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Agreement reached on Capitol office space

MinnPost photo by Briana Bierschbach
Public space allocation in the basement of the Minnesota Capitol.

The public is the biggest winner under a final agreement between Gov. Mark Dayton and top legislative leaders on the layout of the restored Minnesota State Capitol. 

The Capitol is currently in the middle of a $273 million, three-year restoration project. In an agreement reached between the governor, Republican House Speaker Kurt Daudt and DFL Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk late Wednesday night, state senators will have fewer offices in the Capitol to make way for things like a new public library, public meeting rooms and space for House members to meet with their constituents and other citizens.

That won’t be the only new space allotted for the public when the 109-year-old building opens back up for business. A handful of other public spaces were already approved in the original Capitol remodel: 

  • A basement-level meeting room for public groups
  • Full access for people with disabilities
  • A classroom for the Minnesota Historical Society to give presentations to the public
  • Reservable public dining rooms and 70 more available dining seats
  • 14 public restrooms, up from 11 restrooms in the old Capitol design
  • A fully-opened east wing of the Capitol, which had been closed off for offices

Leaders stalled last week after hours of negotiations on how space would be divided. At the heart of the disagreement was how much of the new Capitol should be taken up by legislative offices versus public space. State senators currently have 39 offices in the Capitol, but they will only have four offices when the building reopens.

Senators will move almost entirely into a new office building currently under construction on the north side of the state Capitol. The building has been a source of controversy since the Senate inserted the project in the 2013 tax bill. Republicans have criticized the new building as a waste of taxpayer money and railed on the project on the campaign trail last fall.

But at a meeting of the Capitol Preservation Commission on Thursday, Bakk said there wouldn’t be as much public space in the remodeled Capitol without the new building. “The Capitol would permanently be a Senate office building if it weren’t for that project across the street,” he said.

Space in the new building will now be almost equally divided up between senators and House members, but Speaker Kurt Daudt said there will be no offices for any representatives in the Capitol.

“The House’s priority was to secure space for the public in their Capitol,” Daudt said in a statement. “The space allotted to the House will be used for public meeting rooms, conference rooms for members to meet with the public and for staff work space when the House is in session. The House will not have any member offices in the Capitol.”

Public space allocation in the basement of the Minnesota Capitol.
MinnPost photo by Briana Bierschbach
Public space allocation in on the third floor of the Minnesota Capitol.

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 01/22/2015 - 03:49 pm.

    Clarification, please

    So… House and Senate chambers, hearing rooms, public space (including meeting rooms) a few more bathrooms, a larger cafeteria, and some other public spaces pretty much fill the Capitol after renovation? The new Senate office building becomes, in effect, the new legislators’ office building, roughly equally divided between House and Senate members?

    If not, where will House members have their offices if there are no House offices in the Capitol building?

  2. Submitted by Sheila Smith on 01/22/2015 - 04:47 pm.

    Please clarify

    Would you please clarify which floor each of these maps represent? Thanks.

    FYI to Ray: All of the House members currently have an office in the State Office Building across the street from the State Capitol. Minority party Senators are also currently in the State Office Building. My understanding is that the new Senate Office Building, North of the Capitol, will have offices for all of the Senators.

  3. Submitted by Mike Seim on 01/22/2015 - 05:34 pm.


    The floor captions are backwards: the top picture is the basement (the one with the cafeteria) and the bottom one is the 3rd floor (the public gallery balconies in the leg chambers)

    There were NO real legislative offices in the building as originally designed – your “office” was your desk on the chamber floor. So every office added over the years displaced something else

  4. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 01/23/2015 - 06:48 am.

    Thanks, Sheila

    It makes sense that there would be a State Office Building, but I haven’t spent any appreciable time in St. Paul, and didn’t know it existed. That takes care of offices for House members. That the new Senate Office Building will have offices for all the Senators is my understanding, as well.

  5. Submitted by Corey Anderson on 01/23/2015 - 08:46 am.

    Captions corrected

    The top graphic depicts the public space allocation in the basement and the graphic at the bottom of the post shows the third floor’s public space.

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