AUGUSTA — Two big things are happening Thursday.

First, you can expect lines at the post office as people mail their tax returns.

Second, the Tax Day Tea Party is scheduled for 3 to 7 p.m. in Capitol Park.

“This is Augusta’s warning,” according to a news release on the event. “If they keep up the nonsense, the wasteful spending of our sweat money, their meddlesome laws that trespass upon our unalienable rights, their schemes and experiments with our lives, they will be voted out next November. OUT!”

The release came from Pete Harring of www.MaineReFounders.org. It also advises those who attend to bring “protest signs in good taste, warm clothing and your flag.”

This brought to mind one of the questions that came up Thursday at a Republican gubernatorial forum held in Augusta. An audience member asked the panel of three GOP candidates and two independents to comment on the tea party movement.

“If you think Sarah Palin is more in touch with the real world than Nancy Pelosi, you could be a member of the tea party,” said Republican Les Otten. “They are awakening America to some of the debt and government excesses.”

Unenrolled candidate John Whitcomb said that “Maine is fed up with Republicans and Democrats.”

“The tea party is out there getting their voices heard,” he said. “We all need to open our eyes and make a change.”

GOODBYES AND GOOFINESS

Lawmakers in the House said their goodbyes late Wednesday when they assumed the session would end within hours.

They held a “light ceremony” where they bid farewell to those members who are either termed out or not running again. Leaders of both parties said kind words about each other.

Rep. Walter Wheeler, D-Kittery, posed in the front of the House with members of his family. The senior member of the House, who is in his mid-80s, is termed out.

Things also got a little silly. Rep. Meredith Strang Burgess, R-Cumberland, put on pink bunny ears and walked around with stuffed ducks saying she “had all her ducks in a row.”

A group gathered around one of the windows in the back to look at a rainbow, leading a Democrat to wonder if a pot of gold — or a bond package — was at the end of it.

And earlier in the day, House Speaker Hannah Pingree, D-North Haven, issued a warning to make sure people didn’t get too carried away when she heard some members were sending notes on other people’s stationery.

“That is not behavior becoming of members of the House of Representatives,” she said. “I ask you to refrain so we can get through this day and end on a positive note.”

The session is expected to end today, tonight or early Tuesday.

PUSH FOR FEDERALLY FUNDED JOBS

The Maine People’s Alliance brought a group of people together last week to urge federal passage of the “Local Jobs for America Act.”

They stood near the monument of a Civilian Conservation Corps worker outside the state museum to promote the bill, which would create a federally funded public jobs program.

“The Works Progress Administration put thousands of Mainers to work during desperate times,” said Lewiston Mayor Larry Gilbert. “Now as much as then, we need a public jobs program funded by the federal government.”

BIGGER BREAK FOR VETS PUT OFF

Rep. Joan Nass, R-Acton, sponsored a bill that would have increased the property tax exemption for veterans from $6,000 to $7,000, but the bill was amended to become a study group, according to the House Republican Office.

“I was somewhat disappointed that we didn’t immediately achieve the goal of giving veterans a better property-tax break,” she said in a written statement.

The Bureau of Revenue Services will convene the work group and come back with recommendations to the Taxation Committee by January.

MILLS WEARS A DIFFERENT HAT

A couple of weeks back, I wrote about “The Colbert Report” coming to Maine to interview Attorney General Janet Mills about a verbal opinion issued by her office that Fentimans Victorian Lemonade should not be sold to minors because it has a trace amount of alcohol.

Mills wore her Colbert ball cap to the State House last week and spread the word that the segment had aired.

The segment is called “Nailed ‘Em — Fentimans Victorian Lemonade” and can be found at www.colbertnation.com.

ON TO THE GOVERNOR’S RACE

People often ask me what I do when the Legislature isn’t in session.

This year, the answer is easy: There’s a governor’s race to cover! That means State House Notes will return next week with a new focus on the men and women who want to be our next governor.

 

MaineToday Media State House Reporter Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at:

scover@centralmaine.com