Video and More: How to Advocate for Cities During Capitol Construction

To be an effective advocate, you need to know your way around the state Capitol.
(Published Jan 26, 2015)

If you plan on coming to the Capitol during the 2015 session, be aware that the Capitol restoration is well underway, impacting both the outside and inside of the building. Watch the video and read both the construction details and general tips below so you can feel like an insider!

Please allow a few moments for the media player to load below.

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Capitol construction overview
Senate Democrats were reshuffled into the available office spaces at the Capitol, and very few of the building’s committee rooms are available during the remodeling. The State Office Building (where the Senate Republicans and all House members have their offices) is not under construction. If you plan to visit your legislator during session, the League encourages you to:

  • Check in with the LMC intergovernmental relations (IGR) staff before heading to the Capitol.
  • Stop by the Senate Information Office (on the second floor, near the Senate chambers) when you arrive at the Capitol.
  • Allow for extra time to get to Senate offices or hearings (there is very limited space available and some senators are sharing offices).

The League strongly encourages city officials to communicate with their legislator’s office via email or phone and consider meeting with legislators on weekends or long breaks when they are likely to be in their home districts.

Information for large groups & city days at the Capitol
The rotunda is completely blocked off, and a majority of the Capitol building is not accessible to the public while major renovations take place on all levels of the building. There will be no indoor event space available and no group tours scheduled until the Capitol restoration project is complete. All events for the 2015 legislative session within the state Capitol complex must be held outside.

The League encourages you to contact the alternate venues mentioned in the link below (courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Administration) if you would like an indoor space for your city or region’s day at the Capitol.

General Tips for Contacting Legislators at the Capitol (updated 1/22/2015)
The following tips will help you find your way around the Capitol.

RSVP with your legislators. Set up an appointment to meet with your legislator ahead of time by calling or emailing them. Contact information for legislators can be found online at:; by calling House Public Information Services at (651) 296-2146 or (800) 657-3550; or by calling the Senate Information Office at (651) 296-0504 or (888) 234-1112. If you are having trouble setting up an appointment with your legislator, contact Heather or Laura. (See information to the right.)

Find out who your legislators are here.

Where can I park? City officials can park for free at the League of Minnesota Cities parking lot on the corner of University Avenue and Rice Street (always sign in at the LMC receptionist desk). Several other public parking lots near the Capitol charge hourly rates.

What’s on the schedule today? House committee meetings are posted in Room 175 of the State Office Building (SOB) and on bulletin boards on the first floor near the elevators in the SOB. Senate committee meetings are posted in Room 231-Capitol and on bulletin boards on the second floor of the Capitol near the Senate Chamber (and online). On a typical Thursday, the House and Senate both meet in the morning, but floor schedules for both bodies are subject to change daily.

How do I get a copy of the Green Book or the Red Book? The Green Book includes biographies, room and phone numbers, committee assignments, and more. The “Red Book,” the Official Directory of the Minnesota Legislature, contains member and committee information, as well as House and Senate rules, joint rules, statutory and constitutional provisions relating to the Legislature, and staff information. For copies, contact House Public Information Services at (651) 296-2146 or (800) 657-3550; or the Senate Information Office at (651) 296-0504 or (888) 234-1112.

Where do I get copies of bills? The Chief Clerk’s Office, Room 211-Capitol, has free copies of bills and a computerized index for public use to research bill status and authors.

Where are all the legislators? Legislators can be found in their offices, in committee, or in the House or Senate Chambers. House members and Republican senators have offices in the SOB and DFL senators have offices in the Capitol. House committees typically meet in the SOB, while Senate committees typically meet in the Capitol.

Can I bother my legislators if they are in a floor session or a committee hearing? Yes, sort of. The first step is to call ahead of time and schedule a meeting. If your legislator is in a committee meeting or floor session at the only time you are available, ask their staffer if they could be briefly interrupted. At floor sessions, you can ask House or Senate staffers outside the chamber doors to pass a note to your legislator stating that you are there and asking if they can break away for a minute or two. Be brief. An intern or page will deliver your note and your legislator will step outside to visit if they are able. At committee hearings, you can ask committee staffers (usually wearing a staff name badge) to pass a note to your legislator stating that you are there and asking if they can break away for a minute or two.

Take the tunnel. The Capitol is connected to the SOB, as well as to the Judicial Center and other area buildings, by underground tunnels. Capitol insiders stay warm and dry by taking the tunnels, which are accessible on the basement level of the Capitol. You may notice some construction due to the Capitol renovation projects that are underway.

Media. The media have moved! Due to construction, the Capitol Press Corps is located in the nearby Centennial Office Building.

Often-missed quiet spot. Need a quiet place to wait, read or get online? The Legislative Reference Library, Room 645-SOB, is one of the Capitol’s best-kept secrets. Found on the sixth floor of the SOB, the library features current and historic information on legislation and legislators, and is free and open to the public. More and more of the Capitol complex is now wireless, so log on and see if you can connect wherever you find yourself.

Snacks, beverages, and a haircut. The Capitol has a cafeteria in the basement called the Rathskeller that is open for extended hours during construction. The Capitol snack bar on the second floor is closed for now. You can find Capitol Barbers, a barbershop open to the public, in Room B-15 of the SOB.

Get to know your state Capitol. While construction has halted indoor tours of the Capitol, during construction you can still take a self-guided tour of the Capitol grounds. Visit the Minnesota Historical Society website for more details.

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Note: This video was produced in 2013, prior to the start of construction.

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