Betting pools will begin this week as staffers and lawmakers try to predict the date and time of adjournment.

House Speaker Robert Nutting, R-Oakland, informed the House last week that there will be no session today, and that the rest of the week is anyone’s guess. The budget will be the big item on the agenda, but there will be other bills to debate as well.

Statutory adjournment is Wednesday, and legislators’ pay stopped last week.

The Legislature rarely adjourns for the year during daylight hours. And conventional wisdom is “in on Monday, out on Friday,” meaning a mid-week adjournment is unlikely.

Records show other odd-numbered year adjournments have been 2:09 a.m. (2009), 10:26 p.m. (2007), 3:03 a.m. (2005), 3:55 a.m. (2003) and 1:16 a.m. (2001).

Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston, guessed that, this year, it will happen Thursday night.

“I would hope to be 6 p.m., but probably 11 p.m.,” she said.

Sen. Tom Saviello, R-Wilton, guessed 2 a.m. Friday.

Portland Regional Chamber Vice President Chris Hall said 11:35 p.m. Wednesday.

“It’s going to be on time because the presiding officers have said so,” he said.

Rep. Jonathan McKane, R-Newcastle, guessed midnight Wednesday.

And Matt Dunlap, a former lawmaker who is now executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, first offered a very pessimistic opinion.

“They’ll be forming a committee to supervise the decoration of the building for Christmas,” he said.

Really?

He then revised his guess: “End of June.”

END-OF-SESSION REMINDERS

Nutting and House Clerk Heather Priest offered some reminders to members Friday as they entered the final days of the session.

Priest warned that while it may seem like fun to steal someone’s notepad and send out messages, it can have “cruel and unintentional consequences.” She also suggested that members might want to take time to read the Mason’s manual this summer to help them better understand House procedure.

Nutting said he has tried to be lenient when it comes to debate, but he will crack down from now on. In particular, House rules say all comments are to be directed to the speaker. Nutting said he wants to avoid finger-pointing across the aisle and representatives who are speaking should at least have their “torso facing the rostrum.”

“As we wind down this last week, tempers will get a little shorter,” he said.

MAINE TO STAR IN SCREENPLAY

Fed up with the poor job that Washington politicians have done running the country, the independent people of Maine decide to secede from the United States. What starts out as a joke by three University of Maine students stirs deep discontent across the state, leading to outright revolution as Maine tries to become part of Canada.

That’s the pitch for a screenplay written by New York City screenwriter Daniel Turkewitz.

Turkewitz says a few production companies are reading his 109-page script.

In 2006, during his research for the comedy, Turkewitz wrote to members of the U.S. Supreme Court and asked if states could legally secede, since his screenplay features a big showdown in the Supreme Court.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote back, saying the issue has been resolved by the Civil War and secession supporters have no legal options.

Scalia’s comments were picked up by several national newspapers and became a subject of debate on “Hardball” with Chris Matthews on MSNBC.

Turkewitz says he can’t imagine that people in Maine would actually try to join Canada, but that his research into the state’s political culture has uncovered a secessionist spirit.

“I found all sorts of stories about towns trying to secede from whatever affiliations they have with other parts of Maine,” he said.

LePAGE DEMANDS LOWER FEE

Brent Littlefield, Gov. Paul LePage’s political adviser, was in the State House last week talking about his boss’s penchant for reading the fine print before he signs any bills.

Case in point?

L.D. 878, which was recalled from the governor’s desk, allows for temporary licenses to operate dance establishments. LePage didn’t object to the content of the bill, Littlefield said, but he didn’t like the $100 fee for the temporary license. He sent it back and asked lawmakers to lower the fee to $25. It has been amended to reflect his wish.

“It shows his mindset,” Littlefield said. “He reads every bill and is looking for ways to lower costs for Mainers and businesses.”

DNA BILL CLOSE TO PASSAGE

The House and Senate have both voted to pass L.D. 1143, which would require anyone who is charged with a sex crime against a child or a violent felony to submit to a DNA test at the time of arrest.

It’s sponsored by Rep. Maeghan Maloney, D-Augusta, who called DNA “the fingerprint of the 21st century.”

“DNA evidence makes it very difficult to be a successful criminal — that’s OK with me,” she said in a statement.

NEW POLICY ADVISER

Katrin Teel of Bangor has been hired to serve as senior health policy adviser to LePage, the governor’s office announced.

Teel was described as “an experienced administrator, registered nurse and college instructor.” She replaces Mary Mayhew, who left the inner circle of the administration to become commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Like LePage, Teel is a graduate of Husson University. She has volunteered on nine missions to Latin America, and “served as an operating room nurse, set up teaching programs on women’s health, participated in a pilot program to provide health care in remote Indian communities in the Ecuadorian jungle, taught as a nurse educator in Bolivian schools, and worked with HIV positive orphans in the Dominican Republic.”

MaineToday Media State House Writers Susan Cover and Tom Bell contributed to this column.