Fences comes down at Minnesota Capitol; layoff notes go out

Published 5:34 pm Tuesday, June 1, 2021

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ST. PAUL — The fence that had surrounded the Minnesota Capitol since the unrest over the death of George Floyd began coming down Tuesday, although officials have yet to set a date for reopening the statehouse to the public.

Crews removed the tall chain-link fence from the front of the building and expected to haul away most of the remaining components in the coming days.

The Capitol was closed in March 2020 as the pandemic forced the Legislature to meet remotely. The fence hastily went up as protests over the death of Floyd on May 26, 2020, took a violent turn. It remained up during the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and through former Officer Derek Chauvin’s conviction for murder in Floyd’s death in April. The state spent over $100,000 on the fence.

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As the Capitol took steps toward reopening, officials also prepared for a state government shutdown if lawmakers don’t complete a $52 billion two-year budget before July 1. Some 38,000 state workers have started getting 30-day layoff notices as required by their contracts and compensation plans.

Gov. Tim Walz told them he hopes the warning is only a formality and that the Legislature reaches a deal in time.

House Speaker Melissa Hortman has said she hopes the Capitol will be open in time for a special session expected on the budget in mid-June.