The Reason This Popcorn Machine Was Removed From A Government Building

Lawmakers at the North Dakota Capitol were just trying to brighten up the office with some freshly made snacks. In an effort to bring some cheer and friendly camaraderie to their coworkers, House Republicans brought a popcorn machine into the Capitol building earlier this week. The apparent idea was to give representatives the chance to take a break and enjoy some freshly popped popcorn during their workdays, which, as one can imagine, have been quite stressful as of late. In fact, House Majority Leader Chet Pollert has recently described the House Republican caucus as “a little strained,” due to the recent sexual harassment accusations and subsequent expulsion of former Representative Luke Simons, as well as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic (via AP News).

However, after Representative Mary Johnson popped her third batch of fresh popcorn on Monday, March 22nd, the building’s fire alarms began to sound — for the second time that day. The alarms also drew the arrival of the Bismarck Fire Department, who had also responded to the alarms that had been set off earlier that morning, and triggered an evacuation of the building — also for the second time that day.

All food appliances, including popcorn machines, are banned from the Capitol building

As it turns out, the popcorn machine was in violation of the Capitol-wide ban on all food appliances, including popcorn machines, anywhere inside the building, with the lone exception of the Capitol Cafe. According to Facility Management Director John Boyle, the ban was put into place for precisely this reason — to prevent the building’s alarms from going off and summoning the fire department. Representative Johnson and other lawmakers said they were unaware of the existing policy, which prohibits “toasters, popcorn poppers, frying pans, warming plates and other appliances used to cook food” and has been in place for 32 years, per the Bismarck Tribune.

The illicit popcorn machine has been removed from the North Dakota Capitol, and now, North Dakota state representatives will have to look outside the building for their midday pick-me-up. However, the House Republicans seemed resigned to the fate of their ill-fated popcorn machine. “Popcorn cheers people up for a reason. And now it’s gone, and that’s the way it goes,” House Majority Leader Pollert explained.

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