AUGUSTA – Every legislative session has its quirks. Here are a few memorable events that occurred while the 125th Legislature was in session:

Installation of security equipment at the State House entrance. After the scanners had spent years collecting dust in a State House closet, Republicans decided to spend the money necessary to get the scanners up and running and to hire the staff to monitor them. The $500,000 expense caused some grumbling, especially among Democrats who didn’t feel it was necessary. But Republicans said they wanted to ensure a safe environment, especially for the hundreds of schoolchildren who tour the facility each year.

The arrest of Rep. Fred Wintle, R-Garland, after he allegedly pulled a gun on a Morning Sentinel photographer in a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot last May. Wintle was apparently suffering from a mental illness at the time, according to his attorney, and resigned his seat in September. He recently pleaded guilty to a felony charge of criminal threatening and was sentenced to 45 days in jail.

The work of Democrats to spearhead a people’s veto of a law that sought to ban same-day voter registration. Republicans said they were trying to crack down on voter fraud by requiring voters to sign up at least two business days before an election. But Democrats successfully led a signature-gathering effort and got the law repealed, capturing 60 percent of the vote in November.

The Valentine’s Day upset victory in Senate District 20. It was widely assumed that Rep. Dana Dow, R-Waldoboro, would easily win the Senate seat being vacated by Republican David Trahan. But Democrat Chris Johnson turned out his voters and won the seat by several hundred votes. Democrats say it’s a sign that voters are frustrated with Republican rule, while Republicans say it was a quirky February election.

For the first time in a long time, Republicans got to pick the attorney general, treasurer and secretary of state. What’s surprising is that all three — William Schneider, Bruce Poliquin and Charlie Summers — decided to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Olympia Snowe. At least two, if not all three, will be back to their day jobs after the six-way June 12 primary.

The decision of Rep. Erin Herbig, D-Belfast, to file a request for a protection-from-abuse order against fellow lawmaker Rep. Alex Cornell du Houx, D-Brunswick. Herbig accused Cornell du Houx of stalking her after their relationship ended, but the matter was dropped after the two reached a confidential agreement.

 

– Susan Cover