ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Minnesota lawmakers will open their 2016 session on Tuesday under most unusual circumstances.
The State Capitol is closed for a three-year, $300 million dollar restoration.
But even though the Capitol is an active construction zone, the Minnesota House of Representatives will meet inside.
“It will be certainly tight,” said Matt Massman, Minnesota’s Commissioner of Administration. “We don’t anticipate that there will be much opportunity for the public to be in the building.”
House leaders ordered construction halted for the next three months in one small part of the Capitol, and public access will be severely limited.
By order of the fire marshal, only 258 people are allowed inside the Capitol when the House meets. This includes 134 lawmakers, up to 75 House staff members and 49 members of the public.
Also, there’s no running water, and no functioning restrooms. So, if nature calls, portable biffys are stationed outside.
The Minnesota Senate will be holding session in temporary quarters at its new office building across the street.
The Legislature will meet until late May, at which point the Capitol will close again.
“We’ll close the building back down again and it won’t re-open again until the 2017 regular session,” Massman said.
If you want to see the House in session, tickets are available on a first come, first served basis.
In addition to limited in-person viewing, both the House and Senate have also set up an overflow room to watch a televised feed of the day’s proceedings.