MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota has had 45 special sessions in the last 110 years. But it’s never had a problem like this — there is no place to meet.

Workers are emptying the State Capitol of all its contents, preparing for the most intense, complex restoration the building has ever had. And lawmakers are looking for a new special session home.

The stately St. Paul Hotel has offered up its facilities for as long as the legislature needs, including a ballroom that seats 260 people.

“It has 16-foot screens so they can project everything up there. If we need to, we can divide it in half and have two separate sections,” St. Paul Hotel General Manager Ken Boyles said.

St. Paul College near the Capitol is making its facilities available. And the National Guard Armory, which holds 2,500, is a strong contender.

But any venue must be technologically equipped, accessible to the public and cost effective.

That narrows it down to the Capitol area, and very possibly the large hearing rooms in the State Office Building.

“I do think from the standpoint of both cost and meeting the functional needs, we will probably be looking to stay on the Capitol complex and near the vicinity of the Capitol if we can find a facility that works,” Minnesota Commissioner of Administration Matt Massman said.

Gov. Mark Dayton wants lawmakers to hold their session on the Capitol front lawn, under a tent with folding chairs. That might be fun and interesting to watch, but it may not fit modern requirements necessary to pass laws.

He hopes to call the special session sometime next month.

Pat Kessler

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