"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Day After the Big Day

The answer to Ron's question about whether I'll have an office at the State House: no, indeed. Senators have one, and the House leadership do, but not ordinary Representatives. I am, however, entitled to a locker--either in the State House or in the Legislative Office Building, where the committees have their meetings. I opted for the latter. I also have a mailbox in the lobby outside the chamber.

On Tuesday afternoon before my meetings with the Bishop and his Canon and others, I walked the two blocks to the State House to drop off paperwork. The building was very, very quiet and empty, except for the workers setting up the platform for television cameras in Representatives Hall. The calm before the storm was palpable! I went into the Hall and played Goldilocks, trying out specific seats so I could fill in and submit my seating choice. I made my selection based on the view from the window, and proximity to the rear exit.

Here's the little capitol icon, indicating a report of my State House activities. In future they're unlikely to be so detailed.

I arrived at the State House at 10 AM for our Party Caucus and took my pre-assigned seat in Representatives Hall. (The assignment was specific to Organization Day...seats for the session haven't been assigned yet.) We listened to pitches from the three candidates for State Treasurer. The Governor stopped by to say hello and congratulations--as he always does. Our presumptive Speaker-elect gave us a preview of the schedule for the day. I was sandwiched between two veteran legislators, and both were helpful and informative. Lots of the party leadership were in our division (seating section).

We broke for lunch--and to allow staff to make necessary preparations for the afternoon session. The four Reps from my district crossed the street to the Barley House, along with almost everybody else!

On my way back to the Hall, I saw one of the Chap's colleagues--a group from his office was there and so was he. Just before the festivities began, I spied him up in the Gallery.

Everyone was so friendly and welcoming--even members of the minority party. I had a chance to chat with a member of a committee at the top of my list of choices.

At 1 PM we assembled in Representatives Hall for Organization Day. By "we" I mean all the State Representatives from both parties--my first time seeing the chamber when it is entirely filled. The Clerk presided, and began with the Call of the Roll. We'd been warned that this takes about 20 minutes--there are 400 of us, after all!--and that estimate proved true.

The Governor returned with the five-member Executive Council--the current Council, because its new members won't be sworn in till Inauguration Day in January.

The Governor administered the Representatives' Oath of Office, and we responded as a body. The Oath dates from 1784. Then he and the Council withdrew, and we elected the Speaker (a foregone conclusion; female). Then we elected the House Clerk (ditto; unopposed incumbent; female). Then we elected our Sergeant-at-Arms (ditto; ditto; ditto). They were duly sworn in.

The 24 members of the State Senate were admitted for a joint session to elect two state office holders. The President of the Senate (female) joined the Speaker on her perch.

Next came nominations and the election of the Secretary of State (unopposed incumbent; male).

We heard nomination and seconding speeches for the State Treasurer--three candidates, 1 female, 2 male. This was a vote by ballot, so all 400 of us and the Senators had to fill in a paper ballot and drop it into one of the ballot boxes, organised by alphabet. Needless to say, this took some time. After voting I stepped out for a drink of water and ran into the Chap. I also spotted some of my acquaintances in the press.

We now have a female State Treasurer, she garnered an impressive majority. Chicks totally rule!

The Senate withdrew to their Chamber, which adjoins ours. We conducted some House business. Members made annoucements, mostly about County Delegation meetings.

The session ended about 5 PM--it was dark outside. With one of my district colleagues, I attended a reception at the Capitol Grille but we didn't linger. It had been a very long day.

We meet again on January 3rd for the first official day of the session, and on January 4th for Inauguration Day (Governor and Executive Council). On those days we also receive our special licence plates, transponders for passing through tollbooths, and our Photo ID's.

Next week: my first County Delegation Meeting.


I arrived at the Lodge only a few minutes after the Chap did. We hastened to the church where he had a meeting and I assembled photos of our parishioners on display boards.

As soon as we returned home, I poured a glass of wine, curled up on the sofa with Ruth sprawled across my lap and Lola napping on the carpet. The Chap and I shared our impressions of this momentous day. I was exhausted but exhilarated.

For the time being, matters seasonal rather than policital will be my focus. Christmas is coming! Cards will go out this weekend. We'll go to the tree farm to cut our tree. I'm eager to decorate the house. I need to plan menus--we're doing some light entertaining over the next fortnight. (Our schedules are too complex for throwing a large holiday party, as we used to do).

Today I'll head to the city to for a bit of shopping. I was planning to stay home and luxuriate in the silence and solitude of the Lodge--after spending most of yesterday with at least 600 people (the total includes the Reps, the Senators, the staff, witnesses in the gallery, the press, the lobbyists....)

However, the weather is taking a turn for the worse later today--precipitation and frigid temperatures. Tonight and tomorrow the wind chill is supposed to be -10 degrees. I find that hard to believe. Nontheless, I've decided tomorrow is the better day for staying home and slacking off and curling up with a good book!

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