New policies for visitors to State House

Posted by Max Reiss – bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) – The next time you visit the Alabama State House, be prepared for new procedures from the moment you walk in the main entrance on Union Street across from the Capitol.

"Everyone will go through the magnetometers and will sign in when they arrive" said Todd Stacy, the Director of Communications for Speaker of the House, Mike Hubbard.

The Speaker's office had been going over ways to "make the experience at the State House more pleasant for the constituent" in recent months, Stacy said.

In addition to the signing in and metal detector process, each visitor, lobbyist, staff member, and lawmaker will be required to wear some sort of name badge while inside the building.

For years lawmakers, staff and the press have worn name tags, but it a new requirement for visitors.

Stacy said, "We want to make sure that you're identified and given that access as a visiting constituent and make sure nobody thinks you're a lobbyist or anything like that"

Visitors to the state house will receive a white sticker badge. Lobbyists however will be required to wear a blue badge with their name on it to clearly distinguish them from constituents.

Stacy announced the policy on behalf of the Speaker of the House Friday.

In addition to the ID badges, there will also be a new information desk located on the 6th floor of the State House for any constituents who would like information about where to go to find their representative.

"This is something brand new that's never been done before," Stacy said. "It is something that is designed to take the intimidation factor out of visiting the State House."

Stacy remarked that for many people who have never been to the State House during the legislative session that it could lead to a negative experience with lobbyists freely roaming the halls.

"That can't happen anymore" Stacy said.

Loitering around a lawmaker's office is now prohibited under the new rules.

"If you know where you're going, that's fine. You can make your way there without anyone bothering you" Stacy said. "But you can't just stand around waiting for a representative to come back to his or her office."

Stacy said the image of lobbyists in suits filling the hallways is difficult for any first-time visitor to handle.

There had been concerns that Rep. Hubbard would use the shootings in Arizona that led to six deaths and many others wounded, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, as a reason for closing access to the State House.

"No one is going to shut off public access to this building. Anybody who says that is absolutely wrong" Stacy said.

The new rules and policies take effect Tuesday when lawmakers begin the regular session.

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