March 24 (UPI) -- A lawmaker's popcorn machine was removed from the North Dakota Capitol after it set off fire alarms twice in one day, officials said.
The Capitol's legislative wing was evacuated twice Monday, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, after fire alarms were triggered by a popcorn machine brought in by Rep. Mary Johnson, R-Fargo.
Facility Management Director John Boyle said the Bismark Fire Department responded to both calls.
Johnson said she had been unaware of a 32-year-old policy from the Office of Management and Policy that bans popcorn machines and other cooking devices from being used outside of the Capitol Cafe. The policy was designed to prevent fire alarms from being triggered, Boyle said.
House Majority Leader Chet Pollert, R-Carrington, said the popcorn machine was meant to be a treat for House Republicans. He told the Bismark Tribune the caucus had been "a little strained" due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent expulsion of former representative Luke Simons, R-Dickinson, who was accused of workplace and sexual harassment.
"Popcorn cheers people up for a reason," Pollert said. "And now it's gone, and that's the way it goes."