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OPEN HOUSE: Visitors once again can tour House floor [Michigan]
Grand Rapids Press via ^ | Wednesday, February 12, 2003 | Steven Harmon

Posted on 02/13/2003 6:27:10 AM PST by FourPeas

OPEN HOUSE: Visitors once again can tour House floor

Wednesday, February 12, 2003By Steven Harmon
The Grand Rapids Press

Schoolchildren will have their day in the House.

Pressure from state House members forced Speaker Rick Johnson to change a new rule that banned students and other visitors from stepping onto the House floor and its expensive carpet.

Johnson, a LeRoy Republican, announced the change at a meeting of House Republicans on Tuesday. Visitors will be allowed on the floor only if escorted by lawmakers, and will be limited to the center aisle area by the rostrum.

Staff members will no longer be able to substitute for lawmakers as escorts.

"Enough members brought concerns to Rick that he decided he wouldn't prohibit any students from coming onto the floor," said Emily Gerkin, spokeswoman for Johnson. "This doesn't alleviate the concerns we have with the carpet. There are legitimate cost concerns."

Several areas of the carpet are fraying and wearing thin, Gerkin said. The carpet would cost $200,000 to replace, double the cost to install it 13 years ago.

Lawmakers said budgetary concerns led them to vote for the rule at the beginning of the year, but many have reconsidered after the ban was publicized.

The thought of keeping schoolchildren off the carpet to save on wear and tear rubbed wrong, said state Rep. Bill VanRegenmorter, R-Georgetown Township.

"The Capitol belongs to the kids, it belongs to all of us, so there's logic to letting them on the floor," VanRegenmorter said.

State Rep. Jerry Kooiman, R-Grand Rapids, said he understood the rationale for trying to limit access.

"But I also enjoyed taking the kids onto the floor to talk about Michigan government with them," he said.

Several lawmakers said they would consider starting a fund to raise private dollars to pay for a new carpet.

This is the second controversial decision Johnson has reconsidered this week.

Kooiman praised Johnson for compromising in the face of public criticism.

"There are times when one needs to say, 'Let's take a look at it and see if there's an alternative route,'" Kooiman said. "And that's what happened."

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Extended News; Government; News/Current Events; US: Michigan
KEYWORDS: constituents; education; legislation; peopleshouse; students
A victory for common sense.


1 posted on 02/13/2003 6:27:10 AM PST by FourPeas
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To: Pan_Yans Wife; blackdog; Highway55; Michael.SF.; monkeyshine; The Old Hoosier; Mikey; Registered; ..
Ping! It seems there's been a change of mind.
2 posted on 02/13/2003 6:30:17 AM PST by FourPeas
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