Tips and tools for navigating the state Capitol
If you’re planning to come to St. Paul to advocate for cities this year—and we hope you are—you’ll need to know how to get around the Capitol complex. Here are some tips and tools to help you do just that. All the information here reflects changes made after the recent Capitol renovation and construction of the new Minnesota Senate Building.
Watch this video for some quick tips on visiting the Capitol!
Capitol complex overview
Four buildings to take note of around the Capitol complex:
- The League of Minnesota Cities
- Take advantage of free parking for LMC members. Make sure to check in with the front desk staff and sign in during League business hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (If you arrive before or after hours, you can still park there and then just head to the Capitol.)
- Meet League staff and gather information and tools for your Capitol visit.
- The State Office Building (SOB)
- State representatives’ offices are located on the upper floors.
- Committee hearings are located on the lower floors.
- The Minnesota Senate Building (MSB)
- State senators’ offices are located on the upper floors.
- Committee hearings are located on the lower floor.
- The Capitol
- Home to the Senate and House chambers, where floor sessions take place.
- You can watch floor sessions from the public gallery, located above the chambers.
City officials can park for free at the League of Minnesota Cities parking lot on the corner of University Avenue and Rice Street. Please sign in at the LMC receptionist desk from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you arrive before or after League hours, you may park there without signing in. Several other public parking lots and street parking near the Capitol complex charge hourly rates.
Meals, snacks, and beverages
Fresh Season Cafe/cafeterias are located in several Capitol complex buildings, including the lower level of the Department of Transportation building, and are typically open for breakfast, lunch, and snack purchases. Other neighborhood restaurants near the Capitol offer a variety of food options.
Information for large groups and city days at the Capitol
Contact League staff for help in scheduling meetings with legislators or large group gatherings at the Capitol. Cities can also reserve space at the Capitol complex.
To get even more familiar with the Capitol, you can take a free guided tour. Make sure to reserve a spot for a group of 15 via phone or email: (651) 259-3003 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A few more logistical details for successful advocacy
The following tips will help you connect with your legislators and navigate the legislative process.
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 LMC staff member Ted Bengtson at email@example.com or (651) 281-1242.
What’s on the schedule today? House committee meetings are posted in Room 175 of the SOB and on bulletin boards on the first floor near the elevators. Senate committee meetings are available at the Senate information desk in the MSB. Please note: schedules for both bodies are subject to change daily. Checking online is the best bet.
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. Or you can stop by the League’s lobby to pick up a copy. All information in the green and red books can also be found on the Legislature’s website.
Where do I get copies of bills? Bill language, summaries, and more are available on the state Legislature website. 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. All House members have permanent offices in the State Office Building, and senators’ offices are in the Minnesota Senate Building. House committees will meet in the State Office Building, while Senate committees will typically meet in the 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 his or her staffer if the legislator can be briefly interrupted. At floor sessions, you can ask House or Senate staffers outside the floor chamber doors to pass a note to your legislator stating that you are there and asking if he or she 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 he or she is able. At committee hearings, you can ask committee staffers (usually wearing a green staff name badge) to pass a note to your legislator stating that you are there and asking if the legislator can break away for a moment.