So You Want to Go to the Capitol

Emilie McKiernan Blanton

There are many reasons one might visit the Capitol. It’s a lovely building, so you might visit as a tourist. You could visit to meet with your elected legislators or attend a committee meeting. During Session (or the impending Special Session), often visitors arrive to make their voices heard. How exactly do you go about visiting the Capitol? 

If you’re traveling, you’ll want to prepare before you go. It’s a good idea to bring snacks and water, depending on how long you’ll be there. For longer rallies, this can be an all day affair. It’s also easy to lose track of time while you’re there, so having something quick to eat is important. You’ll also want to pack a way to charge your phone, such as a cable with a portable power bank. While there are outlets in the Capitol, they’re not as plentiful as more recent buildings. For larger rallies, you’ll also need to add outdoor protection to your list. Sometimes you get in the building, and sometimes you don’t. Being prepared for the weather in case you are stuck outside due to capacity restrictions is the best idea. All of this can be carried around in a backpack, which you can bring into the Capitol building itself, though it will be searched.

Entering the Capitol can happen in two locations. There is the Capitol building that houses the House, Senate, and Supreme Court. There is a separate building called the Annex. You can enter either building and have access to both using an underground tunnel that connects them. This is especially useful when you are in Frankfort on cold days. The Annex houses the offices of the legislators, which is where they generally meet with their constituents. The Annex also has a place to purchase food, should you find yourself in Frankfort and checked in and without food. 

To enter either building, there is a newer sign in system. If you are 18 or older, you need to have your ID out and ready to be scanned using a new security check in system. As you check in, you select whether you are there on business or for tourism. If you are there for business, you type in the committee or legislator you are seeing. You then scan the back of your ID, take a selfie, and proceed through a metal detector. The new sign in system produces a sticker with your name, picture, and who or what you are there for. The previous sign in system used a sticker with just the date and your ID information was written down by a guard.

If you are in Frankfort during Session and want to watch what happens in either chamber, you will need a ticket to enter either side. You first wait in line for your ticket and then wait in line to enter the chamber of your choice with your ticket. I recommend wearing comfortable shoes when you visit during Session. You never know when you’ll get a chance to sit on especially busy days.

Frankfort is beautiful and visiting during non-Session times is wonderful. Sessions are built in the off season, so visiting and contacting legislators then is integral in facilitating any change you wish to see. 

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