Session 2014: Tips for Getting Around the Capitol

To be an effective advocate, you need to know your way around the state Capitol.
(Published Feb 18, 2014)

The following tips will help you find your way around the Capitol and feel almost like an insider!

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RSVP with your legislators. Set up an appointment to meet with your legislator ahead of time by calling or e-mailing 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 (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, and a snack bar on the second floor. The SOB has a cafeteria in basement, as well as a public barbershop in Room B-15.

Get to know your state Capitol. Guided tours of the Capitol are free and begin hourly at the information desk located on the first floor. Minnesota stone in the Capitol includes granite from St. Cloud, Rockville, and Ortonville, limestone from Winona, Kasota, and Mankato, and pipestone from Pipestone.

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