ST. PAUL – Many people have been questioning the necessity of a new Senate office building in addition to the renovations taking place at the Capitol – and these concerns are completely understandable and should be addressed.
The current renovations at the Capitol are not a matter of aesthetics; they’re a matter of efficiency, convenience, and meeting code regulations. And the efficiency and convenience are for the sake of the public rather than the Senate. The Capitol has desperately needed these renovations for some time now – the design of the building itself is more than 100 years old and unfortunately at that time, the public wasn’t really expected or encouraged to visit.
But all of that has changed. As legislators, we want and need public participation. We want the opportunities to speak to our constituents face to face, and for those meetings to be easily accessible for our constituents. There are issues here at the Capitol that go beyond maintaining the crumbling marble and peeling paint. We have a lack of parking, small committee rooms that limit public access, a shortage of public restrooms, and accessibility issues for the disabled, to name a few.
Adding convenience for constituents to encourage public participation is just one of the reasons why the new Senate office building is important. Its construction will allow senators to move out of the Capitol (where the majority resides) and State Office (where the minority resides) buildings and into one building. As senators, we should be working together in the same quarters, affording ourselves the opportunities to engage with one another outside of the Senate Chambers. We’re state leaders, and although we’re affiliated with different parties and have varying opinions, our job is to work together for our constituents. The new Senate building will allow us to do just that.