The long-standing existing written policy of the Department of Finance and Administration has been that no “rallies” are allowed within the Capitol Building. Press conferences with 25 or fewer participants may be permitted upon proper application to DFA, but no signs, chants, etc., characteristic of a “rally” are allowed in the building by any organization or group.
Unfortunately, enforcement of this policy has been lax, uneven, and sometimes even non-existent, and for this we take full responsibility. On several occasions last Session, disruptive events sponsored by diverse groups were allowed to occur which hampered the working environment of legislators and staff. Shortly after the current Session began, we met and mutually agreed that the policy should strictly be enforced going forward. Our guidelines were communicated, clearly, we believe, with respect to an event that occurred in the Rotunda last Tuesday. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, these guidelines were not followed.
We jointly reiterate that the existing policy will be strictly enforced immediately. DFA and Capitol Police have been instructed to disallow any activity not in accord with the policy, and to disperse any group not acting in the manner expected and required. As has always been the case, “rallies” are permitted, upon proper application to DFA, on the southern (main) steps of the Capitol, but not inside the building. We have assured DFA and Capitol Police that the Management Committee and the Rules Committee, respectively, will have their backs as they carry out their duties.
We acknowledge that enforcement of this pre-existing policy at this time (mid-Session) opens us up to the allegation that we are somehow playing favorites or appearing unfair. We accept the unfortunate optics of the situation we find ourselves in. Regardless, however, we are not prepared to allow a bad situation to worsen through continued inaction. Accordingly the policy will be strictly enforced going forward for all organizations and groups, with no exceptions and no favoritism to anyone.
The written policy in full is available from DFA.
Representative Greg Snowden
Speaker Pro Tempore
Chairman, House Management Committee
Senator Terry C. Burton
President Pro Tempore
Chairman, Senate Rules Committee