Gov. Butch Otter is meeting with at least some legislative leaders this morning to discuss their standoff over the addition of underground “wings” to the state capitol, but Otter’s communications director, Mark Warbis, said Otter will be talking with many legislators informally about the issue. That’s how Otter works, Warbis said.
Otter issued a stop-work order on the capitol renovation project on Friday, just as construction workers had set up fences on the capitol grounds and were preparing for preliminary site work for the wings. Lawmakers debated for years before settling on the underground wing plan last year to expand the capitol, in which people straining to hear spill out of crowded hearing rooms whenever a legislative committee debates something important. The additions are part of a renovation of the historic, but deteriorating, capitol building that’s scheduled to be completed in time for the 2010 legislative session. Otter’s stop-work order has raised fears among legislators of throwing off both the schedule and the budget for the project, for which $130 million in bonds already have been sold.