MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota lawmakers will soon be meeting in special session, though Friday’s talks ended with no deal in place. It’s not clear whether they’ll plan to meet over the weekend to try to hammer out the details.
When it gets put on the schedule, for the first time in 134 years, this session will be held at a place other than the State Capitol.
The State Capitol building is in the midst of a massive three-year restoration project, and it is closing to the public, including lawmakers.
Legislators’ desks are gone, voting boards have been removed, and 110 years of offices have been taken apart and carted away.
An expected special session will be held next door in the State Office Building, affectionately known as the S.O.B.
“It won’t be the same as meeting in the chamber in terms of having voting boards and some other technology,” Matt Massman, Minnesota’s Commissioner of Administration who is overseeing the renovation, said.
Instead of meeting in the grand House and Senate chambers, lawmakers will squeeze themselves into two House hearing rooms.
There will be cameras, microphones and other electronic technology, and lawmakers will likely take votes one by one, using their voices, not a voting button. Public space will be limited.
According to the Legislative Reference Library, there’s never been a session outside the current State Capitol, which opened in 1905. In fact, it hasn’t happened since 1881.
“We understand that there was a fire in the old Capitol that caused them to meet in a downtown hotel briefly, before they were able to return to the capitol,” Massman said.
The 2016 Legislature will need to meet in another location as well; the State Capitol restoration won’t be completed until 2017.