Editorial: Take time to consider a Capitol visit

Published 9:34 am Monday, January 23, 2017

We’re frequently told that we don’t want to see how sausage is made.

Of course, if the sausage was being produced inside a work of art, it might be a different story.

When it comes to the days spent hammering out legislation in St. Paul, we’d encourage taking a look at how the work is done. Both the House and Senate offer public views of the action when the bodies are in session. The balconies accessed from the Capitol building’s third floor offer an eagle-eye view of who’s voting, who’s debating and who decided to take a pass.

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And, if lawmakers aren’t in session, there’s always the chance to witness a committee hearing or attend one of the rallies frequently held at the Capitol. With a little planning — or luck — you may even see your state senator or representative in action, or simply walking the halls.

Granted, even taking in all the activities of a single day won’t provide a complete view of what southeast Minnesota’s lawmakers are doing while at the Capitol, but it provides a taste.

And, as political reporter Heather Carlson highlighted in the weekend Post Bulletin, it gives you a chance to see what $310 million buys when it comes to restoring the state’s work of art. Preserving the 1905 state Capitol has been a worthwhile endeavor that keeps our history in close connection to our future.

In addition to restoring the Capitol rotunda and impressive artwork throughout the building, the renovations provided increased seating and accessibility in hearing rooms, a new visitors center and classroom and expanded dining options, as many other features.

Whether signing up for a free guided tour of the restoration or taking advantage of the self-guided option to take in the architectural masterpiece by Cass Gilbert, simply being in the historic building tends to inspire a sense of awe. Discovering its artistic secrets simply enhances the experience.

Built for $4.5 million in Minnesota’s 37th year, “the people’s house” has more than 300,000 square feet of floor space. While much is out of reach for the average tourist, what can be seen is worth the visit.

Whether or not you get to see a bill on its path to becoming a law, we can guarantee the restored and upgraded historic structure will inspire and provide a unique glimpse at the state’s past and future.

— Rochester Post-Bulletin, Jan. 16