Senate Chamber

Historical Self-Guided Tour Location #1

Text-only: Welcome to Juneau Alaska and the State Capitol.  This is the 1st of 6 stops on the historical self-guided tour. 

You’re now outside or just entering one of the two Senate Chamber galleries.  Please step into either the Groh or Zeigler gallery and take a seat for a few minutes.  Please note that only legislators, floor staff and credentialed members of the press are permitted on the floor of the chamber.  The public is permitted in the galleries and are forbidden from stepping onto the floor. Please refer to the floor-by-floor maps in your printed brochure to see areas of the building that are not accessible to the public as indicated by shaded “off limit” areas. 
First, lets cover a topics like building safety, emergency exits and bathrooms.  
Building Safety – Be respectful of the office environment.  The Alaska Legislature meets for 121 days each year, beginning the second Tuesday in January and ending in mid to late May, but staff are working within the building all year.  Please be respectful and keeping your voices to a reasonable level. Do not run in the hallways, and respect areas marked as non-public spaces. 
Emergency Exits – All emergency exits are marked with signs.  In the event of a fire do not use the elevators.  The main stairwell is in the center of the building near the elevators.  There are also emergency fire escapes at the end of the east and west wing hallways on each floor.   

For restrooms, there is a men’s and women’s restroom on each floor.  Please consult the floor maps in the companion brochure for locations.  Accessible restrooms are available on the 4th floor and ground floor. Restrooms on the 2nd floor have ADA accessible stalls. 
Where to sit, stand and wander – As you encounter each self-guided tour location today, please remain near the QR code sign until you have completed the audio or I have directed you to do something, like telling you to enter this chamber and have a seat.  If there is a bench in a hallway nearby a self-guided tour location, please have a seat if you would like. 
This tour is brought to you today by The Division of Technology & Information, which is part of the Legislative Affairs Agency.  The Legislative Affairs Agency is a non-partisan organization that performs all the administrative functions needed to keep a legislature functioning.  From the accountants to human resources, information technology to building maintenance, these departments make sure the legislative process can continue. 

The network of 22 Legislative Information Offices or LIOs as they will be referred to, are responsible for providing politically neutral and unbiased information on legislation and the legislative process. We also provide constituents the opportunity to testify live before the legislature from our offices through the teleconference network.   

The Legislative Information Offices were established in the late 1970’s.  We were tasked with keeping the public informed real-time of what was happening with legislation, in an era before the internet and affordable long-distance calls.  Alaska is big and its expensive to fly to Juneau.  The LIOs, with the assistance of the media services office, use technology to shrink Alaska digitally.  We facilitate participation in the legislative process by managing public testimony by phone in committee meetings and live broadcast of all legislative proceedings.  I’ll tell you more about the uniqueness of Alaska’s legislature throughout the tour today. 
You’re currently sitting in the Senate Chambers- The Alaska State Senate consists of 20 members and is presided over by the Senate President who is elected by a majority of the members.  Due to the small number people in the body, this is the smallest state legislative chamber in the United States.  Senators are elected to serve a 4-year terms and Alaska has no term limits for members of the Legislature. Each Senator represents roughly 35,000 Alaskans.  Alaskans qualify to serve as a senator when they have been a resident of Alaska for 3 years, a resident of the district for 1 year and will be 25 years old at the time of swearing in. 
This part of the building didn’t always house the Senate. After the building was completed in 1931, the Alaska territorial museum and library occupied this wing of the building.  The entire wing was once a big open room with museum exhibits to one side and the library on the other.  Due to a lack of meeting spaces, legislative committees often met in this space with their chairs spread throughout the glass museum display cases.  It wasn’t until 1967 that the Senate Chamber moved into this room from its original location which happens to be the next self-guided tour stop. 
Next: Take your time looking around.  When you’re ready to move on, please make your way out of the Senate Chamber and proceed down the hall into the other wing of the building. Please proceed down the same hallway to the Speaker’s Chamber marked in the map in your tour brochure.