Legislators returning to the State Capitol for a fifth special session last week were greeted by a familiar though unwelcome sight.
A tall chain-link security fence lines the perimeter of the building known as the People’s House, cutting off access to the storied Capitol steps and reducing entry to a handful of openings.
The temporary fence went up on May 31 as a precaution to protect the Capitol amid days of protests and unrest following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd.
In July, Department of Administration Commissioner Alice Roberts-Davis told the Capitol Area Architectural and Planning Board that she anticipated the fence would come down “in the very near future.” “We don’t see a need for that to be ongoing at the Capitol,” she said.
Top lawmakers serving on the panel also called for restoring public access.
“When you have a fence around a building that is the house of the people, intentional or not it sends a message to folks about their ability to participate,” Lt. Gov Peggy Flanagan said at the time, according to MPR News.
But three months later, the fence remains. When asked for a removal date, a department spokesman said it will stay up “until further notice.”
With a setup and removal fee of $18,700 and a daily rental rate of $274, the barrier around the Capitol has cost the state more than $56,000 so far.