A proposed new office building and parking complex for Minnesota senators is “unnecessary, unconstitutional and unpaid for,” a group of Republican legislators charged Monday as they announced plans to try to repeal the $90 million project’s as-yet-incomplete authorization process, set in law in 2013.
They also faulted the new building’s DFL backers for lacking a Plan B — an alternative to the new building both for housing legislative floor sessions in 2016, when the Capitol will be closed for restoration, and for the loss of about 15 Senate offices from the Capitol when that project is completed.
But as reporters learned upon questioning, the project’s GOP critics don’t have a Plan B, either.
It’s getting close to crunch time for the building proposal — lest indecision cause delay in the four-year Capitol restoration and cost taxpayers a tidy sum. Its fate sits in the House rules committee.
To be taken seriously at this late date, any revision in the proposed building plan ought to come with plausible, cost-effective alternative solutions to the problems it is intended to solve. Where will the Legislature meet in 2016? If it’s in existing space, how much will it cost to make over that space for the peculiar electronic demands of a floor session? Where will the public find their senators after the Capitol is rebuilt to house fewer of them?
For 40 years, senators’ offices have been split between the State Office Building and the Capitol. That’s a confusion-causing inconvenience for citizens, some of whom travel long distances for the sake of rushed meetings with their legislators. It will be a shame if lawmakers don’t seize the opportunity presented by Capitol renovation to correct that long-standing mistake.
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