We have reached the midway point of the legislative session and the House's focus will increasingly shift from committee work to lengthier floor sessions to vote on bills.
Committees are in the process of wrapping up their omnibus bills for this session and should soon start arriving before the full House.
As for bills we took up on the floor this week, legislation I authored regarding the Capitol's grand reopening overwhelmingly passed both bodies. The crux of the bill I authored is it clarifies state law to make certain that fundraisers can legally take place to raise and expend private money to support the reopening events. The Capitol is the people's house and this will help to ensure the people can participate in festivities when the restoration of the Capitol is unveiled.
The Capitol project is on pace to be approximately 90 percent finished by the time the Legislature convenes for the 2017 session in January. A "Welcome back to the Capitol Event" is set to take place then. A larger, more formal, public grand reopening celebration is set to take place when the project is complete in the fall of 2017.
A grand reopening committee of 21 members will be formed to spearhead the fundraising. The group is likely to be made up of community and business partners and it would report to the Capitol Preservation Commission.
The Capitol project is being conducted mainly to repair a crumbling exterior, address life safety concerns, update mechanical systems and make the building more user-friendly to the public.
Look for more as things develop in St. Paul.