2021 - 2022 LEGISLATURE
January 4, 2021 - Introduced by Representatives Vos and Steineke, cosponsored
by Senators LeMahieu, Feyen and Kapenga.
AJR1,1,1 1Relating to: public access to the state capitol building.
AJR1,1,42 Whereas, even though the Department of Administration has charge of,
3operates, and maintains the state capitol building, the Department of
4Administration does not control all spaces of the state capitol building; and
AJR1,1,85 Whereas, there are spaces in the state capitol building controlled by the
6legislature that, according to the Wisconsin Administrative Code, are “reserved for
7use by the legislature, the use of which shall be as determined by the legislature”;
AJR1,1,129 Whereas, the Joint Committee on Legislative Organization may assign any
10space in the state capitol building for legislative offices that is not reserved for the
11governor, the lieutenant governor, the attorney general, the Wisconsin Supreme
12Court, and the press room located on the second floor; and
AJR1,1,1413 Whereas, Wisconsin law provides that control of the state capitol building is
14therefore a shared power of the executive branch and the legislative branch; and
1Whereas, in exercising this shared power, the legislature and the executive
2branch are subject to the constitutional requirement, under article IV, section 10, of
3the Wisconsin Constitution, that “The doors of each house shall be kept open except
4when the public welfare shall require secrecy”; and
AJR1,2,75 Whereas, under State ex rel. Ozanne v. Fitzgerald, the legislature may
6determine the kind and extent of in-person public access to legislative proceedings
7and business under this constitutional provision, subject to court review; and
AJR1,2,128 Whereas, on March 26, 2020, the Department of Administration closed the
9state capitol building to the public on account of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since that
10time, the Department of Administration has reopened the state capitol building to
11the public when the legislature is in session and when legislative committees
12convene, but otherwise the building has been closed to the public; and
AJR1,2,1813 Whereas, the result of this Department of Administration action is that the
14public does not have access to those areas of the state capitol building that are
15reserved exclusively for legislative uses except when the legislature is in session or
16its committees meet. In this way, the Department of Administration has determined,
17without legislative approval, that these are the only legislative proceedings that
18require the state capitol building to be open to the public; and
AJR1,2,2119 Whereas, if a legislator wishes to hold open office hours for constituents in the
20state capitol building, the constituents may not enter the building to attend these
21office hours; and
AJR1,2,2522 Whereas, if a legislator would like to meet in the state capitol building with
23constituents to discuss matters relating to the legislator's district or to receive
24suggestions or ideas for legislation, the constituents are not granted access to the
25building; and
1Whereas, if a legislator intends to present a lecture or lead a discussion on a
2concern or matter of public importance in a legislative hearing room or other
3legislative space, members of the public are not freely permitted entrance to the state
4capitol building to attend or participate in the lecture or discussion; and
AJR1,3,75 Whereas, the result of these restrictions on members of the public to meet with
6legislators in areas of the state capitol building reserved to the legislature may raise
7constitutional concerns; and
AJR1,3,138 Whereas, the executive branch, by restricting public access to the state capitol
9building, may be impermissibly interfering with the ability of the legislative branch
10to carry out its legislative duties and exercise legislative powers, especially those
11relating to representation and delivery of constituent services. These legislative
12powers are reserved exclusively to the legislature under article IV, section 1, of the
13Wisconsin Constitution; and
AJR1,3,2114 Whereas, the Department of Administration's decision to close the state capitol
15building, including access to legislative spaces in the building, may restrict public
16access to legislators in ways not intended or permitted by the constitution. Under
17the current arrangement, the legislature does not control the uses of its spaces in the
18state capitol building because it cannot grant members of the public access to its
19spaces. In this respect, the executive branch is determining the manner in which
20members of the public may meet and confer with their senators and representatives
21to the assembly; now, therefore, be it
AJR1,3,24 22Resolved by the assembly, the senate concurring, That the Department of
23Administration's action to restrict public access to the state capitol building may
24impermissibly infringe on the legislature's core constitutional powers; and
1Be it further resolved, That the Department of Administration is hereby
2directed immediately to provide free and open public access to the state capitol
AJR1,4,44 (End)