Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Senate Staffers Relocate for Restoration Project

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Senate Staffers Relocate for Restoration Project

Article excerpt

OKLAHOMA CITY - The state Capitol restoration project has forced some Senate staffers to move into committee rooms and makeshift offices during the interim.

On the fifth floor, fiscal and legislative analysts are working in a large, open committee room that's colloquially called the Taj Mahal for its ornate new decor.

Officially known by its number, 535, the room can hold every state senator, staffers and members of the public for committee meetings. Since late June, though, it's been home to employees from the third floor.

Senate spokeswoman Malia Bennett said 21 employees had to make way for restoration of the Capitol interior, which could take six years and at least $120 million to finish. The move hasn't affected the divisions' work flow, she added.

"We have an incredibly efficient staff," Bennett said. "That's the nice thing about Wi-Fi, too. They can just pick up their laptops and move to another space and work."

The work by contractor Manhattan Construction so far has only touched Senate staff from the third floor and the Jan Eric Cartwright Law Library, which is in the basement. House of Representative staffers, along with other executive branch offices, remain unaffected.

"The House is still working with the Capitol architect and the construction group to determine the best way to utilize the spaces we have available," House spokesman Jason Sutton said. "At this point, we have not finalized when the move will take place and which staff divisions will be moving."

The law library moved down the street to the Oklahoma Department of Libraries building.

Bennett said she expects the nonpartisan Senate employees will be able to move into their permanent offices on the third floor before session starts in January. She said it's like going on a vacation with family and having to share a hotel room. …

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