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Our Opinion: Follow sensible procedures for dome access

Our Opinion: Follow sensible procedures for dome access

January 14th, 2011 in News

We urge lawmakers who recently received keys accessing the upper reaches of the Capitol dome to adhere to recommended policies and procedures.

The state's Office of Administration (OA) this week sent letters to lawmakers outlining how they may obtain their keys, according to Wanda Seeney, the agency's public information officer.

The letter was accompanied by the agency's recommended access policy and procedure, as well as a release of liability form that visitors are asked to sign.

The distribution of keys followed a complaint by Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, who complained last week of stalling tactics by OA.

Access to the dome typically has required contacting a state official with access to one of a limited number of keys.

Crowell successfully authored a measure last year to widen access by requiring keys be provided to all lawmakers - 163 representatives and 34 senators.

His stalling complaint this month was followed by a resolution to boot the Office of Administration out of the Capitol.

"If we have an Office of Administration that is that arrogant and that obtuse to this body and this Senate and the rule of law that was passed, I don't want them anywhere near this august body of the Missouri Senate," he said.

We have climbed to the upper reaches of the dome (see sidebar below) and we found the ascent both challenging and confining. The stairs are steep and the structure is essentially the Capitol's crawlspace.

But the ascent leads to two unusual viewing areas, the Whispering Gallery within the dome's interior and the outdoor viewing platform in the upper reaches of the dome.

With regard to public access, the question is what degree of control is reasonable.

We have heard no complaints of inaccessibility.

Now that access has been increased, we encourage lawmakers to follow safety and liability recommendations. We find them both reasonable and practical.