On Thursday, the Capitol Services Committee, made up of state lawmakers and staffers, proposed touch-ups to the Idaho State Capitol Building in Boise after taking time to review the building's use during the 2010 legislative session, the first session held in the building in two years, after it was closed for refurbishing and expansion. On Friday, the Legislative Council, a different group of lawmakers and staffers, approved all the recommendations of the Capitol Services Committee, including adding glass panes to doors in the lower wings of the building, which could cost as much as $10,000.
The Legislative Council approved the glass panes to help reduce noise in committee rooms during the legislative session. Several lawmakers, including Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, who chairs the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, said that they wanted the public to be able to see as much of committee hearings as possible without disrupting official proceedings. "I prefer the clear glass so people can see if they want to come in or not," said Lodge, who also said that during the 2010 session, she often left her committee room doors open to involve the public. Sen. Joe Stegner, R-Lewiston, who pitched the Capitol alterations to fellow lawmakers, said that windows could reduce foot traffic from interested parties who only wanted to see what goes on during committee hearings. "The whole point of the glass is to allow people to walk by and see what’s going on inside without opening the door," said Stegner.
The doors that will be altered by the decision are those in committee rooms in the lower east and west wings of the building. Stegner said that he vaguely remembers lawmakers choosing all-wooden doors to cut down on noise from hallways. Lawmakers toyed with the idea of installing a smaller glass pane in the door, but rejected that in favor of a larger pane that will be more cost-efficient to install. If lawmakers had chosen the smaller panes, construction workers would have had to cut each door to specifications to install the smaller glass. Stegner told lawmakers that the larger panes are easier to install because large wooden panels can be removed "fairly easily" and replaced with pre-cut glass.
The larger window panes could also allow signage to be installed on the glass at a later date. No money was approved by committee members for signage at Friday's meeting. Lawmakers approved the funding, but did not agree on what type of glass to install to cut down on noise. Some lawmakers believed thicker-than-normal glass is the solution, while others said the state should go with double-paned glass. Council members could only agree that glass panes be installed “as soundproof as possible.”
Council members also approved funding for several other projects. Lawmakers and staffers approved $4,000 to install two wireless video camera systems that will allow the speaker of the House and the president of the Senate to see into the public viewing galleries, which are located directly behind and above both podiums at each respective location. Members also approved adding security panic buttons to three various locations throughout the building, which will come at a cost of about $1,500.
Many other changes recommended by the Capitol Services Committee required no additional approval by the Legislative Council. Pillars in the Senate chambers will be rounded, lighting will be added in the gift shop, and several committee hearing rooms will receive additional upgrades. Some projects will be funded as part of the original construction cost of the building, which was about $127 million, and some projects will be funded with money left over from the original construction fund.