A group of 13 young YWCAers dressed in bright orange shirts peer from the gallery onto the ornate House floor, part of one of the last state Capitol tours before a likely government shutdown closes the Minnesota Historical Society’s doors.
“Do you know what you have to win to become a representative?” a tour guide asked the youngsters from Minneapolis.
“A prize!” one called out.
“The vote!” yelled another.
“Yes! You have to win an election,” she told the group.
She then led them through the phrase that spans the wall behind the Speaker’s podium: Vox Popularum Est Vox Dei — “The voice of the people is the voice of God.”
But that shouldn’t be taken literally, warned Diane Pearson, the guide.
Stephanie Dorre, a YWCA staffer said the youth organization tries to come to the Capitol once a year. This year, “it was scheduled before and continued regardless” of the current budget impasse.
“It would have been disappointing if [the tour] had been a couple days later,” Dorre said of the shutdown.
In the Minnesota Supreme Court, the kids learned about how law is defined, likely unaware of the legal decisions in lower courts determining Minnesota’s short-term fiscal future.
With a chorus of “thank yous,” the tour ended and Pearson closed the gates to the state Supreme Court after the last of the kids trickled out. “If [lawmakers] don’t agree, I won’t be coming to work on Friday,” she said with a laugh.
She explained that all but a few Minnesota Historical Society employees won’t be able to return to their jobs until after the shutdown ends.
“I don’t think I’ll be gone that long, but, yes, I would miss it,” Pearson said.