How to Advocate for Cities During Capitol Construction

To be an effective advocate, you need to know your way around the state Capitol complex. Here is information that will help.
(Published Jan 20, 2016)

If you plan on coming to the Capitol during the 2016 session, be aware that the Capitol restoration is well underway, impacting both the outside and inside of the building. Read both the construction details and general tips below so you can feel like an insider!

Capitol construction overview
The Capitol building is completely closed to the public until renovations are complete in 2017. The newly constructed Minnesota Senate Building (MSB), located north across University Avenue from the Capitol, is open to the public. Public and disability access is at the front entrance on the corner of Park Street and University Avenue for those walking from the League building (.1 miles). Meter parking is available directly behind the MSB on Sherburne Avenue and Lot Q.

The offices of Senate Democrats are located in this new building. Senate Republican offices will remain in the State Office Building for this session. Senate floor sessions will be held at the new Minnesota Senate Building. The State Office Building (SOB), where House members have their permanent offices, is not under construction.

Due to construction, the Capitol Press Corps is located in the nearby Centennial Office Building.

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.
  • Communicate with your 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
Since the Capitol is closed, 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
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: www.leg.mn; 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 and on bulletin boards on the first floor near the elevators. Senate committee meetings will likely be available at the Senate information desk in the Minnesota Senate Building. Please note: 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? Bill language, summaries, and more are available online at www.leg.mn). You can also contact League staff for printed copies and assistance finding the information you need.

Where are all the legislators? Legislators can be found in their offices, in committee, or in the House or Senate chambers. House members have permanent offices in the State Office Building, and Senate Republicans have temporary offices there too (call ahead to confirm). Democratic senators have offices in the new Minnesota Senate Building. House committees typically meet in the State Office Building, while Senate committees will typically meet in the new Minnesota Senate Building.

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.

Snacks, beverages, and a haircut. Fresh Season Cafe/cafeterias are located in several Capitol complex buildings including the lower level of the Department of Trasportation building and are typically open for breakfast, lunch, and snack purchases. Other neighborhood restaurants offer a variety of food options. You can find Capitol Barbers, a barbershop open to the public, in Room B-15 of the SOB.

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