Further restrictions on access to capitol as Walker prepares to give budget speech Tuesday
Post by Emily Mills on 2/28/2011 1:54pm
After allowing protesters to stay in the Capitol overnight even after Gov. Scott Walker's administration ordered the building shuttered 4 p.m. Sunday, police today are heavily restricting access in the lead-up to the governor's budget speech on Tuesday.
Walker had originally planned to give the address at an off-site location, but has since decided to move it back to the Capitol, in a joint session of the Legislature.
While the original announcement, made by DOA Executive Assistant Jodi Jensen (see .pdf of the release here), stipulated that only those with official appointments to see legislators, cleaning staff, and a small number of protesters would be allowed in, reports via Twitter currently state that almost no one is being allowed in.
Rep. Kelda Helen Roys, who refused to show state ID when asked, was not allowed to enter the building. Eric Koch, an intern with the Assembly, said, "I waited 50 minutes and was only let in when I found a staff member to escort me through."
Sources working inside the Capitol say that several elevators are currently shut down, certain bathrooms are locked off, and doors to entire office suites are locked, forcing workers to enter through a single door guarded by a State Trooper.
The Wisconsin State Constitution states that the "legislature cannot prohibit an individual from entering the capitol or its grounds (Art. I, Section 4)." Currently, attorneys with the ACLU in Madison are reviewing "options on what might be done" in regards to the limited access.
According to the release, the following rules were to be put in place today and then subject to review this evening:
- Visitors to the Capitol will enter at the King Street entrance.
- A handicapped entrance will be available at the Martin Luther King, Jr. entrance
- Visitors will be admitted to meet with legislators and other officials who work in the building, to attend committee hearings and to observe the state Assembly and state Senate if they are in session.
- Capitol Police will be stationed at the King Street entrance and can assist members of the public who do not have an appointment, but who wish to see their legislators or meet with others in the building.
- Protestors will be allowed into the building, but crowd size will be adjusted to accommodate the cleaning crews, the preparation for the Tuesday’s joint legislative session and the number ofprotestors who remained in the building overnight.
- Items that created safety or fire hazards and were removed from the building beginning on Friday will not be allowed back in.
- Police will continue the practice that began on Saturday of disallowing items including sleeping bags, blankets and animals (other than service animals) into the building.
- Members of the media will enter the Capitol at the West Washington entrance.
The return to normal business hours at the Capitol means it will only be open to the public Mon.-Fri. 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. and Sat.-Sun. 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Rumors are flying fast and furious among those protesting the governor's budget repair bill. Sunday night in the rotunda word spread quickly that Republican Senator Dale Schultz planned to vote against the bill, news that brought loud cheers to the crowd.
There has been no official confirmation from the senator regarding the news, however a WisPolitics release this morning stated that:
The chief of staff for GOP state Sen. Dale Schultz said a rumor that floated through the Capitol yesterday that the Richland Center lawmaker has announced he would vote against the budget repair bill was not true.
"Dale has not announced anything over the weekend," aide Todd Allbaugh wrote in an e-mail to WisPolitics. "His position remains the same. He continues to work with his colleagues in hopes of finding a compromise."
Emily Mills is Editor-At-Large for Dane101, as well as Editor of Our Lives Magazine. She is also a freelance writer, photographer, actor, and musician (drummer and singer in local band Little Red Wolf). Originally from several states up and down the Midwest Emily has called Madison home since 2000. Contact her at