious goal of ending a week early, which would have been June 8. Because they missed that deadline — and met for three days past statutory adjournment of June 15 — it cost $178,900, according to the executive director’s office.

House Speaker Bob Nutting, R-Oakland, said it’s not fair to criticize the new Republican majority. He said debates took far longer than anticipated.

“They were lengthy, almost to the point of painful,” he said.


Also, leadership tried to give regular breaks for food and to not work until the wee hours of the morning.

“We tried to give people a break for lunch and a break for dinner,” he said. “It seemed like a more humane thing to do. Combine that with people who like to talk, and we ended up three days over.”

Looking to next year, Nutting said he wants to take a hard line on what types of bills are allowed to be considered during the shorter session. They are supposed to be emergencies, but in years past the definition of emergency has been liberally construed. Already, the Legislature has carried over twice the normal number of bills.

“I expect to be fairly stringent about bills we let in so we get out on time next time,” he said.

Cutler stays active

Independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler, who finished second in the 2010 election, is preparing to officially launch OneMaine (, a group for political moderates, according to an email.


“OneMaine stems from the momentum and energy that was built during Eliot’s campaign for governor, a campaign that rallied people from every corner of Maine around the ideals of governing from the center, thinking strategically, and creating fundamental and sustainable change,” the website states.

They’ve already got more than 1,000 fans on Facebook and of course, are asking for contributions.

LePage to sign bill today

Before he takes part in the Eastport 4th of July parade today, Gov. Paul LePage will sign L.D. 1274 “An Act to Restore Equity in Education,” according to his office.

Senate President Kevin Raye, R-Perry, sponsored the bill to shift more state education funding to rural areas. The bill was controversial — those who represent cities say they will lose money in the future — but Raye said it was a necessary step to correct an imbalance that was unfair to small, rural schools.

Senate retirements


The Senate Secretary’s Office recently lost two key players — Judi Delfranco, who worked for the Senate for 23 years, and Bonnie Gould, assistant Senate secretary.

Delfranco, of Fairfield, stayed in her post during the transition from Democratic to Republican rule.

“During her tenure at the Secretary of the Senate’s office, Judi has been invaluable in helping to keep the workings of the Senate running smoothly and is highly esteemed throughout the State House,” a joint order honoring her read.

Gould, a former Republican House member, was in state service for fewer than five years, so she wasn’t eligible for an official sentiment. But Senate President Kevin Raye, R-Perry, gave her an unofficial sendoff.

“Bonnie prefers to be called empress,” he said in off the record remarks in the Senate chamber. “The best way to describe Bonnie is, she’s all that and a bag of chips.”

They presented her with a plastic tiara and joked that she would be joining the “prestigious Fryeburg law firm of Dewey, Cheatem and Howe.”


Actually, Gould, an attorney, will join the law office of Sen. David Hastings, R-Fryeburg, in the fall, she said.

Wardens to the rescue

The Maine Warden Service has already conducted more than 100 search-and-rescue missions since April 1, according to a release issued last week.

The 116 searches made so far puts it on track to reach its annual average of 480, according to the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Lt. Kevin Adam, Maine Warden Service search-and-rescue coordinator, said search requests go up as the weather improves. He said in addition to assisting boaters, hikers and helping find missing children, wardens also make searches for people suffering from illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s and autism and those who are suicidal.

Search-and-rescue missions cost the state about $300,000 annually, but have been as high as $400,000, depending on the number of cases and their complexity, according to the release. The costs are born by the Maine Warden Service and DIFW. The costs have been a strain on the department, which receives most of its funding through license fees. An effort to amend the Maine Constitution to dedicate some general fund resources to the agency failed at the very end of this legislative session.

Adam recommended those exploring Maine’s outdoors to be prepared and use care.

State House Bureau writers Susan Cover and Rebekah Metzler contributed to this column.

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