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A Capitol basement by another name?

Posted by: Rachel E. Stassen-Berger Updated: June 17, 2014 - 9:00 AM

On Monday morning mighty Minnesota powers -- the chief justice of the Supreme Court, the governor, the Senate majority leader and other lawmakers -- gathered to discuss the weighty subject of the state Capitol renovation.

In a window-flanked room, overlooking the Capitol mall, they wondered: What should be basement level be called?

The basement level, which had long been home to legislative staff offices, a cafeteria, the Capitol press corps and, at times, a few mice, is being redesigned to allow for more public spaces and a more purposeful floor plan.

Perhaps, the Capitol Preservation Commission mused, the sub-floor should be named something that sounds a bit less dank, dusty and rodent filled.

The Commission, which includes Gov. Mark Dayton, Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, nine other lawmakers, the director of the Minnesota Historical Society Stephen Elliot and others, considered.

For a few months, the Capitol architects tried naming the basement the terrace but the name never took. A motion was made to rename the post-reconstruction basement the ground floor and the current ground floor, one floor up, the terrace floor.

"We should give some thought to that," Bakk said to the proposal. People know the building's rooms by the levels and besides, he said ignoring the Capitol press at the meeting who had long officed in the basement, "not much happened in the basement."

"I think we need a committee," Bakk joked.

Sen. Warren Limmer, R-Maple Grove and a 26-year veteran of the Legislature, noted that currently the State Office Building's tunnel floor is named the ground floor and it leads directly the Capitol's basement floor.

In the end, the august commission decided to table the renaming idea.

The commission did approve the plans for the next phase of construction and was told everything so far is on schedule and on budget.

The spelling of the Supreme Court Chief Justice's first name has been corrected in this version.

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